Is It Illegal to Shop and Eat Before Paying in Washington State?
Oh, we've all been there. We hop inside the store to find something because we're either super hungry or super thirsty. So much so that you do what you've seen other people do in the past and that's immediately open the water or drink and start drinking it in the store before you even pay for it. Sure, others have done it in the past, but is it okay? I mean, it's not like you've ever seen anyone get arrested for snacking on chips while shopping assuming they didn't buy them in advance but will pay for them on the way out. That can't be legal, can it?
Well, to an extent.
According to FindLaw.com, you should be in the clear.
There are different rules based on stores, however. You can't just eat an apple and buy the core based on weight. That'd basically be shoplifting as there's no proper way to weigh how much it was.
Another item would be anything in bulk. As tempting as it is to just grab a few almonds or whatever you're grabbing from the bulk containers, yes, even though it's just one or two, it's still stealing and best not to do it.
But for casual items like bags of chips, bottles of water, or things like that, you should be fine. Probably not recommended as I never want any added attention to myself but if you're snacking with intent of buying and not just grabbing, say, a donut and go to the check stand and say, "What donut?" not so much.
I wouldn't risk it, though. When in doubt, pay for it first and keep the receipt handy.
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