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Is it Legal: Taking Home Extra Restaurant Condiments

Most of us have been there before. You go out to eat. You finish your meal. And just before you leave you spot the condiments counter.
Is it legal?  It's a question we may ask ourselves - sometimes when it's too late.
We want to make you aware of those obscure laws.
You know - the one's we tend to break but just don't know it.

KOLR10's Justin Dougherty investigates:

Most of us have been there before.
You go out to eat. You finish your meal. And just before you leave you spot the condiments counter.

You think 'I could use a few more straws.'
Or  'It's always nice to have some spare ketchup packets.'

But are you complimenting those extra condiments with a crime?

It's a common occurrence... but is is legal?  We asked Teresa Grantham, an attorney with the Springfield law firm of Carver, Cantin, and Grantham.

"If they're placing condiments out for their customers, I think they are consenting to you taking them. The question then becomes how many is too many," Grantham says.  "If you're taking condiments from a fast food restaurant where they just have to allow customers to be really difficult to make a determination of how many is too many if they don't put something on the number you take I think that would be almost impossible to prosecute"

So now you know it depends on consent from the restaurant.
If you steal more than $500 worth of condiments, then it could mean major legal trouble.
That's when a theft crime increases from a misdenminor to a felony.

But we wanted to know what you thought.
Yesterday we asked on Facebook do you think it is legal?

Out of 140 responses... here are a few:

Kim Swartz - It's not illegal but it's very rude.
Lori Chick - I grab the extra napkins  because i know they will just throw them away and i keep them in the car,alot of times when you go threw drive through you ask for extra,thats one!
Sara Dawn Morris - When I go out to eat, I grab a handful of napkins, my son is a messy eater. If there are some left after the meal, I take them. If I didn't, they would go in the trash anyways... As far as loading up, it isn't right.
Shannon AndTrish Hill - Is theft a crime? Yes. Taking anything that is not given is theft, right? Yes. The "honor system" applies here. The restaurant makes items available to customers; therefore it is not "illegal", per say. However, it goes against all morale to take more than you need.
Blake Bowers - Of course it is not right. What is scary is that the question even comes up - if you think it is right then why did your Momma not raise you better.

So...the chance for charges to be filed are unlikely. But the momma comment does bring this legal tip from Teresa Grantham a legal tip in case you find yourself in that moral dilemma.

"That topic and is it legal or illegal versus is it nice?  You think about how your friends or your mom and dad or your teachers would feel about it and really look at how your grandparents would feel about it.  And so the question is you know that your grandparents think it's very nice to take the whole box of condiments"

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