Nicole Leszczynski, a pregnant mom from Honolulu, was arrested with her husband, Marcin Leszczynski, after she ate a sandwich in a Safeway and forgot to pay for it. They had their 2-year-old daughter with them, who was taken away by Child Welfare Services at the time of incidence. The incidence has sparked a nationwide controversy – is snacking and shopping a crime?


“I didn’t know it was such a taboo thing,” said Nicole Leszczynski who was charged with fourth-degree theft, a petty misdemeanor, along with her husband, Marcin. The charges have since been dropped by Safeway. “Where I grew up in a small town it’s not seen as stealing for sure.”

Others are not so sure.

The story generated a robust debate on Facebook and Yahoo in comments following stories on the theft. Some argued that it’s wrong to eat what you haven’t paid for, and that police did the proper thing in arresting them. Others said eating while shopping has become a perfectly acceptable practice. Many denounced the arrest as a heavy-handed response.

At the Safeway where the Leszczynskis were arrested, Linda Mercado and her friend Christine Lutley didn’t get too far from the exit Wednesday before they began digging into their food purchases. Mercado polished off a package of sushi as she discussed her views on the issue.

“Pay before you eat,” the 66-year-old Mercado said. “It’s bad manners.”



The couple posted $50 bail each and were reunited with their daughter after an 18-hour separation. Safeway called Leszczynski on Tuesday and apologized for what she went through. The company also informed police the same day that it wouldn’t press charges.

Personally, I have been guilty of opening up the bottle of water or bag of chips to quench my thirst or hunger before I actually pay for the items, and till now, I have never had anyone complaining about it – even in Hawaii.

What about restaurants? We do eat before we pay?

What do you all say?