Fare Evasion

Okay, so this debate has been isnpired by Lost London Law Student who is having a few problems over forgetting to pay a bus fare.  My question is:

Should fare evasion be a criminal matter and why should it be (or not be)?

I am slightly confused as to why it would be a criminal offence.  Okay, you could make an argument for theft (and if that is the case, why does it need a seperate offence?).  However, the way I see it we are essentially dealing with a contractual dispute – which is a civil matter.

I’ll provide a more in-depth post later on this as I’m now running late for work (Ooops!).  In the meantime feel free to leave comments with your own opinions.