Gabe Fidanque, owner of Wagon Wheel Liquors in Durango, Colorado, was tired of losing as much as $1000 a month to shoplifters, so he instituted his own punishment: he told those caught shoplifting to give him one of their shoes or he'll call the cops!
But that turns in itself turns out to be robbery - so the police told him to stop or risk running afoul of the law:
"I give them the choice - I say 'I'm either going to call the cops or you give me one of your shoes,'" Fidanque said Thursday, a day before he decided to abandon his plan on advice from the Durango Police Department.
He said he started looking at alternatives about two years ago because he was frustrated that people he caught shoplifting and reported to the police frequently returned to the store within hours of their arrest.
But Durango Police Department Capt. Micki Browning said Fidanque's punishment puts him in serious jeopardy by substituting a felony offense for a misdemeanor.
"I would suggest that he find a different option that doesn't involve giving up property," Browning said. She said that because Fidanque requires the offender to surrender property through intimidation, the shoe penalty is tantamount to felony robbery under state law. Shoplifting is a misdemeanor.
"What's the difference between him saying, 'give me $20 and I won't call the police' or 'give me your shoe?'" Browning asked.