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Page last updated at 01:16 GMT, Wednesday, 28 May 2008 02:16 UK

Police stamp out anti-theft trick

A boot

A US shop owner with an innovative way of giving shoplifting the boot has been told it could land him in jail.

Gabe Fidanque, an off-licence owner in Colorado, said he was losing $1,000 a month and police were doing little to prevent shoplifters targeting his shop.

He had taken to telling shoplifters he would call the police if they did not hand over one of their shoes.

But police told him his punishment counted as a felony robbery, whereas shoplifting is merely a misdemeanour.

Mr Fidanque, the owner of Wagon Wheel Liquors in the town of Durango, said shoplifters whom he had turned in to the police had often returned to his shop within hours of their arrest.

Too humiliated

"I give them the choice. I say, 'I'm either going to call the cops or you give me one of your shoes'," Mr Fidanque told The Durango Herald.

It was a good try, but I'll have to figure something else out
Gabe Fidanque

"They're too humiliated to come back and ask for their shoe, and that also means they won't steal again."

But Durango police Captain Micki Browning wasn't impressed by the crime-busting method.

"I would suggest that he find a different option that doesn't involve giving up property," she said. "What's the difference between him saying, 'Give me $20 and I won't call the police' or 'Give me your shoe?'"

Mr Fidanque has reluctantly agreed to abide by the police warning, and has also agreed to return shoes he has confiscated to their owners, if he can find them.

"It was a good try, but I'll have to figure something else out," he said.

"It's not worth jeopardising my business."


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