They came from all around the South Korean capital as victims of an unusual crime. Each had lost an expensive and cherished pair of shoes while attending a funeral.

They were the mourners who had slipped off their shoes out of respect, according to the national tradition, but hadn't noticed the man scanning their footwear.

That man, known only as Park, would then take off his own footwear, put on a more expensive pair and walk off.

Now police in Seoul have meticulously laid out some 1,200 pairs of shoes and appealed for their owners to come and reclaim them.

Park was amassing ranks of buffed and polished slip-ons for his second hand shoe business.

But the 59-year-old has now been arrested for stealing more than 1,000 pairs of shoes, police said.

It is a Korean custom to remove outdoor footwear before entering a building, a ritual especially practiced in funeral homes.

Park would disguise himself as a mourner and make his way around the city's funeral homes swiping shoes as he went.

He was only stopped when police caught him stealing three pairs of shoes, with a total retail value of $1,750 at one funeral parlor.

When they raided his warehouse police discovered over a vast quantity of shoes in neat rows organized according to size and ready for resale.

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