Liquor Store Owner Told to Stop Confiscating Shoplifters' Shoes or Face Felony Charges

Police are telling a Durango liquor store owner to give shoplifters the boot — literally.

Tired of losing what he says was about $1,000 worth of merchandise a month in thefts, Gabe Fidanque started telling shoplifters he caught that they had two choices: Give him one of their shoes or he'd call the police.

A handful gave up a shoe. But Durango police told Fidanque on Friday to stop the practice or risk facing charges of felony robbery.

Shoplifting, in contrast, is a misdemeanor.

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

Fidanque was ordered to return the shoes to their owners — if he can find them.

He reluctantly agreed. But he stands by his gumshoe work, which he started, he said, because people he turned in to police would return hours after being arrested.

"That's the whole point of it. They're too humiliated to come back and ask for their shoe, and that also means they won't steal again," Fidanque said. "But it's not worth jeopardizing my business."