Thief Pays Debt Thru Public Humiliation

February 4, 2008 | By Matt Van Hoven | Category: Strange But True | 1195 comments
Tags: strange but true

BATAVIA, N.Y. - Charlie Smith made a mistake. To atone for stealing from Pet Mart, store management came up with a unique solution.

Charlie recently stole a box of anti-flea medication valued at $18. He took the medicine from Pet Mart in upstate New York, and video cameras caught him in the act.

Store owner Ken Misler says when saw the theft on camera, he knew he recognized Smith. Unable to put a name to the face, he asked around; sure enough someone identified the man as Smith.

Misler was given the opportunity to press charges against, but rather than have Smith thrown in jail, the store owner opted for a different solution.

Public humiliation.

Charlie was given the option of spending a week in jail or marching back and forth in front of the Pet Mart while wearing a sign that lets passersby know just what he'd done. It read, “I stole at Pet Mart and was caught.”

For eight hours spread over four days, Charlie walked in front of the store. When asked if he'd rather be marching with his “Scarlet Letter” publicly displayed, he responded enthusiastically, “Yeah!”

Having fulfilled his end of the deal, Charlie's debt to society was paid and Misler dropped the charges. He says Smith is welcome to shop there in the future, and the slate has been wiped clean.

Passersby say they think the punishment is fitting and better than jail time, because the lesson might actually stick.

What do you think about Charlie's special punishment?

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Comments (709)

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5 years ago

A very creative solution.

Good Point | Reply ›

Barbara R.

Barbara R.
6 years ago

Although I sometimes think this is a fantastic idea and there's nothing I enjoy more than when Judge Judy puts someone in their place on national television, I wonder why this guy stole this $18 item. Perhaps he really doesn't have the money...perhaps he is out of work...perhaps he's loosing his home...yet he wants to keep his pet safe. In times like these, we have to look at the cause and try to cut people slack...maybe I'm wrong.

Good Point | Reply ›

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