Many readers on the Naples News website have expressed their disapproval… (Associated Press )
He's no Hamburglar. But a Florida man faces up to five years in prison after he was arrested on a felony charge of stealing a cup of soda from aMcDonald's.
The Collier County Sheriff's Department arrested Mark Abaire, 52, last week on a felony theft charge. Authorities say he went into the fast-food restaurant on 14th Street North in Naples, asked for a cup for water and was then seen filling the cup with soda before taking a seat outside the restaurant and sipping the beverage.
The manager confronted Abaire and asked him to pay for the $1 soda. Abaire apparently refused. He then reportedly cursed at the manager and refused to leave when asked to do so, according to the Naples News, which reviewed the arrest report.
So how does such a seemingly minor incident potentially lead to five years in the slammer (and a crime du jour headline pinging around the Internet on Tuesday)?
Abaire, who is unemployed, has a history of minor petty theft convictions. That history led law enforcement officers to ratchet the case up from a misdemeanor to a felony.
And in tough-on-crime Florida, this category of felonies carries a prison sentence of up to five years along with a $5,000 fine. The suspect faces additional charges of trespassing and disorderly intoxication.
What's perhaps most interesting about this incident is the public reaction to the arrest. As we mentioned, Florida is known for its no-nonsense attitude toward lawbreakers.
Yet many commenters at the Naples News seemed none too happy about taxpayer money being used to keep Abaire behind bars, where he remains because he has not yet been able to make his $6,500 bail and is likely to remain if convicted of all the charges against him.
"So the taxpayer gets to pay for his lawyer, the trial, and his room and board all for the cost of a $1.00 soda which actually costs under a dime," said one poster.
"Wow! and with the mark-up on their sodas they couldn't just let it go? Waste. Of. Time and Money," said another.
Yet another commenter added: "Someone actually bothered the police with this?"
Of course, despite the overall tenor of the comments, one fed-up-with-crime poster had this to say: "Let him meet ole Sparky."
"Sparky" is a reference to the state's electric chair.
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