A Florida man was charged with a felony last week after he allegedly failed to pay for a soda at a McDonald's restaurant on Apr. 19.
According to Naples News, the man asked for a courtesy cup so he could get some water from the soda machine. The employee told him the cup was for water.
Instead of water, however, he allegedly filled the cup with soda and walked outside of the McDonald's to sit down. When asked to pay for the soda, reportedly the man refused and also refused to leave the restaurant, cursing at the manager.
Police were called and the man was arrested and charged with a felony. The reason he was charged with $1 felony was not because of the crime itself, but due to his criminal history. Theft of a $1 soda is theoretically a petty theft charge, but due to the man's earlier convictions for theft, it was increased to a felony, reported Naples News.
According to records of the Collier County Sheriff's Dept., the man, Mark Abaire, has a long list of theft-related charges.
Abaire, 52, was charged with petty theft, trespassing and disorderly intoxication . He was brought to the Collier County Jail and held on a $6,500 bond. If convicted of theft for stealing the $1 soda, he could face a $5,000 fine and up to five years in prison. The other charges are misdemeanors, reported ABC News.
The Los Angeles Times reported on the public reaction to the "$1 felony arrest." The publication noted several commenters are not pleased with this chain of events, citing the expense caused to the taxpayer. WebProNews noted the Twitter reaction, which by searching the network showed some interesting comments.
The International Business Times provided a statement from the McDonald's owner:
I take these matters seriously. As a local business owner, I have a responsibility to take appropriate steps to protect my business and keep my customers and employees safe," owner Mike Adams said. "We are fully cooperating with the authorities on this matter. I have an obligation to the public to adhere closely to local and state laws and rely on the counsel of local law enforcement regarding these types of issues. Beyond that, it would be inappropriate to further comment. Further inquiries should be directed to the [Collier County] Sheriff's office.