One morning last March, Marge Ardly, 35, a pale, thin housewife with the worn-out look of a new mother, started to leave Fred’s department store in the small town of Camden, AR, with a 99-cent tube of lipsticks wrapped in her infant son’s white wool hat. The lipstick activated the store’s alarm system. “You would never have thought she would shoplift,” says a store manager. “She was very presentable. When I asked her to give me her purse to walk through the detector, she gave me everything, she had — even the baby. But she kept holding on to that hat. Finally I asked for that too.”
Ardly appeared before Municipal Judge Edwin Keaton. For that 99-cent tube of lipstick, she had to pay a $250 fine and $50 in court costs and was place on probation for 12 months. But there was an unusual aspect of Keaton’s ruling: He ordered Ardly to go back to Fred’s and spend five consecutive hours walking in front of the store wearing a large yellow sign with bold black letters that read, I got caught shoplifting at Fred’s. The day of her walk, Ardly was clearly angry and embarrassed. “I’m not talking to you,” she told a reporter.
Judge Keaton is well-known in Camden for giving first-time shoplifters this unorthodox punishment. Those who fail to comply are given another chance; but two-time no-shows