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Woman Who Stole Fuel Ordered to Wear Sign

SALISBURY, Md. (July 30) - Sherelle Purnell's facial expression went from one of embarrassment to defiance as she puffed a cigarette and lugged a sandwich board sign that declared: "I was caught stealing gas."

The 18-year-old woman on Friday obeyed a court order that required her to stand for three hours in front of Gordy's Tiger Mart on Route 13, the store where surveillance tape recorded Purnell speeding away from a gas pump with $4.52 worth of fuel.

Purnell walked along the convenience shop's grassy storefront, as passing drivers honked car horns and made catcalls. She arrived 90 minutes late to her noon sentence, The (Salisbury) Daily Times reported


By the time she showed up, the crowd of people that gathered to watch her had dispersed. "There were parents who came with their children, wanting to teach them a lesson," said Jan Phipps, Tiger Mart store manager.

But a new crowd soon assembled, including some supporters. Andrew Black, who stopped by the gas station on his lunch break, converted an old beer poster into a makeshift sign, protesting high gas prices.


"What is this, the Middle Ages?" said Black, who criticized Purnell's punishment.

Purnell declined to comment Friday on her unusual punishment.

On April 4, Purnell filled her car with 2.78 gallons of fuel, then went into the store and asked a cashier the cost of a pack of cigars, according to court records.

Purnell decided not to buy the cigars. She walked out of the store and drove away without paying for the gas.

Wicomico County District Court Judge D. William Simpson on July 16 ordered Purnell to carry the sign after Tiger Mart's store manager persuaded prosecutors to seek the unconventional punishment.


07/30/04 21:25 EDT
 

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This is fuel for my community-based corrections class. We have talked about different types of public shaming...like in Texas where they make some drunk drivers place bumper stickers on their cars advertising that they were convicted of drunk driving, etc...I find this to be not only a deterrent, but absolutely hilarious.
 

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She was over an hour late to her punishment. Tomorrow's sign better say, "I should have stolen a watch." 90 minutes late and defiant, yeah that worked - I say bring back the lash!
 

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Sounds like something my mom would have made me done :woot: ...but I like the idea! I guess that is what it takes to get it through some peoples heads. :NO:
 
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