03/27/2014 06:47 pm ET Updated Dec 06, 2017

Ruby Red Slippers Theft Leads To 3 Arrests

If they only had a brain.

Three people have been arrested for stealing a pair of ruby red slippers like the ones worn by Dorothy in "The Wizard Of Oz."

The $2,500 replica slippers were stolen from the lobby of the Hilton Garden Inn in Staten Island, N.Y. at the beginning of the month and returned March 14, reports.

Hotel owner Richard Nicotra said the slippers were displayed in the lobby. "We know there's no place like home, but at the Hilton Garden Inn we'll do our best," was written on a nearby sign.

"We thought it was a novel idea," Nicotra told "We've had them there for years and years."

Julie Walker-Merkle, 39, and Joseph Cipoletti, 58, allegeldy lifted the display case the slippers were in while Ronald Geraghty, 57, kept lookout, according to the New York Daily News.

The defense attorney for Cipoletti and Walker-Merkle, a former congressional aide, said the shoe-napping was meant to be a prank.

“They thought it would be very funny if they took the slippers,” Mario Gallucci told the New York Post. “They thought it would be fun to dance in the ruby slippers.”

The accused thieves tried to take an elevator to the hotel's rooftop bar, but were denied access without a room key. They got off on the sixth floor where a surveillance camera caught Walker-Merkle ruby-redhanded wearing the slippers, hotel owner Richard Nicotra told the paper.

The suspects slipped out of the hotel with the shoes.

A man later identified as Walter-Merkle's father brought the footwear back.

A bow on one of the slippers was broken off, according to

Walker-Merkle and Cipoletti turned themselves in on March 21 and were charged with grand larceny, criminal possession of stolen property and criminal mischief.

Geraghty was arrested on Monday and charged with grand larceny. They were all released without bail until their next scheduled court date on May 16.

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