After catching a family shoplifting, a police officer thought he needed to help them instead of arresting them.
Five days before Christmas, Matt Lima caught two women with two children shoplifting at Stop & Shop in Somerset, Massachusetts. According to the Somerset Police Department news release, the women were slipping items at the self-checkout kiosk without scanning them.
The discovery of the shoplifting incident
An employee found out about some missing items from the store after he printed out a transaction receipt. The grocery stores loss prevention associate called Lima and reported the shoplifting incident. The officer pulled one of the women to listen to her story.
According to NBC affiliate WJAR, Lima said that the woman told him she was working while the children's mom is not. She had taken the kids out for Christmas dinner because their family had some issues going on.
Because he also has two young daughters at home, Lima knew he had to help the two women instead of pressing criminal charges. He said that it "kind of struck" him a little because his children were the same age to the girls who were with the women he caught.
Lima learned that the stolen groceries were to restock the shelves at home, so he decided to help the family in need. Using his own money, the police officer bought a $250 gift card so the women could shop at another Stop & Shop store to buy what they need for their pantry.
Lima told the outlet that he could not go to the grocery store to pay for what he could afford because he saw how the family was in need. He said that the family was kind of shocked and were very thankful for his help.
The outcome could be different for other people
He believes that if other people find themselves in the same situation as him, the outcome could have been different. He said that maybe the other person could have arrested the family or let the case proceed to the court.
Lima could not press charges because all the shoplifted items were groceries. The shop banned the women and let them leave the place.
Instead of charging two women with shoplifting when store security said they didn't scan everything they put in their... Posted by CNN on Saturday, January 2, 2021
According to Feeding America, by the end of 2020, over 50 million people, where 17 million are children, have likely experienced food insecurity. The pandemic has caused an increased reliance on food banks, which had led people to wait in line for hours to get relief.
George McNeil, Somerset Police chief, is proud of Lima for making the right decision. He personally commended Lima because he protected and served community members with his actions. Lima made sure that the family enjoys a Christmas dinner instead of pressing charges against them.
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