A kind-hearted police officer in Massachusetts is receiving praise after buying a Christmas dinner for two women caught shoplifting groceries with their young children.
Somerset Police Officer Matthew Lima received a call from a local Stop & Shop grocery store five days before Christmas, according to WCVB-TV. Employees at the chain claimed the two women were stealing food.
Stop & Shop clerks told the cop they watched the women scan only a few items at the self-checkout while putting the rest of the items in their bags without paying for them.
“It was a little different from the get-go,” said Lima, “because not too many people engage in that type of behavior with their young children there.”
The officer told the news outlet he noticed the stolen goods were “all consumable food items.” Believing the women were shoplifting out of necessity, Lima asked the women why they were stealing food.
“She stated that, obviously, it goes without saying, that times are tough for a lot of people, that she was working but not enough and didn’t make enough money and that there were some other family issues going on and that she just wanted to provide a Christmas dinner for the kids,” Lima recalled.
The Somerset officer, feeling compassionate, noticed the two children with the women are around the same age as his own kids. Lima issued the women trespassing notices but didn’t file formal charges against them.
After escorting them out of the grocery store, Lima went back into the chain and purchased gift cards for the women so they could go to another Stop & Shop location to buy a Christmas dinner for their daughters.
Lima told WCVB-TV he wanted to share his experience not to garner praise, but to bring awareness to the many law enforcement officers and private citizens who extend similar kindnesses every day to people in need, particularly amid a pandemic and the accompanying restrictions that have destroyed livelihoods for Americans across the country.
“We have the ability to adapt to many things,” the officer said. “But also, we just need to be there for each other and be there for our neighbors.”