Somerset Police Officer Matt Lima saw that the family was in need. He left them without pressing any charges and bought them a $250 gift card to buy groceries.
Compassion is a rare virtue in today's busy world. However, one Massachusetts police officer proved otherwise after he chose to set aside protocol as a cop and put humanity first. According to CNN, Somerset Police Officer Matt Lima was called to a Stop & Shop grocery store after the security stopped two women who did not scan everything they bought at the self-checkout counter. When the police officer arrived at the store, he noticed that the women were accompanied by two young children.
CHRISTMAS MIRACLE - A Massachusetts police officer used his own money to buy Christmas dinner for a family in need instead of charging two women with shoplifting.— WSVN 7 News (@wsvn) January 2, 2021
"The allegation was the two females were scanning some items at self-checkout but bypassing other items and bagging those items," explained Officer Lima. He added, "Dispatch indicated it was two females and two young small children and they were detained by Loss and Prevention over there," according to WJAR.
A good cop story for a change...— Wilson Chu (@MyWchu) January 2, 2021
A police officer paid for a family's Christmas groceries instead of charging two women with shopliftinghttps://t.co/2X5t33rfoc
Being a father himself, he recognized that something was off and took one of the women away to inquire about the incident in private. "I have two girls myself, similar on age to the two girls that were there, so it kind of struck me a little bit," said the officer. On asking about the incident, the woman revealed that the items they purchased were meant for Christmas dinner for the children as they had fallen on hard times.
He continued, "The woman I talked to, she explained she was working, but the mother of the children was not working and had some other family issues going on and that what she had taken was Christmas dinner for the kids." The officer also confirmed her statements by checking their receipts. He also asked one of the employees in the store where the shoplifted items were and were told that they had been put back on the shelves.
After understanding they were in actual need, the kind police officer decided not to press charges as all the missing items were groceries. Instead, he served both the women with notice forms against trespassing. "Obviously, this family was in need and I can't imagine having to make the decision to go to Stop & Shop and just only pay for what I can afford—or do I go there and try to take things for Christmas dinner for the kids?" said Lima.
The officer's response shocked the women. Feeling embarrassed and distressed by the situation they were in, they did not expect the officer to respond so kindly to the mistake they had committed. "They were very thankful, they were kind of shocked. I'm sure a lot of people in that same situation would be thinking that there was going to be a different outcome, and maybe they would be arrested or have to go to court," he said.
In addition to freeing them without charges, the officer also bought a $250 gift card to help them with the groceries they needed at another Stop & Shop location. Officer Lima's kind-hearted gesture did not go unnoticed. His act was appreciated by other officials. "This incident is a true testament of Officer Lima’s great character and decision making," said Chief McNeil, according to a statement released by the department. "His actions exemplify what it means to protect and serve the members of our community. When faced with a difficult situation in which a family was trying to provide a meal for their kids, he made the generous decision to not press charges and instead ensured that they would have a Christmas dinner they could enjoy," McNeil added.