Massachusetts Police Officer Buys Food for Shoplifting Suspects Instead of Booking Them

The holidays can be a difficult time, but a police officer’s good deed lightened the load for a family in need.

According to a statement issued by the Somerset Police Department, Officer Matt Lima was called to a Stop & Shop store in Massachusetts on Dec. 20 after a report of a shoplifting in progress. When he arrived, he was informed by store security that two women did not scan all the items they placed in their bags at the self-checkout kiosk.

After printing the transaction receipt and noticing several items were missing, an asset control associate at the store asked the women to return inside with their items until police arrived. Once on scene, Officer Lima spoke with the associate, then to the women in question.

As he found out, the women had fallen on hard times and were unable to provide Christmas dinner for the two young children who were with them at the time of the incident. Lima, who’s a parent himself, told CNN affiliate WJAR the story caused him to change his tune.

“I have two girls myself, similar [in] age to the two girls that were there, so it kind of struck me a little bit,” he said. “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 took the women aside while store associates kept the children entertained. Upon reviewing the receipt, he found the women had only planned to buy food.

“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?” Lima told WJAR.

Rather than charge the women, he served them with a notice not to trespass, the police department said.

“They were very thankful, they were kind of shocked,” said Lima. “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.”

Furthering his kindness, the officer then purchased a $250 gift card for the women to buy groceries at a different Stop & Shop location. According to Somerset Police Chief George McNeil, the incident is a testament to Officer Lima’s character.

“I would like to personally commend Officer Lima for his actions,” Chief McNeil said. “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.”

Do you think the officer made the right decision? Let us know in the comments!