The police officer understood that all the women wanted was a nice Christmas meal for the children.
Holidays are all about enjoying time with your close ones and spreading the Christmas spirit. A police officer in Somerset, Massachusetts, made sure that he stayed true to the holiday spirit as he helped a family in the best way possible.
On December 20, 2020, Office Matt Lima was informed about a theft in progress following which he arrived at Stop & Shop, located on 815 Grand Army Highway, and found two women being held on suspicion of shoplifting.
According to the report released by Somerset Police Department, the Asset Protection associate of the store disclosed to the police that he saw two women fill their shopping bags with a lot of items but they didn't scan it all during the billing at the self-checkout kiosks. When officer Lima checked the receipt, he noticed that the number of items in the women's shopping bags didn't add up to the amount on the bill.
While talking to WJAR, the officer said, "The allegation was the two females were scanning some items at self-checkout but bypassing other items and bagging those items. Dispatch indicated it was two females and two young small children and they were detained by Loss and Prevention over there."
However, there was one thing that was hard for officer Lima to ignore. It was the kids who had accompanied the women. As per WCVB, "It was a little bit different from the get-go because not too many people engage in that type of behavior with their young children there." Officer Lima, a father himself told WJAR, "I have two girls myself, similar on age to the two girls that were there, so it kind of struck me a little bit."
When the officer checked out the items, they turned out to be just groceries which gave him the idea about the whole ordeal. When he pulled them aside, he understood that the women were just trying to provide the children with a Christmas meal.
"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," said officer Lima.
"There was nothing else on there like health and beauty items, shampoo, anything like that. It was all food," he said. "I asked an employee where the other items were that they had planned to take and was informed they were put back on the shelves." Even though the shop issued the women a "no trespass" order, the good officer decided not to press charges. In fact, he bought the family a $250 gift card so that the family could provide a Christmas dinner to the family.
"Obviously, this family was in need and I can't imagine having to make the decision to go to Stop and 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? They were very thankful, they were kind of shocked." He added, "I bought the gift card close in value to what would've been taken. I just did what I felt was right. It's not about me, I just tried to put myself in that family's shoes and show a little bit of empathy."
There's no doubt that officer Lima's police department was proud of his actions because Chief George McNeil said, "This incident is a true testament of Officer Lima’s great character and decision making. His actions exemplify what it means to protect and serve the members of our community."
He added, "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."