Massachusetts Police Officer Paid For Shoplifters’ Christmas Dinner Instead Of Arresting Them

A Massachusetts police officer was called out to arrest a family suspected of shoplifting.

Instead of arresting them, he paid for their Christmas dinner.

  • Two women were seen putting groceries in their bags without scanning them at self-checkout.
  • When the police officer arrived, he spoke to the women who explained that the family could not afford a Christmas dinner. 
  • Instead of arresting the two women, Officer Matt Lima paid for the family’s Christmas dinner. 
  • Officer Lima: “I just tried to put myself in that family’s shoes and show a little bit of empathy.”
Officer Matt Lima (Somerset Police Department)

Somerset Police Officer Matt Lima was called out to a Stop & Shop grocery store on December 20.

Officer Lima was responding to reports of suspected shoplifting after two women were spotted putting groceries in their bags without scanning them at self-checkout. When Officer Lima arrived, he saw that two children accompanied the two women who were suspected of shoplifting. The officer took one of the women aside and spoke to her while the store’s employees distracted the two children. Speaking to WJAR, Officer Lima explained, “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.” Checking the receipt to see what items the family did pay for, the officer saw that they only bought food. “There was nothing else on there like health and beauty items, shampoo, anything like that. It was all food,” he said.

Seeing this, the officer decided to pay for the family’s Christmas dinner.

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. 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.

Officer Lima purchased a $250 gift card for the family.

“I bought the gift card close in value to what would’ve been taken,” Officer Lima revealed to WJAR. “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.” Furthermore, CNN reported that the officer served the family with a “no trespass” order but did not press charges.

In a statement, Chief George McNeil commented on Officer Lima’s actions.

I would like to personally commend Officer Lima for his actions. 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.

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