A kind-hearted Massachusetts police officer is earning recognition for his Christmas spirit after responding to a call about shoplifting at a Somerset supermarket.
It was five days before Christmas when Somerset Police Officer Matthew Lima responded to a call for his help.
A local Stop & Shop grocery store reached out to police after they claimed two women had been caught shoplifting.
Lima told WCVB-TV that shoplifting is one of the most common complaints police officers receive from retail stores.
"It can be people shoplifting any number of items, any value from $10 up to thousands of dollars," Lima said. "You really don't know what to expect until you get there."
According to WCVB-TV, loss and prevention at the Stop & Shop accused two women who were shopping with two children of only scanning a few of their items at the self-checkout but bagging all of their groceries anyway.
Officer Lima was dispatched to the supermarket after police received a complaint.
"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," Lima said.
He observed something else as well.
"I noticed it was all grocery items, so it was all consumable food items," Lima said.
Suspecting that these women were stealing groceries out of necessity, he asked one of the women why they were shoplifting.
"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 recounted.
The two children with the women were the same age as Lima's own children, and he felt compassion for them. He issued them a trespassing notice but decided against filing charges.
After escorting them from the store, he turned around and went back in.
"I just made the decision that I was going to purchase the gift cards and they could go to a different Stop & Shop and buy their Christmas dinner for their girls," Lima said.
The coronavirus pandemic has been hard on every American. People all across the nation from every background have faced economic hardship or loss this year.
"We have the ability to adapt to many things," Lima said. "But also, we just need to be there for each other and be there for our neighbors."
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