Massachusetts Police Officer Buys Holiday Groceries for Shoplifting Suspects: ‘I Had to Help’

Georgia Slater-Sat, January 2, 2021, 6:30 PM EST

Somerset Police Department

In the true holiday spirit, a Massachusetts police officer put the law aside when he noticed a local family was unable to afford their Christmas dinner.

On Dec. 20, Somerset Police Officer Matt Lima responded to a report of two women shoplifting at a Stop & Shop grocery store. The women, who had two children with them, were being held at the store until police arrived.

Store officials told Lima that the women did not scan all of their items at self-checkout and that numerous items on their receipt were missing, according to a police report.

Upon arrival at the store, Lima took one of the women aside to ask her about the incident while store employees kept the children occupied.

“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,” Lima told local news station WJAR.

After looking at the receipt, Lima said it was clear the women were only trying to buy groceries.

“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?” he said.

Instead of charging the women with shoplifting, Lima served them with Notice Not To Trespass forms and said he would not be pressing charges. “The two children with the women reminded me of my kids, so I had to help them out,” he said.

Lima proceeded to use his own money to purchase a $250 gift card to a local Stop & Shop location so that the women could buy groceries for their Christmas dinner.

“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 told WJAR.

Somerset Police Chief George McNeil also praised Lima for his honorable actions.

“His actions exemplify what it means to protect and serve the members of our community,” McNeil said in a release. “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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