A few days before Christmas, Massachusetts police officer Matt Lima was called to a local grocery store to respond to a shoplifting incident. When he arrived, he found two women with two small children waiting for him.
The women had been caught scanning some items at a self-serve register while also placing undetected items in their bags. Lima immediately said the situation seemed off, especially given the young kids with them. So instead of rushing to take legal action, he listened carefully to everyone involved — and ended up saving the day in a totally unexpected way!
Lima has two daughters of his own who are about the same age as the children there, so his heart was already invested in the situation.
“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 explained.
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As he looked over their receipt, he realized they hadn’t tried to take anything other than the food they needed for their holiday celebration. That’s when he decided they didn’t need punishment; they needed empathy! The women were allowed to take home the items they had paid for. Meanwhile, Lima purchased a $250 gift card for them to get the remaining items they needed.
“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. “I just did what I felt was right. It’s not about me, I just tried to put myself in that family’s shoes.”
The gesture was not lost on the women, who knew the outcome could have been much different if they hadn’t met someone as kindhearted as Lima.
“His actions exemplify what it means to protect and serve the members of our community,” said George McNeil, Lima’s police chief. “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.”
What a wonderful way to show this family kindness in their time of need! We’re so glad Lima followed his heart that day!
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