Cops Arrive to Arrest Woman Shoplifting in Grocery Store, End up Paying for Her Food Instead — Story of the Day
Three cops, including Officer Charlene Manson, were called to arrest a woman at a grocery store. They discovered the sad amount of food she stole and decided to help her instead. But Charlene found out something even more surprising later.
"Officers, the woman is here," the manager of the local grocery in Glendale, California, pointed towards a woman they had taken to a corner of the store, away from everyone else. Three cops were called to the scene, and Officer Charlene Manson thought there might be some danger.
To their complete shock, the manager led them directly to a frail woman sitting on a chair with her eyes downcast. She was clutching several food items in her hands.
"She refuses to give up the food she was trying to steal, but at least she sat there without a fight," the manager explained.
The conditions were so terrible that Charlene almost cried. But she maintained her composure.
Charlene frowned at her colleagues, Anthony Gomez and Fernando Suarez. "Alright, sir. But how much was she stealing?" she asked the manager – a man named Mr. Sterling, according to his name tag.
"Hmmm. I don't know for sure, but based on the items in her hands, it has to be around $10," Mr. Sterling guessed and looked at the officers. Clearly, he was expecting them to arrest the woman. And, of course, that would've been the correct procedure.
But there was something about this situation that didn't sit well with Charlene. Arresting a woman for a measly $10? She looked haggard and too thin, so she approached her.
"Hello, ma'am. Can you look at me?" she requested, leaning slightly to see from a closer angle. The woman raised her eyes to hers, and their pleading look broke Charlene's heart. "Why were you stealing these things?"
She shook her head and uttered desperately, "I'm hungry."
The words resonated with the two other cops, and finally, Charlene stood up. "Is it alright if I just pay for what she's carrying?" she asked the manager.
"But, but," Mr. Sterling spluttered. "Aren't you going to arrest her?"
"Honestly, you guys calling us is already wasting more money than $10, and I'm not justifying her actions. But times are hard. More and more people are going hungry in our own country. Something we never imagined, so if you'll allow it, I'm going to pay," Charlene continued, using her authoritative voice.
Finally, the manager agreed, although he was angry about this situation. He didn't seem like the most compassionate person in the world. But Charlene shrugged him off. She leaned toward the woman again and asked, "Ma'am, I'm going to pay for those. Can you give them to me?"
The frail lady looked up in surprise and asked, "Really?" to which Charlene nodded with a tiny smile. She passed the items into her hands, and Charlene went to the cashier.
As the manager stated, the total was just about $10.07, and the items consisted of bread, milk, two cans of tuna, two cans of baked beans, and a pack of shredded cheese. It seemed criminal to Charlene that someone couldn't afford these simple items.
The three cops exited the store, and Charlene asked the lady her name. "Miriam, and thank you so much," she answered in a small voice.
"Ok, Miriam. Why don't you let me drive you to your house?" she suggested and guided the woman towards the police car. She had taken one squad car, and her colleagues were in another, so she told the men to return to their duties and she would drive the frail lady home.
Miriam gave her an address, which was only a few miles, and revealed that she lived with her old mom in a rented attic. It was an old house that had been converted into several "apartments," and the loft was all these two women could afford.
"What about social security? Other government assistance?" Charlene wondered when they arrived, and she got out of the car with the lady. Miriam led her into the separate entrance to the attic, and the conditions were so terrible that Charlene almost cried. But she maintained her composure.
They saw that Miriam's mother was sleeping and tried to keep their voice down for her sake.
"My mother's social security pays our rent, but I lost my job months ago, and no one is hiring. But in any case, I've had to care for her. I haven't had time to apply for unemployment assistance or anything," Miriam revealed, her eyes looking down in shame.
"Miriam, don't be embarrassed about your situation. Tons of people are going through hard times. But I have to remind you that stealing is not the right way to go about it. There are soup kitchens and other charities that could help you get food. Don't you know about those?" Charlene chided gently.
The frail woman shook her head. "I had no idea. I don't have a phone or internet to search for those things. I had no idea where to ask or who… it's been a little hard on us. My mother can barely walk anymore and living in that attic has depressed her so much. I've had other things on my mind."
"I understand," Charlene nodded. "But I'm here, and I'm going to help you now."
"Thank you. Thank you so much."
In the end, Charlene called several friends – one of them handled a food pantry in town and agreed to deliver groceries to Miriam and her mother, Mrs. Fitzpatrick. She also helped the woman apply for more government assistance and started a GoFundMe page to raise money.
Thanks to the support of her friends, colleagues, and even people from all over the world, Charlene raised enough funds to rent a tiny but better apartment for Miriam and her mother.
Once they moved the two women, she told Miriam, "Now, it's time to find a new job, and I have an idea if you're willing to learn."
Of course, Miriam agreed, and Charlene got her a job as a part-time police clerk at her station. It wasn't the best-paid position, but it was something. The job would help her learn skills to apply to other places later.
Even after the women settled, Charlene checked on them often. Soon enough, they didn't need the food pantry anymore, as Miriam could afford to support them, and their situation improved.
But Miriam welcomed the cop's friendship and said she thought she and Mrs. Fitzpatrick were alone in the world until Charlene showed up. And the police officer knew that her calling went beyond stopping crime. It was about helping anyone who needed it.
What can we learn from this story?
- Help each other out, especially when times are hard. Although Miriam committed a crime, Charlene felt sympathy and offered assistance.
- You are never truly alone in the world. It's a matter of finding people who care. Miriam thought she and her mother were alone and helpless until Charlene showed her that it wasn't true.
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If you enjoyed this story, you might like this one about a boy who paid for a woman's groceries and asked her to make a wish.
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