grocery store
Julie Hambleton
Julie Hambleton
April 17, 2024 ·  3 min read

She was caught robbing from shelves in a store in a major US city, and two police officers were sent to the scene.

Two police officers caught a woman in North Carolina stealing groceries from a local store. When they heard her story, however, they knew they had to help. This is the wonderful story of people who do the right thing, even when what the other person did was technically wrong. (1)

Cops Help Woman Stealing Groceries

According to WRAL News, officers Keith Bradshaw and Candice Spragins received a call about a woman stealing groceries from a local grocery store. The woman was fleeing the store at the time of the call. They quickly discovered her identity and went to her home to question her. When they arrived, however, they soon learned that this woman was desperate.

The woman, named Theresa West, said that she was very sorry for stealing groceries. She then broke down crying. Through her tears, she explained to the officers that she had come across hard times and struggled to afford to feed her children, who had not eaten in three days.

“We called the churches, and everything and everyone was like: ‘We go through Interfaith Council, we go through this and go through that, and nobody would give us anything. We had nothing,” the mom explained.

Source: Global News

Bradshaw had a look inside the family’s refrigerator, and sure enough, it was empty. At that moment, Bradshaw and Spragins knew they had to do something to help.

A Necessary Crime

West returned the $36 worth of groceries that she stole. The two officers then drove her back to the store, where they purchased her $140 worth of groceries so she could feed her children. They posted on the Hillsborough Police Department Facebook page about the incident, explaining the situation and why they chose to help.

“This was not a crime out of greed but one seen as necessary by a mother trying to feed a child,” they wrote. “Sometimes police work is not cut and dry. We are people first and cops second.”

They received global press for their act of kindness. They took the moment to encourage people to pay it forward by donating to their local food banks and other similar organizations.

Read: Life Is Too Short To Waste It On People Who Suck The Happiness Out Of You

Not The Only Ones

In December 2020, WJAR News reported on a store in Somerset, Massachusetts. The establishment had called police officer Matt Lima about two suspected shoplifters. When he arrived on the scene, he met the two women. They had two little girls with them, similar in age to Lima’s own children. Lima pulled one of the women aside to talk to her about what had happened.

“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 recalled.

He thought about his own kids and how gut-wrenching it would be if he wasn’t able to give them a proper Christmas dinner. Rather than charging them, he purchased a $250 gift card so that the mother could buy what she needed so her kids could have a memorable Christmas. The women were overwhelmed and very grateful. On another day, perhaps with another officer, they would have charged the women and an expensive court ordeal would have followed. Instead, he served the women with a no-trespassing notice for that particular location and was able to provide what their family needed. The officers from both of these stories prove that acting with compassion and kindness can go a long way.

Keep Reading: Man plans to retire at a Holiday Inn because it’s cheaper than a nursing home


  1. “‘My kids were hungry:’ Hillsborough officers buy groceries for woman caught stealing food.WRAL News. November 6, 2017.
  2. Police officers found a mom stealing food for her kids, so they bought her groceries.” Global News. Maham Abedi. November 7, 2017.
  3. Somerset police officer pays for groceries of family in need following shoplifting callWJAR News. December 30 2020.