(CNN) — A Massachusetts police officer used his own money to buy Christmas dinner for a family in need instead of charging two women with shoplifting.
Somerset Police Officer Matt Lima was called to a Stop & Shop grocery store on December 20 after store security said the women didn’t scan everything that they put in their bags at a self-checkout register, according to a statement on the police department’s website.
The women, who had two small children with them, were stopped as they left the store, police said.
“I have two girls myself, similar on age to the two girls that were there, so it kind of struck me a little bit,” Lima told CNN affiliate WJAR.
Lima took one of the women aside so they could talk about what happened without the children hearing. Store employees kept the kids occupied, so they wouldn’t know what was going on.
“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 WJAR.
He looked at the receipt to see what the women had planned to buy and saw they were just getting food.
“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?” Lima told WJAR.
He served them with a notice not to trespass, but did not press charges, police said.
“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.”
Lima bought a $250 gift card for the women, so they could buy their groceries at a different store.