Florida Cop Gives Admitted Shoplifter $100 To Buy Groceries

Shoplifter Jessica Robles said she was unable to feed three children


The central mission of police work is to uphold the law. But police officers are also human beings, and so can find themselves confronted with situations that force them to ask the question -- should I really just look the other way? As south Florida outlet WSVN reported, Florida police officer Vicki Thomas recently found herself dealing with that very dilemma when she discovered a woman was shoplifting from a supermarket simply because she couldn't afford to buy food for her children.

Thomas did arrest Jessica Robles on a theft misdemeanor charge, but opted against booking her and taking her to jail. Instead, she gave her a notice to appear in court. And then Thomas handed her $100 so she could buy more groceries.

Robles was picked up by Thomas at the end of September outside a Publix supermarket in Miami. She didn't do much to hide her theft; she simply walked out of the Publix with a cart filled with $300 in food merchandise. She also made no attempt to cover up her crime. Upon being asked by Thomas why she had waltzed out with the booty, she responded by saying, "My children are hungry," as Thomas recounted to WSVN. She added her boyfriend recently lost her job, but because of a paperwork problem, the federal assistance he was receiving for food had come to an end.

Thomas also told the police she has three children ages 12 and younger. And her 12-year old daughter Anais provided more details about the family's struggles. "Not fun, to see my brother in the dirt hungry, asking for food, and we have to tell him, 'There is nothing here,' " Anais told the news station.

Confronted with such a situation, what was Thomas to do? She first found out that Robles didn't have a criminal past. She then decided to be understanding of Robles's plight, opting against pursuing the struggling mother to the full extent of the law; Thomas charged her with a misdemeanor and gave her a notice to appear in court.

And Thomas didn't stop there, as she told WSVN. "I made the decision to buy her some groceries because arresting her wasn't going to solve the problem with her children being hungry," she said.

Does the Miami-Dade police department condone their officers making such a decision? "Police officers do have discretion, and what Thomas did was completely in bounds," Robin Pinkard, a public information officer for the Miami-Dade police force told AOL Jobs. Pinkard also commended Thomas for first checking into Robles's criminal record.

Others are regarding Thomas's conduct as heroic. "This is the most awesome cop in Miami," declared the Huffington Post. The display of heroism by police officers is a regular feature on AOL Jobs. In one memorable incident from last month, a sergeant in Kansas City responded to a call from a motorist stuck on a bridge. As he arrived on the scene, the motorist was moving to jump off the bridge, but the sergeant was able to grab and save the driver from making a 60-foot plunge.

Thomas, for her part, left the mother, who said she is trying to find work, with a parting message: "The only thing I asked of her is, when she gets on her feet, that she help someone else out," Thomas told the news station. "And she said she would."

This post was updated at 2:30 PM Eastern Time with the interview from Pinkard.

What do you think? Share your comments below.
Filed under: Heroes
Dan Fastenberg

Dan Fastenberg

Associate Editor

Dan Fastenberg was most recently a reporter with TIME Magazine. Previously, he was a writer for the Thomson Reuters news service's Latin America desk. He was also a reporter and associate editor for the Buenos Aires Herald while living in South America.

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joebitesmebiden

Help me, help me, help me Mr. Nobanana, they want me to work and stuff...!!!

February 18 2014 at 5:26 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
joebitesmebiden

What color is she? Public wants to know. Is she green, orange, blue, yellow, tan, red, stupid color or BROWN like SH*T? Or maybe the same color as my big mama? Oops..! Sorry, I don't even know what color my big mama is, sorry, my fault!

February 18 2014 at 5:25 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
joebitesmebiden

She'll do it again next time!

February 18 2014 at 5:23 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
Jena Bee

I think this was although a kind gesture, I certainly don't agree with it at all. Rewarding a crime is never a good thing under any circumstances. Publix made it even worse by offering a job the next day to a thief. This makes no sense at all. There are many applicants far more deserving of employment than a man or woman caught shoplifting. The media is falling for her sob story of not having food for her children as an excuse to steal. I'm pretty sure unfortunately many may be in this position but there are agencies out there that could have possibly helped her. Stealing was not the answer. She seems to have a record of bad decisions and the media wants to promote it by show casing her.

October 29 2013 at 6:53 PM Report abuse -2 rate up rate down Reply
leander887

My hat is off to this officer. It shows that there are good officers out there that still believe in doing what they were hired to do, and that is to help and protect the citizens in their ommuniy

October 29 2013 at 12:17 AM Report abuse +2 rate up rate down Reply
vagamundo

This policewoman's actions are abhorrent to the regressives, who wouldn't spend a penny to assist anyone but a millionare....

October 28 2013 at 9:45 PM Report abuse +1 rate up rate down Reply
Kate

I think the policewoman did the right thing. She made sure she wasn\'t just making it easy for a habitual crook, she met the family and had it confirmed that the children were hungry, and she gave the woman what SHE could afford.

October 24 2013 at 11:28 AM Report abuse +1 rate up rate down Reply
Miguel Cazador

Yeah, except she was stealing over $300 in a full shopping cart, thats a lot of food & most likely it was for re-sale of expensive cuts of meat & detergents so she can buy cigs, malt liquor & newer tats...
SHe could have fed her family by stealing a tenth in monetary value but noooo she would never do that or even go to a shelter/charity pantry or even go the freegan route, guess that takes more work than the five finger discount.
It must be great to be able to turn on the water works with a sob story about "feedung mah kids" & can guarantee you if this was a guy [or black] doing this s/he would have been arrested.

October 24 2013 at 7:06 AM Report abuse -2 rate up rate down Reply
Suzanne Thomas

I know what it is like to be in that women's shoes. I was homeless with 3 babies at one time. Where was the father (s) of her babies? The mother is always damned if she does or damned if she does not. I have been in those shoes as well. I wander how the storeowner felt about the cop letting her off scott free?

October 23 2013 at 6:26 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
Nick DiPalo

Its obvious many commenters here worked a shift in uniform. My partner and I did stuff like this all the time. We just kept it to ourselves. There's a lot more on the surface when you take the time to speak to people.

October 23 2013 at 2:25 PM Report abuse +2 rate up rate down Reply

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