Every now and then, a story comes along that restores your faith in humanity. Not too often, but every now and then. Anyway, this is one of them.
Unfortunately, it also involves a sad sign of our times. Jessica Robles, a mom of three in Miami-Dade, Florida, found herself out of food with no money to buy any more. She says that her boyfriend, who helped provide for her family, recently lost his job and due to some sort of paperwork issue, her eligibility for government food assistance ran out.
So Jessica, who has no significant criminal history, made up her mind to commit an act of desperation. She went to a Publix grocery store on South Dixie Highway, filled her cart with about $300 worth of groceries and walked out of the store, with the food, bypassing the checkout counter altogether.
Not being an experienced criminal, Jessica’s ruse didn’t last long. Store employees called police right away.
That’s when officer Vicki Thomas stepped into the picture.
The police officer stopped Jessica, but couldn’t quite believe what she was seeing.
"I asked her, 'Why would you do that? What would make you do that?’” Thomas (pictured above) told local TV station WSVN. “And she said, 'My children are hungry,'"
Thomas ran Robles' criminal history and found that she had none worth mentioning, and was not a regular shoplifter. Then she asked the desperate mother if she had any food at her home at all. Jessica told her that she did not.
"So I went in and bought her some groceries," said Thomas, who said the total bill came to about $100.
She accompanied Jessica home and watched as her children dove into the food, excited to finally eat something.
"To see them go through the bags when we brought them in, it was like Christmas," said the officer. "That $100 to me was worth it.”
"Thank you so very much for doing it for us, and we're very thankful," said Jessica’s 12-year-old daughter Anais, in tears. (Anais is pictured left, below, with her mother.)
"The only thing I asked of her is, when she gets on her feet, that she help someone else out," Thomas said. “And she said she would."
Jessica Robles says she is now going to a food bank while looking for work of her own. Thomas charged her with a misdemeanor offense but did not take her into custody
The officer received her department’s thumbs-up for her actions.
"Police officers do have discretion, and what Thomas did was completely in bounds," said Police Spokesperson Robin Pinkard.