Police officers in Orem, Utah, are receiving a lot of attention for the way they treated a shoplifter.
Officer Jared Goulding of the Orem Police Department said that he would never condone shoplifting, but when he found out why a local mother was doing it, he wanted to help her rather than punish her for the crime.
“This [theft] was totally different [from most cases],” Goulding explained to KTVX. “It wasn’t Bluetooth speakers, it wasn’t things that are luxuries. It was food to feed her family that she couldn’t afford otherwise.”
The shoplifting mother, as officers discovered, did not have any furniture in her apartment and could not afford any Christmas gifts for her children.
Officers felt terrible for the struggling mother and decided to gather the whole Orem Police Department to organize a sub-for-Santa project. Over the course of several weeks, the police department collected money and gifts from officers and members of the community. Stores like Restore Home Improvement Outlet donated furniture to the cause.
Goulding says that although the mother could still potentially face charges for theft, the situation has helped him and his fellow officers understand different perspectives.
“We hope to, and we plan to really make this hopefully a wonderful Christmas for this small family who, in our opinion, truly deserves to have a little help,” Goulding said.
The officers bought the mother a Christmas tree, gifts for her children and a lot of groceries to feed her family.