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Cops praised after paying for woman’s groceries instead of arresting her for shoplifting

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These three cops might have been unknown before, until a good deed of theirs made its way into social media.

People who have never been through extreme hunger tend to underestimate what it can cause to individuals who have. This desire must be satisfied or if not, it can lead some to commit crimes that they thought they could never do.

WVLT 8 / CBS

These NYPD cops understand what an empty stomach can do to a person, so when they encountered a woman who stole food, they chose to take the road less traveled. Instead of punishing her, they paid for the goods that she stole.

Last week, a woman at Union Square Whole Foods was stopped by security for putting unpaid items in a bag.

Three cops who ride bicycles for the NYPD’s Strategic Response Group were on detail near Union Square when they stopped by Whole Foods to grab a quick lunch. There, the female shoplifter was confronted by the security guard, who then called the cops over.

Lt. Louis Sojo asked the woman what’s going on.

“She told me she was hungry. I looked in her bag,” he said.

Inside were three cardboard takeout containers with food from the buffet.

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Twitter | @PBOZ

Everybody expected the cops to punish the woman for stealing, but Sojo believed that there was a better and more humane approach to what she did. He decided that he, along with Officers Michael Rivera and Esnaidy Cuevas, should pay for the woman’s lunch.

The decision was made without a word among them.

“Sometimes cops don’t actually have to have a conversation,” he said. “We just look at one another. We tend to read off of one another. We just did like a nod. When I asked that lady what’s going on, she mentioned to me that she needed some food. And we looked at each other like yeah, it wasn’t such a serious crime.”

The woman got extremely emotional and speechless. All she could say to the officers was “Thank you”. Clearly, she was shocked that the officers did that for her.

Cuevas added that it was not uncommon for cops to buy a coffee or sandwich for a person who needs it.

“If it happens, we just have to do the right thing. We do the right thing for each other at work, why not do it for somebody outside?” he said.

Paul Bozymowski, a documentary filmmaker, was there at the time for cookout materials. He witnessed the touching moment and shared it on his Twitter.

“This woman was being held by security. She had food in her bag she didn’t pay for. When the NYPD showed up, they paid for her food,” he wrote.

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Twitter

Multiple media outlets caught wind of the story and naturally, the three officers’ compassionate fourth of July gesture went viral.

“We did not know it was going to get the attention that it has gotten. We’re very low-key individuals and extremely humbled by this. We did not do it for the attention”, Sojo said.

“Throughout the city, throughout the state, throughout the country, that’s what cops do. We enforce the law, but we also help people. Unfortunately, the helping part doesn’t get recognized. We’re extremely humbled by this attention,” he added.

Well done, officers! We need more positive stories like this about the police force because, as Officer Sojo said, the “helping part” that they play often doesn’t get lauded. But now, it clearly was.

Watch the video below from CBS News to learn more about this story.

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