Crime Library: Criminal Minds and Methods

Florida cop catches shoplifter, buys her food to feed her family

In an uplifting story out of Miami-Dade County Florida, an on-duty police officer caught Jessica Robles in the parking lot of a South Florida Publix with $300 worth of unpaid for groceries. Officer Vicki Thomas says she stopped the mother of three and  “I asked her, ‘Why would you do that? What would make you do that?” The surprisingly candid reply came, “My children are hungry.”

Robles’ explanation that she had stolen the food out of desperation seemed sincere to the officer, who ran Robles’ record, found nothing major in her criminal history, noting specifically that she was not a repeat shoplifter.

So Thomas did not arrest Robles.

She charged her with a misdemeanor and issued her a notice to appear in court. According to Robles, Thomas asked, “‘Do you even have food at the house?’ And I looked at her in her face, and I told her, ‘Not at all.’” It was a surprise when Thomas “went in and bought her some groceries.” Thomas later said, ”I made the decision to buy her some groceries because arresting her wasn’t going to solve the problem with her children being hungry,”

Thomas helped Robles get the groceries to her house. ”To see them go through the bags when we brought them in, it was like Christmas,” she said. “That $100 to me was worth it.”

Robles and her children, are being supported by her now-unemployed boyfriend, and were strapped when an alleged paperwork problem interrupted their federal assistance. Robles, who is looking for work, later thanked the officer through the media saying, ”All I wanted to tell her is thank you from the bottom of my heart.” In tears, her eldest child, Anais said, ”Thank you so very much for doing it for us, and we’re very thankful.”

Though the looks on the children’s faces was enough payment for her good deed, Thomas did have one condition, ”The only thing I asked of her is, when she gets on her feet, that she help someone else out,” she said, “and she said she would.”

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