(Photo: Screen Grab via WSVN-TV)
A desperate South Florida mother caught shoplifting groceries to feed her family after they hit hard times was saved by a police officer who, instead of arresting her, bought $100 worth of food to help her family.
Jessica Robles told WSVN.com that she had found herself in a difficult situation last month where she had no money to buy food for her children, 12-year-old Anais and two younger boys.
"Not fun, to see my brother in the dirt hungry, asking for food, and we have to tell him, 'There is nothing here,'" said an emotional Anais as she recalled telling her little brothers, ages 2 and 6, that they were out of food.
According to police, Robles went to a Publix supermarket and filled a shopping cart with $300 in groceries and proceeded to walk out without paying, but she was stopped by Miami-Dade Police Officer Vicki Thomas.
"I asked her, 'Why would you do that? What would make you do that?' And she said, 'My children are hungry,'" said Thomas.
Instead of arresting Robles, however, Thomas wrote her a ticket for a misdemeanor charge and took her generosity one step further.
"I made the decision to buy her some groceries because arresting her wasn't going to solve the problem with her children being hungry," said the officer.
"She asked, 'Do you even have food at the house?' And I looked at her in her face, and I told her, 'Not at all.'" Robles said she confessed to Thomas.
The officer said watching Robles' young sons rejoice over the food she blessed them with was reward enough for her.
"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 later explained that her desperation had stemmed from her boyfriend losing his job. He was getting government assistance for food but some paperwork troubles stopped that source of help.
"All I wanted to tell her is thank you from the bottom of my heart," said Robles, who is looking for a job.
"Thank you so very much for doing it for us, and we're very thankful," echoed her daughter.
"The only thing I asked of her is, when she gets on her feet, that she help someone else out," said Thomas.