Being a police officer is generally a very difficult and thankless job. Yet, every day, they go out there take abuse and face danger all to make sure our cities and towns are kept safe from criminals.
But sometimes, it is not enough to just “catch the bad guy.” Sometimes, serving and protecting means you have to do more.
When two police officers responded to a report of shoplifting, their job was not over once they arrested the female perpetrator. Instead, when they found out that the woman and her children had not eaten for three days, they took it upon themselves to make a major difference in her life. Not for fame, not for fortune, but because, to these two fine officers, it was just part of their job.
Theresa West and her three adopted kids had not eaten for three days when she desperately turned to shoplifting.
Theresa West had been having a run of bad luck. Money had grown tight for her and her three adopted children, who live in Hillsborough, North Carolina. It got so bad that she was having difficulty affording basic necessities like food.
She knew she needed help, and so she turned to support organizations hoping for some relief. Unfortunately, they all turned her away.
“We called the churches and everything and everyone was like ‘We go through Interfaith Council, we go through this and go through that’ and nobody would give us anything,” West said according to WRAL. “We had nothing.”
So, last weekend, she made a choice. Her family had not eaten for three days; she decided she would have to do what was necessary—steal food.
She stole $36 worth of groceries to feed her family—but her crime was reported.
Desperate and without any relief, West took her family to a local supermarket, Food Lion, where she shoplifted around $36 worth of food.
“I had to go out and steal food, and that’s desperate, and I’m sorry for doing what I did but my kids were hungry,” West said according to WRAL.
But employees caught her in the act and reported her license plate number to the Hillsborough Police Department.
Eventually, Senior Corporal Keith Bradshaw and his partner arrived at her house. After some brief questioning, West, in tears, confessed to the crime.
She was arrested, but officers were moved by her situation—they resolved, of their own accord, to make things right.
But during her confession, Corporal Bradshaw made a stunning discovery.
“I opened the refrigerator and it was completely bare,” Bradshaw said according to WRAL. “I think there was one little pack of cheese in it.”
West was guilty, though, and she was arrested and taken to the police station. However, while she was in custody, Bradshaw and his partner could not get over what they had just seen. Moved by West’s desperate situation, the two officers felt it was their duty to do more.
“So, we said, ‘How can we help that and in the same sense help her so that she doesn’t have to feel that she has to go do those things?” Bradshaw said.
The two officers came up with a plan: the two would pool their own money and buy West groceries.
When West came back from the precinct on bail, she was welcomed home by an incredible surprise.
West managed to get out on bail shortly after being taken into custody, but when she returned Corporal Bradshaw and his partner were waiting for her with two squad cars full of groceries. The two officers had spent nearly $140 of their own money to make sure neither her nor her children would be going hungry.
Needless to say, West was overwhelmed by their generosity.
“My favorite verse is Matthew 23:24, ‘Whenever I was hungry, you fed me,’” West said according to WRAL. “I’m struggling so hard to make it and just to have somebody to come help me is just been a miracle.”
More importantly, representatives from the Hillsborough Police Department told WRAL that this support would continue and that they would get West the help she needs.