KEYC - Mankato News, Weather, Sports - - Police Officer Gives Shoplifters an Early Christmas Present

UPDATED: Police Officer Gives Shoplifters an Early Christmas Present

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MANKATO, Minn. -

A routine shoplifting call turns into an unexpected story of the Christmas spirit.

A homeless couple was caught stealing food from a local supermarket.

Even though they were ticketed for the theft, they still left the store with the ingredients for a holiday meal.

A viewer was so moved at what they were seeing that they contacted us about the story.

At 4:42 Sunday afternoon, Officer Steve Hoppe, a 15–year veteran with the Mankato Department of Public Safety, responded to the hilltop Hy–Vee in Mankato.

A man and a woman had been caught taking an entire shopping cart full of food without paying.

Commander Jeremy Clifton says, "We had a family in need. A family in crisis who made a poor decisions to fulfill some Christmas dinner ideas."

Officer Hoppe tracked them down at their relative's home and brought them and the stolen goods back to the store.

It was ingredients for making tacos for them, their 4–year–old child, and family members they were staying with.

But while the loss prevention paperwork was being filled out, Hoppe decided to send them home with a more traditional Christmas dinner.

Clifton says, "Officer Hoppe and Hy-Vee determined that the best case scenario would be to purchase a Christmas ham and potatoes and vegetables so they can enjoy a Christmas meal together."

Officer Hoppe says, "I called my wife while I was there to tell her what I was thinking of doing. She said, 'absolutely, you're doing God's work.' If you have any hope or love for humanity this is the type of stuff you do. You give back when you can."

Hy–Vee declined to comment on the story, adding that it was company policy to request charges against anyone caught shoplifting, though their security manager did chip in $20 for the food.

And supervisors with Mankato Police are proud of the actions taken by their officer.

Clifton says, "Steve called me after it happened and gave me a heads up about it last night. I was on my way out the door and he called and said, 'boss, this is what I have going on. I want to make you aware of it in case it comes up. I used a little discretion.

"I thought it was absolutely appropriate, especially during this time of the year and for the circumstances that were involved."

Hoppe says, "I hope that they view law enforcement in a positive light. I know the male individual involved has had contacts with us in the past. I don't know how many of them were good. I'm guessing a majority weren't. Hoping maybe he learned something from this. Clearly he understands he made a mistake. Hopefully the don't do it again and they have a Merry Christmas."