A mother-daughter shoplifting duo from Kansas were in shock after Roeland Park policeman Mark Engravalle (who gave them a citation) turned around and bought the nearly $300.00 worth of shoes, diapers, wipes, and necessities that they were trying to steal from a Wal-Mart.
According to Yahoo! Parenting :
Engravalle is a father of two young children, ages 2 and 6, and explained to the local Prairie Village Post that the state of the family — broke, living out of a car, and without shoes for the five youngest kids — tugged on his heartstrings . “The young kids were barefoot, with their feet all dirty… I know it’s tough for them,” he said. “Obviously she’s going through a tough time. Wal-Mart might see her as a criminal, but I just saw her as a mom who was going through a really difficult time.”
The mother, Sarah Robinson, was already familiar to some members of the police force, as she had been in the local news following the tragic drowning death of her husband in 2011 . “This is a small town, with a population of about 7,000, so we were somewhat familiar with the family,” public information officer John DeMoss tells Yahoo Parenting. “Officer Engravalle just felt, what if it was his own children? So he went above and beyond his duty.”
Regarding the officer’s actions, Police Chief John Morris told the local paper, “Though a citation was issued for theft, the compassion that this officer showed was incredible to say the least. We try to make a difference here in Roeland Park, and this proves to be one of those moments.”
Officer Engravalle was on duty and unavailable for comment on Friday.
Robinson told the officer that she had just used her last dime for the security deposit on a new apartment, but that following a dispute with the landlord, they now had nowhere to live but their car, which was close to broken down.
“He helped us at a time when it seemed nobody else could,” Robinson told KSHB through tears .
Engravalle is the latest do-gooder police officer to gain notice for taking matters into his own hands for families in dire straits. In May, Denver, Colo. police officer TJ Young responded to a domestic violence dispute only to find it was an argument about how a family was going to pay for dinner for their four young children; Young wound up treating them all to a meal. Earlier, Miami, Fla. cop Vicki Thomas purchased groceries for a shoplifter and her children because, as she explained to CNN  at the time, “She touched me. I could relate. I was a single mom and, without the help of my family, that could have been me.“
As for Robinson and her kids, strangers who have read about their predicament are reaching out with donations through the Roeland Park Police, which has been working to the family up with social service from local organizations. “We’ve had people step forward to fix her car,” DeMoss notes, “and we’re all working to help her get back on her feet.” To donate to the family, please contact the Roeland Police at 913-677-3363.
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