Officers pay for groceries of woman accused of shoplifting

NEW YORK (WABC/CNN) - A woman accused of shoplifting at a New York City grocery store this week got quite a surprise from responding police officers.

Officers said the woman was in need. She was speechless at their act of kindness.

Instead of arresting her, the three policemen decided to pay for her food.

The woman was held at the door, accused of trying to steal food.

“We approached her, I asked her what’s going on," said Lt. Louis Sojo, of the NYPD. "She told me she was hungry.”

“We looked in her bag and what we saw was containers of food,” said Officer Esnaidy Cuevas. “We didn’t see anything else. It was just a necessity food.”

They then paid around $35 of their own money for her food.

“When you look at someone’s face and you notice that they need you and they’re actually hungry you know. It’s pretty difficult as a human being to walk away from something like that. You know we weren’t raised like that you know. So it’s the right thing to do,” Sojo said.

Inside the store a few feet away, Paul Bozymowski snapped this picture of her reaction, an image that went viral.

“It was a really nice moment for people,” Bozymowski said. “It was compassionate and the woman obviously was really grateful.”

"She did thank us. But she was pretty much speechless," Sojo said.

Even the chief of the department tweeted, “Cops like Lt. Soho and officers Cuevas and Rivera of the strategic response group are the kind-hearted cops who quietly do good deeds for New Yorkers in need. My thanks to the photographer for highlighting the often unnoticed.”

"I'm extremely humbled by this,” Sojo said. “But we do not do it for the attention."

Sojo said the woman never gave her information and it's unclear where she is living.

Copyright 2019 WABC via CNN. All rights reserved.

Copyright 2019 WABC via CNN. All rights reserved.