A controversial post by the Winter Haven Police Department in Florida has dredged up a unique debate over whether it's acceptable for a seemingly desperate father to steal from a multi-billion dollar corporation.
On Saturday, the police department posted security camera footage of a man pushing a shopping cart with his two young children at a local Walmart. According to the police, the man attempted to buy diapers and baby wipes but his card was declined at the self-checkout.
The man left the store then returned without the children to buy the products with a different card which was also declined.
The man then left the store with the items without paying.
The police department posted a photo of the man on its Facebook page with a snarky comment. "So when your card is declined and you try another one with the same result, that is NOT license to just walk out with the items anyway," the department wrote.
(The original post by the Winter Haven Police Department did not obscure the man's face.)
The police department posted the images and description of the crime in an attempt to find the man and charge him with shoplifting. According to Winter Haven police, Walmart has a zero-tolerance policy and wants the man to be arrested.
This post rubbed a lot of people the wrong way because the man was caught stealing necessities for his children. He wasn't stealing alcohol or a television set. Diapers are not cheap and there are a lot of people struggling to make ends meet during the pandemic.
The post received well over 1,000 comments with many offering to pay for what the man stole.
There were also a lot of people who thought the police department acted in poor form by shaming a man who committed a crime to provide necessities for his children. Many called the department directly to say they believe the charges should be dropped.
It's impossible to know what type of pressure the man was under when he decided it was better to steal the diapers and wipes instead of paying for them. If he had access to money at home but didn't feel like making a second trip, then stealing the diapers was clearly wrong.
But if the man was down on his luck and had no other options then one can understand his decision. If he didn't, he would have been forced to neglect the health of his young children which is also morally reprehensible.
Regardless if you agree with the man's actions or not, his children shouldn't have to go without clean diapers.
Some in the comments said that there are community resources available to parents who need help affording diapers and he should have reached out to one of those organizations before he decided to steal.
Whether the man was right to steal or not, comes down to all of our personal values. But the positive thing that has come out of the story is the number of people who were willing to help the man by paying for his diapers. It shows that there are a lot of kind-hearted people out there that are looking for ways to help those in need.
It was also heartening to see the number of people who criticized the police department for shaming a man that committed a crime out of what appeared to be desperation. The police have a duty to uphold the law, but that doesn't mean it's right for them to shame parents who are in need.
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