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IMPD officers surprise accused shoplifter with food

Police said a man left a west side grocery without paying for the items he took. Instead of being charged, the man received an unexpected gift from the officers.

INDIANAPOLIS — Two Indianapolis police officers turned into Christmas elves while investigating a shoplifting report, and body cam video captured the pair's kindness and good deed.

It was at the Save-A-Lot on Lafayette Road where IMPD Officer Jim Gillespie and his partner took a page from Santa's playbook. 

"He had dropped a box of food. I got up there and did my search and located a couple of boxes of rice, mashed potato mix," Gillespie said.

Gillespie said the man stuffed the food into his clothes, walking out of the grocery store Thursday without paying.

"He did mention that he was sorry and that he was hungry, and that's why he took off with the food," Gillespie said.

The officers escorted the man back to the store to meet with the manager. 

"He told the guy, 'Listen, if you let us know you're in need, we would have tried to help you out in some way,'" said Gillespie.

The manager didn't press charges, and the officers did one even better. 

"I said, 'Hey, would you let us buy the food?' He (the manager) was like, 'sure,'" Gillespie said.

RELATED: IFD firefighters take local kids shopping for warm winter clothes

The video shows Gillespie following the man out with a bag full of groceries. 

"It's a lot easier way to carry it than inside your sweatshirt. Here you go, Merry Christmas. For you. Yeah. Merry Christmas!" Gillespie said.

Credit: IMPD

"His eyes got big. He was very, very surprised. You could just tell he was not expecting that by any stretch of the imagination."

Gillespie said most calls like these end with a citation or even an arrest. 

RELATED: Best You: East side coffee shop welcoming guests for coffee, community on Christmas Day

"This is an opportunity where we got to turn it around and make someone's day, make someone's holiday. That's one of the reasons why we do the job, is when we could have a positive impact on the community," Gillespie said.

IMPD said you shouldn't be afraid to ask for help if you need it. You can always call 211 for resources like food. 

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