Mass. Police Officer Pays for Shoplifting Suspects' Holiday Dinner

Somerset Officer Matt Lima says he was reminded of his own children, which prompted him to use his money to buy $250 in grocery gift cards for the women and their children

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A Massachusetts police officer declined to charge two women accused of trying to steal groceries for their children -- and instead bought them Christmas dinner.

Somerset Officer Matt Lima responded to a report of shoplifting on Dec. 20 at a Stop & Shop located at 815 Grand Army Highway, where two women with two young children were accused of putting some groceries into bags at a self-checkout kiosk without scanning them.

The women said they had fallen on hard times and were trying to provide a Christmas dinner for the children.

Lima says the children reminded him of his own, so he felt he had to help them out. He subsequently used his own money to purchase $250 in gift cards so the women would be able to purchase the groceries they needed for their Christmas dinner.

Somerset Police Chief George McNeil commended Lima for his actions, saying it's a true testament to Lima's great character and decision making.

"His actions exemplify what it means to protect and serve the members of our community," McNeil said in a release on the department's website. "When faced with a difficult situation in which a family was trying to provide a meal for their kids, he made the generous decision to not press charges and instead ensured that they would have a Christmas dinner they could enjoy.”

Officer Lima's actions also caught the attention of rock and roll legend Gene Simmons. The bassist and co-lead singer of KISS called Lima "a real hero" in a tweet on Saturday.

"my respect and admiration for this Policeman, who went beyond the call of duty.!!!" Simmons wrote on Twitter.

Chief McNeil thanked Simmons for the shout out for one of his officers.

"Officer Lima deserves it," McNeil said in a tweet reply to Simmons. "He’s an outstanding police officer, a great husband and father. So happy he works for our department!"

Simmons thanked the Somerset chief and said it goes without saying that a lot of this comes down to great, ethical leadership.

The Somerset Police Department was delighted to see Simmons recognize Lima's good deed, writing on Facebook, "Wow! Even the great Gene Simmons of KISS giving a shout out to Matt!!"

The Associated Press contributed to this report

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