Police Posts Man Who Allegedly Stole Diapers on Facebook – Their Efforts Backfire With Unexpected Response
With so many people struggling during this pandemic, many felt the man was unfairly targeted.
He allegedly stole diapers and wipes for his kids
The Winter Haven Police Department in Florida posted on Facebook to ask the public for help identifying an alleged criminal, as they usually do.
But this particular post pissed off many of those who saw it.
“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,” police wrote on Facebook on Sept. 18, according to The Washington Post.
The Facebook post also featured a photo of the man carrying a couple of bags of diapers and some wipes. With him were two children, but their faces were covered with a smiley face emoji.
“The guy pictured below (poor little kids had no idea) went to Walmart…and selected items ultimately heading for the checkout lanes,” the post continued.
Police went on to explain how the man tried to pay for the diapers and wipes, but his credit cards were declined. He then left the store, before returning without the kids.
“He comes back in with a different card. That card was also declined several times. BUT… he decides to take the items anyway. He was seen entering a white SUV, possibly a Chevy Trailblazer. Anyone recognize him?”
Strangers offered to pay for the diapers
The post immediately sparked disappointment in the fact that the police were searching for someone about such a harmless crime.
“Doubt I will get a response, but I will pay for these items as long as you leave this man alone,” wrote 16-year-old Elizabeth Fiedler, according to The Post.
Fiedler’s post received more than 4,000 likes and other comments poured in from across America and even other countries.
“I’m very supportive of police in general, but this is just cold and heartless,” wrote a man from Jacksonville.
“I am so disappointed in this post. I’ll pay for his diapers. I’m not saying it was right but seriously. I’m sorry guy for the embarrassment and sorry for the person who felt the need to post this,” another wrote.
Fiedler explained to The Post that she wrote the comment because lower-income people have been some of the worst-hit people by the pandemic.
“No one wants to be poor,” she said.
“No one should ever feel the need to steal out of necessity in one of the world’s richest countries.”Elizabeth Fiedler
People wondered why this man was targeted
Following the backlash, Winter Haven Police Department responded.
“Many people are upset with the police department [but] Walmart is the victim and they asked us to file the report and they want to press charges,” their press relations officer wrote, according to The Post. “We are obligated to move forward.”
“When this occurs and we don’t have a suspect name, we utilize social media to seek out the public’s help,” the department added. “This has always been a very good tool in identifying those who commit crimes. This case is no different.”
But people disagreed with that, too.
“The world we live in is hard,” said Brooke Brennan, who offered to pay the man’s Walmart bill. “I can’t fix the world, but I can show compassion to those having a tougher time than myself.”
“My first reaction to the photos was not that the man pictured was a thief [but] rather a father facing an impossible decision to either break the law or not have basic necessities for his kids,” she added.
“I don’t disagree that he broke the law,” said Marshall Welch. “What I disagree with was out of all the cases they get from Walmart, why did they choose to blast a father trying to provide for his children after many attempts to pay for the items?”
The man wasn’t charged
Walmart did not comment or release a statement, but when the man was finally identified, the retail giant decided to not press charges.
“We made contact with the man and explained to him that Walmart is not going to press charges,” said the PR person for the police department. “We also provided a host of local organizations that are available to help.”
“We let him know of the many people wanting to help him and his family,” she added.
At least one person was happy that the man wasn’t charged with theft.
“As a parent, I sympathized with the gentleman because there is no greater hurt than needing something for your child and not having the ability to obtain it,” said Crystal Maddox, according to The Post. “In a time when things are already difficult for the family, piling on criminal charges would surely make matters worse.”
“Prayers were answered for the fact that they declined to prosecute,” she added. “I’m very grateful for that.”
People don’t need to be reminded that stealing is wrong
Sorry, but Walmart, a multinational company worth billions and billions of dollars, isn’t the victim here. This man, who just needed some diapers for his kids, is.
People were understandably furious that this man was treated the same as a violent criminal with that Facebook post. Fortunately, thanks to strangers for speaking up, he didn’t end up having to pay any larger price.
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