Officer steps in to help homeless woman, family caught shoplifting

Sarah Robinson said her husband drowned at Smithville Lake and two months ago she and her girls lost their home. When she was caught shoplifting, she didn't expect the officer to do what he did.

A mother of six girls was stopped at a Roeland Park Walmart for stealing diapers, baby wipes and clothes.

The officer cited her for breaking the law, but he didn't stop there.

Sarah Robinson said she had never done anything like that before and this time, she got caught.

“Of course I’m not real good at the criminal thing,” she said.

Her six girls are ages 16, 15, 12, four and two year old twins. Her two year old twin daughters desperately needed diapers.

“I didn't have any diapers. They were both really, really full and I took the diapers off of them and I rinsed them out and I was trying to potty train them, but without a house or somewhere to go to regularly, I couldn’t. So I went to Walmart and I was going to steal diapers and wipes,” Robinson said.

Her 12 year old was with her as they grabbed the diapers, shoes and clothes and tried to walk out of the store, but their attempt was foiled when the store manager caught them.

Roeland Park Police Officer Mark Engravalle was called to the scene.

“She was crying, her 12 year old daughter was crying, she thought her mom was going to go to jail,” Engravalle said.

The officer looked at the girls and saw something that even the trained officer couldn’t bear to see.

“When I asked her if she had money to purchase the items, she said, no and I noticed the girls had no shoes,” Engravalle said.

He bought each of the six girls a pair of shoes from his own pocket. Then he bought two large boxes of diapers and wipes.

“I thought about my children. Criminally people might view that as wrong, but morally her heart was in the right place to take care of her children,” Engravalle said.

Through tears that streamed down her face, Robinson explained that it's been a struggle ever since 2011. Her husband, Ceasar Mendoza, drowned in a tragic Labor Day accident at Smithville Lake. Up until two months ago, she had a home in Kansas City, KS, but she lost it.

“I got my Section 8 taken away from me,” she said.

At one point Robinson was living in her car.

“We haven’t had regular meals, we don’t have a place we can take a bath," she explained.

But what Engravalle did for them was more than she could have ever asked, Robinson said. He showed compassion.

“It was a miracle. It was really nice for him to do. He didn’t have to do that, he could have taken me to jail," Robinson said.

“We don’t get to train in the academy for something like that on behalf of the Chief and all of us here at Roeland Park, we are very proud of Mark,” said Public Information Officer John DeMoss.

Robinson was given a citation for the theft. She will have to appear in municipal court in August.

Meanwhile, the family is living in a rented room until Sunday. Then they will need to find a place to live.

If you would like to help the Robinson family, any donations can be dropped off at the Roeland Park Police Station, 4600 W 51st St #100, Roeland Park, KS.

Copyright 2015 KCTV (Meredith Corp.) All rights reserved.

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