“What happened, Mr. Lewis?” the Officer asked, his pen poised over his notepad.
“I kept my eye on that no-good punk the minute he walked through the door. Skulking around, his hat low over his eyes so no one could really see his face. They come in here all the time, baggy clothes to conceal whatever they’re stealing. Which is anything they can get their grubby hands on. Nothing but trouble! What the hell are you people doing about this?” The store owner slammed his fist on the counter, the dull thud punctuating the end of his question.
“I understand your frustration, sir, but for right now let’s just talk about this incident,” the Officer said, sympathetic but firm.
Mr. Lewis pursed his lips, and his face reddened at the rebuke, but he did as he was asked. “He came in, walked around, not buying, not shopping, and I knew he was up to no good. I look away for a second. A second! And he’s running out the door with this lady’s groceries,” Mr Lewis said, and then motioned to the woman speaking with the Officer’s partner. “Those punks have no respect!”
Out of earshot of the shop owner and the first Officer, the partner spoke with the woman. “I know you’ve had a long day, ma’am,” the other Officer said, as the baby boy in the woman’s arms fussed, “but we just need your statement, and you can be on your way.”
“Look, I know the owner is mad, but I don’t want to press charges, or anything. At that point the food was mine, right?”
“That’s not up to me. I’m just here to take your statement for now.”
The woman blew out a breath, and bounced the baby on her hip to help quiet him. “Okay, well, I noticed the kid when he came in, too. He was going up and down the isles, looking around. He’s real thin, and hungry looking. His clothes are baggy and faded, but they look like hand-me-downs, not a style choice,” she scoffed. “It’s not like the kid stole booze or cigarettes. He kind of cruised by the cart, glancing in my bags, then snatched the one with eggs, some cheese, and bread,” she finished.
“I think he was just hungry.”