A police officer is in the spotlight after a mother of six stole from her local Walmart. The incident didn’t end with your typically arrest for shoplifting, and this mom wants everyone to know how the officer treated her in front of her kids.
Sarah Robinson tragically lost her husband after he drowned during an accident, and she had been struggling to make ends meet ever since. Trying to provide for herself and her six children — 15-year-old Emily, 13-year-old Sophia, 12-year-old Angelina, 4-year-old Miley, and 2-year-old twins Becky and Bella — had not been easy. They spent most of their time in their car, from which all of their possessions had recently been stolen.
When she was running out of diapers for her twin daughters and couldn’t afford to buy more, Sarah decided to steal some from a Walmart in Roeland Park, Kansas. “I was just going to potty-train them, but I didn’t have a place for them to bathe,” Sarah said. “I had lost my house and all of our belongings, and I don’t have a job. So, I went to Walmart, grabbed clothes, shoes, diapers, wipes, and I just walked out, but they caught me.”
Officer Mark Engravalle arrived at the scene, but this wasn’t going to be an ordinary arrest. He had been a police officer in Roeland Park since December 2013, and calls to this Walmart are a daily occurrence. Typically, people steal things like jewelry, cosmetics, and electronics — things that aren’t necessities.
However, the cop noticed that Sarah hadn’t stolen the usual items and that her six children were crying and distressed. Three of the kids were barefoot and had dirty feet, and it touched his heart. “He noticed [what she stole] were necessities like diapers, shoes for the kids, some clothing,” Roeland Park public information officer John Demoss later explained. “He asked her what the situation was, and she broke down crying.”
The incident struck a chord with Officer Engravalle. After releasing Sarah with just a citation for misdemeanor theft, Engravalle reached into his own pocket and went back inside the store with her children to buy diapers, baby wipes, and clothes for the kids. He even let them pick out their own shoes. “Walmart might see her as a criminal, but I just saw her as a mom going through a really difficult time,” he said.
As a police officer, Engravalle was required to write Sarah a citation, but officers also are supposed to help people. As a human being and a father, he couldn’t just walk away. “I didn’t give it a second thought. I just wanted to do right by the children,” he explained.
Police Chief John Morris of Roeland Park said he wasn’t surprised by what Officer Mark Engravalle did. “He’s a really good guy with a compassionate heart,” Morris said. However, the kind-hearted officer wasn’t quite done helping Sarah Robinson and her six daughters.
“I got a call the next day saying they wanted to help us further and help us get a place to live,” Sarah said. It seems that Officer Engravalle’s actions sparked a sort of unofficial effort of kindness in the community as the police station was reportedly inundated with calls from people asking how they can personally help the needy family.
Sarah Robinson was overcome with emotion when asked what the officer’s gesture meant to her. “I’m so appreciative. I’m embarrassed that I was stealing, but it couldn’t go to more deserving girls,” Sarah said. “There isn’t enough words in the world to thank him enough. Me and my girls are indebted to him forever,” she concluded.
For every “bad cop” story that we hear in the news, it’s comforting to know that there are so many more good guys out there. This world sure could use a few more police officers like this in it – or good people for that matter. If only people were a little bit less concerned with only themselves and were willing to listen and help solve the problems of others, imagine the world we would live in.