Kansas Police Officer Buys Diapers, Shoes for Mom Who Shoplifted Them For Kids

Officer Mark Engravalle noticed three of her kids were barefoot.

ByABC News
July 10, 2015, 5:02 PM
Roeland Park police officer Mark Engravalle bought diapers, shoes and other items for a mom who was trying to shoplift them from a Kansas Walmart for her children.
Roeland Park police officer Mark Engravalle bought diapers, shoes and other items for a mom who was trying to shoplift them from a Kansas Walmart for her children.
Roeland Park Police Department

— -- A Kansas mom thought she was going to jail when she was caught stealing at Walmart. But what happened next left her in tears.

Sarah Robinson said she was running out of diapers for her 2-year-old twin daughters when she walked into Walmart in Roeland Park, Kansas, on July 6.

"I was just going to potty-train them, but I didn't have a place for them to bathe," Robinson, of Kansas City, Kansas, told ABC News. "I had lost my house and all of our belongings, and I don't have a job."

Robinson has been struggling to make ends meet since the tragic death of her husband in 2012. She and her daughters, 15-year-old Emily, 13-year-old Sophia, 12-year-old Angelina, 4-year-old Miley and twins Becky and Bella, spent most of their time in their car, from which all of their possessions had recently been stolen, Robinson said.

"So I went to Walmart, grabbed clothes, shoes, diapers, wipes, and I just walked out, but they caught me," said Robinson.

When Roeland Park police officer Mark Engravalle arrived, he noticed that some of the children with Robinson were barefoot and had dirty feet.

"He noticed [what she stole] were necessities like diapers, shoes for the kids, some clothing," Roeland Park public information officer John Demoss told ABC News. "He asked her what the situation was, and she broke down crying."

"My heart just dropped. I didn't know what to say or do. It was horrible. I thought I was going to jail," said Robinson.

After releasing Robinson with a citation for misdemeanor theft, Engravalle went back inside the store with her children and bought diapers, baby wipes and clothes for the children. He even let the girls pick out their own shoes.

"The officer had two children of his own, and he thought of his two kids," Demoss said. "He thought it was the right thing to do."

"He couldn't have been nicer to my girls," Robinson said. "And then I got a call the next day saying they wanted to help us further and help us get a place to live."

Since the incident, there has been an outpouring of support from the community for Robinson and her daughters.

Demoss said the police department has been inundated with calls and people visiting the station asking how they can help. Until the police department can get an account set up at a local bank, they are accepting donations on Robinson's behalf, and tomorrow they will be having an event where people can drop by the station and bring donations for the family.

"I'm so appreciative. I'm embarrassed that I was stealing, but it couldn't go to more deserving girls," Robinson said.

Robinson said she and her daughters have a place to stay until Sunday and will need to find a new home after that. She's also looking for a job in office work.

"I'm bilingual. I speak English and Spanish, and I'm good with computers," she said. "I just want to have a place for my girls."

Demoss said the community has also offered to support officer Engravalle, but Engravalle instead asked that people donate to Robinson or to a good cause.

"There isn't enough words in the world to thank him enough," Robinson said. "Me and my girls are indebted to him forever."