June 30, 2012
ROME: The financial crisis in Europe may have brought out the worst in certain bankers, but it seems to be bringing out the best in Italy's police.
For the second time in less than a month, officers this week called to deal with a shoplifter were reported to have taken pity on the alleged thief and paid for the goods out of their own pockets.
The latest case arose when staff at a supermarket on the outskirts of Siena, Tuscany, alerted police to a suspected robbery. The officers found a 27-year-old Egyptian immigrant and his 19-year-old brother who had apparently failed to pay for goods that had been taken from the shop.
The police established that the older of the two was unemployed and had a wife and two children. Along with some pasta, he and his brother were found to have taken milk, nappies and baby food. At this point, Corriere Fiorentino reported, the officers opened their wallets and paid the bill.
A similar gesture prompted a round of applause from shoppers at a supermarket in Milan after a 76-year-old pensioner, identified only as Angela, was found to have passed through the checkout without paying for a box of Tic Tacs.
Sergeant Arturo Scungio said he and his patrol partner had caught up with the suspect near the shop.
''She was trembling like a leaf and was clearly frightened by the uniform,'' he said. ''From the way she was dressed, I realised she was not well off, that she was one of those who have difficulty making it to the end of the month. I told her what the law was and then I asked her how much pension she received.''
The old lady said that she was on €320 ($395) a month, adding: ''I've always paid my taxes.''
Sergeant Scungio said that by the time they returned to the supermarket checkout, she was in tears. The manager said he did not intend to press charges.
''I opened my wallet and paid the 78¢ owed for the Tic Tacs,'' Mr Scugnio said.
Guardian News & Media