Photo by THE CANADIAN PRESS Toronto Police Const. Niran Jeyanesan is shown in Toronto, Tuesday. The Toronto police officer who purchased a shirt and tie for an alleged shoplifter after learning the young man needed the clothing items for an upcoming job interview said Tuesday that he wanted to show kindness to someone who had fallen on hard times.

Toronto cop helps alleged shoplifter

TORONTO — A Toronto police officer who purchased a shirt and tie for an alleged shoplifter after learning the young man needed the clothing items for an upcoming job interview said Tuesday that he wanted to show kindness to someone who had fallen on hard times.

Const. Niran Jeyanesan said he wasn’t rewarding the behaviour of a hardened criminal when he made the purchase, but rather using his discretion as an officer in deciding that this case merited credit card charges rather than criminal ones.

“He was very remorseful, very ashamed,” Jeyanesan said of the teen. “… I could see that this is truly a mistake and this person wanted a chance at life.”

Jeyanesan said the case unfolded on Sunday night when he and his partner were called to a Walmart in the city’s north end in response to a report of shoplifting.

Such calls are routine, but Jeyanesan said the details of this incident quickly caught his attention.

The would-be thief had attempted to steal a long-sleeved shirt, a tie and a pair of socks, he said, adding such items are not common targets for shoplifters.

Jeyanesan said the unusual merchandise prompted him to try and dig deeper and find out the reasons behind the teen’s actions.

The story he heard was of a young man in a time of crisis, he said.

His family had recently lost their home after his father — the principle bread-winner — fell seriously ill, he said, adding the 18-year-old felt mounting pressure to fill the financial void and help provide for his parents and younger siblings.

Jeyanesan said the teen had secured a job interview for a “service industry position,” but did not have professional-looking clothes to wear.

As the interview date approached, he resorted to shoplifting out of desperation and a lack of awareness of other options available to him.

“We try to get everybody’s story when we attend calls. Everyone has their own battles that they’re fighting,” he said. “It doesn’t excuse them, but behind every action there’s a reason why this person is doing it.”

Before police transported the teen back to the station for some additional questioning, Jeyanesan decided he would acquire some suitable clothes for the teen.

He went back into the store to try and select something himself, but didn’t know the teen’s size. He eventually asked the manager to hand over the original shirt and tie, which he purchased for about $40. He opted not to acquire the socks.

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