Shoplifting Teen Gets Surprising, Kind Response From Store Owner

TOLEDO, OH — The owner of a 7-Eleven store in Toledo threatened to call police on the young shoplifter he caught stealing items off the shelves. A clerk already had a 911 dispatcher on the phone, but when store owner Jitendra “Jay” Singh heard the teen’s explanation for his thievery, he softened and told the clerk to hang up the phone.

“He said, ‘I’m stealing for myself. I’m hungry, and I’m doing it for my younger brother,’ ” Singh told news station WTVG.

The teen’s pockets revealed assorted munchies, so Singh sent him back to the food aisles to pick out something better.

“It’s not going to make any difference to me if I give him some food because we make a lot of food, we sell a lot of food,” Singh told the news station. “If he goes to jail, then he’s definitely not going to do anything good in life.”

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Singh’s generosity so touched Cedric Bishop, who was shopping in the store, that he pulled $10 from his wallet and gave it to the teen. “I thought that was an amazing thing the owner did,” Bishop wrote on Facebook, adding that sometimes, “young people just need to know that someone cares.”

Another customer offered to pay for the food, but Singh wouldn’t allow it, Bishop wrote.

The post was shared about 1,500 times.

“I’ll be sure to go to that 7-11!” one person wrote in the comments. “That’s what I’m talking about! We’re supposed to lift each other up whenever possible!”

Others praised Singh’s decision not to involve police. “That poor kid certainly did not need to be in trouble for attempting to feed himself and his little brother,” one person wrote.

Others pointed out the story sheds light on the number of children in America — 13 million of them, one in six kids — who don’t have enough to eat and are considered “food insecure.”

“That’s the way our kids are living now,” one person commented. “Thank God for people who care.”

Singh “has a great, big heart.” Bishop told WTVG.

“I thought that was just beautiful because the young man could have had a record,” he said.

Neera Singh, the store owner’s wife of nearly 30 years, said her husband is a kind man and was just showing his “true self.”

“We are part of the community, and we have to help the community,” she told WTVG. “It is a part of our job.”

All Singh asks is that the teen repays the generosity to someone else when he’s able.

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