TUKWILA, Wash. -- Police officer Mike Boehmer and Sgt. Mike Murphy have nearly 40 years on the force between them. Last Monday, the two were called to Southcenter Mall to catch a shoplifter.
“This lady was described as leaving with two young children, so we wanted to check on the kids,” says Murphy.
When they finally tracked down the suspect and the children, they realized this was no ordinary crime.
“She stopped, she dropped the bags and she kind of broke down in tears,” says Boehmer. “They were hysterical. The poor kids were scared to death.
"She said she was the recent victim of domestic violence and that she was homeless,” says Murphy.
Boehmer knew just how to calm everyone down. “Doc came to the rescue! Yes he did,” says Boehmer.
He let the children play with his K-9 partner, Doc. The mother explained she'd stolen some children's gloves and hats to keep her 6-year-old daughter and 4-year-old son warm, while they were stranded out in the cold for the day.
“They were riding the bus to stay warm,” says Boehmer.
“They had a place to stay that night. They had a friend to stay with, but they had no one to stay with during the day and they didn't know about shelters to go to,” says Murphy.
Boehmer returned their stolen items and bought the children warm gloves and hats. Murphy gave mom a list of resources and shelters and wished them well.
“She came over and gave me a really heartfelt hug. Ya know, you're not supposed to hug the police. But it was great. It made me feel good,” says Murphy.
It's a story you don't hear often and it's definitely one they weren't chomping at the bit to share.
“He was mortified when I asked him to come on the news and talk about what he'd done,” says Murphy. “I was terrified. It’s just not something we do. We don't become police officers to get notoriety like this."
But, it’s the kind of story that's not told often enough.
“She needed help, so we were glad to help her out,” says Boehmer.
Murphy and Boehmer say the mother won't face any shoplifting charges. They just hope her and her children are OK. They say it’s a night on patrol they will never forget.