A church has decided to press charges against a homeless man who entered through an unlocked door and stole around $2.25 in cookies.
According to a report from the Palm Beach Post:
A homeless man stole cookies from a church in the 10700 block of Okeechobee Boulevard. A deputy found him sitting by the building’s entrance. He said he had been looking for assistance, pulled on a door and it opened. He helped himself to the cookies, but a cleaning person saw him and called 911. A church employee arrived at the scene and said the church would press charges. The man was arrested and taken to the county jail. The value of the cookies was $2.25.
The PBP report did not name the man or the church, but doing a maps search reveals the church to be First Baptist Church of Royal Palm Beach.
(Hat tip to Patheos.)
A church member has since responded via the Patheos website in order to shed light (and perhaps do a little damage control) regarding the church’s logic.
From the explanation:
A young man entered the closed church building several weeks ago while the custodial company was cleaning. He went into the kitchen and took some cookies. The building was empty with the exception of a contracted cleaning lady. He startled her and she dialed 911. The PBSO (Palm Beach County Sherriff Office) officer contacted one of our non-pastoral staff who lives near the campus.
The officer was familiar with the situation and explained to her that the young man was just put out of his home by his family because of his disruptive and destructive lifestyle. The young man appeared to be under the influence. Since he was wandering around the neighborhood, the officer suggested the best course may be to press charges for the incident which would enter the young man into the system where he could find help.
The church staff member agreed. Although our church partners with PBSO to provide hundreds of meals for needy families, this time we agreed with the officer’s suggestion that the young man needed more help than just a free meal. We have contacts with rehabilitation programs. We do refer individuals to such programs and in retrospect we might have done so with this individual.
Following the lead of the officer in this case seemed reasonable at the moment for our representative who was called to the church facility with the responsibility to secure the building. Thanks for giving us the opportunity to share another facet of the story.
What do you think, readers? Was the church decision to press charges in the best interests of the homeless man, or is the explanation above just a desperate attempt at damage control? Share your thoughts in our comments section.