BUKIT MERTAJAM - A father of three was caught shoplifting at a hypermarket here, but instead of being punished, he has been offered a job there - and money to help him out.
The 31-year-old man, who declined to be named, said he was thankful to be given a second chance and a job instead of being handed over to the police after last Wednesday's incident.
He said he stole some food stuff worth RM27 (S$9) from the Tesco hypermarket in Alma because his children were hungry and he did not have any money.
"I had quit my job as a contract worker after my wife fell into a coma during a birth complication last week. She is still warded at the Bukit Mertajam hospital," said the man whose family is from Kuala Nerang, Kedah.
He is currently putting up at a relative's house in Alma. He said he was walking to his relative's house after visiting his wife at the hospital with his two-year-old son when they passed Tesco at about 6pm.
"After walking for more than an hour, we went to the food section and I grabbed the pears, apples and a few bottles of drinks," he said, adding he was caught on the way out.
The store's general manager Radzuan Ma'asan, who interrogated the man, decided to take a different approach in dealing with the crime.
Warning him never to steal again, he offered the man a job at the store.
"The man's situation really touched our hearts. We visited his relative's house. It was so empty and poor," he said yesterday.
Radzuan said his staff visited the man's wife who is now out of coma. The baby however did not survive the birth complication.
Radzuan said the store had yet to decide what type of job to offer the man. "He was not a regular thief. When we questioned him, he immediately confessed, saying that he stole the fruits and drinks because his son was hungry.
"In my 23 years of experience in the retail line, I had never come across thieves who admitted their act so easily. Most would give all kinds of reasons. He also told us that he was unable to work as he has to look after his three children, aged two to seven.
"So, we decided not to lodge a police report as this was a genuine case of extreme poverty.
"For now, our priority is to ensure that he enrols his seven-year-old son in a school," said Radzuan, who handed the man cash to cover his current expenses.