A church in Los Angeles has pressed charges against a homeless man who was caught stealing around $2.25 worth of cookies from the First Baptist Church of Royal Palm Beach.
According to a report in the Palm Beach Post, the homeless man had been looking for assistance from the church when he entered the building and found the unguarded cookie jar.
After beginning to tuck into the church’s cookies, the man was greeted by the church's cleaner.
On finding the homeless man, the startled cleaner called the police.
After discussions between police and church members, it was decided that the church would press charges.
The homeless man was then arrested and taken into police custody.
The story led to some websites criticising the church’s decision to get the man arrested, saying that it went against the Christian values of charity.
Nevertheless, a representative from the church has responded to the criticism by saying that the church’s decision to press charges had the homeless man’s interests at heart.
The representative wrote: "The young man appeared to be under the influence. Since he was wandering around the neighbourhood, 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.”