'It was in the spirit of Christmas': Salvation Army chooses not to prosecute thieves

The Salvation Army caught four thieves red-handed in Matthews, North Carolina, but it is giving the shoplifters a second chance instead of prosecuting them.

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The Salvation Army says it knew something was wrong when four people were there for four hours, piling up several shopping carts with clothes.

The Salvation Army says some of the shoplifters started putting the clothes on and walked out of the store wearing them.

Salvation Army Capt. Brett Cundiff said, “We’re the cheapest place in town but even on Wednesday everything is 50 percent off already but they’re just desperate.”

The store is often a place where desperate people come for help but on Wednesday it was also where the desperate people came to steal.

Cundiff said, "It was the better name brand stuff and electronics that would do well at pawn shop and that kind of thing. We could've called police. We have video, we have photographs, we know clear as day who they were."

Instead of calling police, Cundiff says they made a different decision.

“It was in the spirit of Christmas, being generous and saying we know you did something wrong but if you stop further we won’t go any further with it," he explained.

Grace is something the Salvation Army preaches year-round and this case gave them the chance to put it to practice.

Cundiff said, “Christmas represents a new chance for everybody. We celebrate Christmas because of the birth of the Christ child and we celebrate that at the Salvation Army and we believe that and extend that same grace to everybody.”

While they aren’t prosecuting the thieves, there is something they do hope they do.

“The main thing that our stores support in Charlotte is a drug and alcohol program. They have substance abuse issues, we would open our doors to any of them who would like to come in and get treatment free of cost," Cundiff said.

The Salvation Army said police have arrested people for stealing at the store before and they will call officers if the thieves come back. This isn't a get-out-of-jail card but instead, it's a special chance to change.

This isn't the first time the Salvation Army has been targeted by thieves.

A few weeks ago, surveillance video captured two men grabbing donations off the back door of the Salvation Army before driving away in a white truck.

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