Public donates US$45,600 to shoplifting mother

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A single mother caught shoplifting for her sick child has received public donations of more than 300,000 yuan ($45,600 U.S dollars), after her arresting officer posted her story online recognizing her as not just a woman breaking the law but a woman in need.

The mother and daughter could only afford to squeeze themselves into a room, two-meters square. [Photo: Modern Express]

The mother and daughter could only afford to squeeze themselves into a two- square-meter room. [Photo: Modern Express] 

According to newspaper Modern Express, Liu Jinjia, a divorced mother, was on May 31 caught shoplifting a drumstick and a children's book at a supermarket in Nanjing of east China's Jiangsu province- apparently as Children's Day gifts for her ill daughter.

She has two daughters, both of whom suffer from renal disease. Liu brought one of her daughters, who is 7 years old and suffers from severe symptoms, from their home in east China's Shandong province to Nanjing for treatment on May 25. But as a worker at a recovery station she could only manage to earn less than 50 yuan ($7.6 U.S dollars) a day. Most of her money is spent on her daughter's treatment, which costs more than 100 yuan ($15 U.S dollars) a day. The mother and daughter could only afford a two-square-meter room to sleep in at night.

Liu said her daughter wished to receive a drumstick as a Children's Day gift. The book, the Three-Character Classic, is a textbook required for her daughter's class that she had not been able to afford.

She only planned to buy some grain for her daughter, but she could not resist the desire to give her child a happy Children's Day, Liu said.

Touched by Liu's story, a policeman posted details of her situation on his Wechat account, a Chinese mobile messaging app, asking for donations and help.

The story was picked up by local news portal Modern Express, who reposted Liu's story on China's twitter-like Weibo account, and even set up a donation channel for the family.

The post quickly went viral and was forwarded by many Chinese celebrities such as actress Yao Chen, gathering donations of over 300,000 yuan ($45,600 U.S dollars) in less than three hours.

The incident has also sparked debate on social media, focusing on the rights and wrongs behind the "most tragic Children's Day gift".

"I don't support illegalities, but I do feel very sorry for them," said @Yisuoyanyuheiheihei.

"The mother was wrong, and received her due punishment; but it's also justifiable to donate money to her. They shouldn't be paradoxical," said @Xiaotuzibuaixiao.

Some also looked deeper into the case and reflected upon the flaws in China's welfare system that failed to offer the sick and impoverished sufficient subsidies.

"The case reminds me of a story: in 1935, Mayor LaGuardia of New York City levied a 10-dollar fine on a woman who had stolen a loaf of bread for her starving family, but then he fined everyone in the courtroom fifty cents, for 'living in a city where a person has to steal bread in order to eat'," remarked @Lanbanmeiwen.

"When a man commits a crime for money, it is the man who is guilty; when a man commits a crime for food, it is the society that is guilty; when a man commits a crime for his dignity, it is every one of us that is guilty," @Zaizaimiguang.


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