Anna Alvarez, 31, is being charged with shoplifting and child neglect after employees at a Florida supermarket caught her stealing three packages of cheese while her 5-month-old baby waited in the car. Alvarez told police she was stealing the cheese to feed her children.
Police said the baby, who was sitting in the back of Alvarez's car, was screaming and cold to the touch. Alvarez's husband came to pick up their son while she was being questioned.
The fact that the baby was left in a car while the mother engaged in risky behavior is disturbing. But even more bothersome is the self righteous tone with which police and local television news reporters addressed Alvarez's crime.
I found myself less concerned with why she would leave her baby in the car to steal cheese, and more interested in why she was trying to make off with it in the first place. Maybe she was a scumbag who was just doing dumb shit, but there's a pretty good possibility that she can't afford to buy cheese and needed it to feed her children.
Over the past decade, Florida has experienced what Winter Park Magazine has termed brutal social welfare cuts. So if Alvarez was really having problems getting food for her family, there's a chance that stealing cheese from a super market seemed to her like one of her only options.
Photo credit: Shutterstock; Seminole County Jail