ROCKINGHAM — When Dustin Coke discovered his 5-year-old son had stolen a pack of gum, he called the cops.
Coke said the family was grocery shopping at the Food Lion on East Broad Street Wednesday when he and his wife told their kids they weren’t going to get anything special because they were misbehaving.
His son, Thomas “Buzzy” Coke, picked up a pack of gum that he wanted but was told he couldn’t have it.
After paying for the groceries, the family left the store and went home.
“When we were putting up the groceries,” Coke said, “we noticed the gum.”
Coke said he asked himself, “How do I teach him a valuable lesson?”
He first contacted the Richmond County Sheriff’s Office and was then referred to the Rockingham Police Department.
“All I wanted was an officer to come out and talk to him,” Coke said.
The family loaded up and headed back to the store to pay for the gum the boy had stolen.
“On the way down, he asked if he was going to jail,” Coke said. “I told him no, (the officer) just wanted to talk to him.
Back at Food Lion, the family was greeted by officer J.C. Neeley.
“We all stood and talked with the officer about right and wrong,” Coke said. “We were actually congratulated by the people at Food Lion. (They said) a lot of parents wouldn’t do that.”
Coke said he understands that officers have a dangerous job and that it was “nice to see one with a kind heart.”
“I think it was a good lesson learned for him,” he said. “Whenever you make mistakes, you gotta take the consequences for your mistakes and own up to them. Overall, it was a pretty good day.”
Reach reporter William R. Toler at 910-817-2675 and follow him on Twitter @William_r_Toler.