Misunderstandings on social media have led to some pretty ferocious witch hunts in the past – but this pizzeria owner is instead trying to use it for good.

Damian Penner, the owner of Rocco’s Pizzeria in Steinbach, Manitoba, found security footage of a woman and her four children stealing pizzas from his store on Sunday night.

The woman stood by the counter arguing with the cashier and pretending to ponder the menu while her children ran about the store, causing a ruckus.

When the employee became sufficiently flustered, the woman can be seen slipping four pre-made pizzas into her bag from a freezer. The family eventually left the restaurant only to return a few minutes later so the kids could snag more of the frozen pizzas while the mother talked to the cashier.

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Judging by the footage, Penner is guessing that the children were meant to serve as a distraction.

Though he was initially upset about the theft of 7 to 8 pizzas, Penner considered that the mother may have just been stealing in order to feed her children.

The pizzeria owner then took to social media with a unique request.

“To the lady that stole 8 take and bake pizzas last night. We do not know the situation you are in, and don’t know if it was malicious, or to feed your children. But please, ask for help either way.

“You can’t continue to get your children to assist you in stealing, as they are young, impressionable, and still learning. You may feel like there is no other way, but regardless you have to parent, and can’t raise your children as an example like this. We wont post your picture, or go to the police, as this happened one time.

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“Again, we don’t know the circumstances, and posting your photo would do nothing more than shame you in a community that is here to help you! If you need help, please come in and talk to me personally. We know of many resources out there, and work closely with many groups that can help lift you out of the circumstances you may be in!”

The post has since been shared over 300 times, but Penner says that the woman has not contacted him. Because he works with several church and charity organizations, however, he hopes that she will see the post and accept his offer of help.

“I’m a family man and this is a family that I don’t want to give unjust stress to, but would rather see the community try and help them out,” he told CBC in reference to deciding against posting the security footage.

“Putting her picture on social media is just going to [cause] shame. Rather than trying to shame somebody I want to try and give them a hand up.”

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