A Chorley man who allegedly stole children's clothes, toys and ready meals from Asda is wanted by police.
Lancashire Police have appealed to the public for help in identifying a shoplifting suspect after thefts from Asda in Clayton-le-Woods seven months ago in October 2018.
Police released a high-resolution CCTV image of the suspect, who allegedly stole a trolley-load of children's toys, clothes and ready meals from the store in the Clayton Green Centre.
A spokesman for Chorley Police said: "We would like to speak to the male pictured in relation to shoplifting from Asda in Clayton-le-Woods.
"A quantity of children’s toys and ready meals were taken."
But the appeal has provoked a backlash on social media with hundreds of people suggesting the man might be a 'hungry dad' struggling to feed his children.
A sympathetic Clare Hales said: "Poor man. If you do find him give him my details. He can have food and toys from mine whenever he wants."
Mike Baines added: "Glad I’m not in the position where I need to go through this to feed my kids.
"Not condoning him but he sounds like a victim of universal credit. There are surely more valuable things to nick but he chose toys and food?"
Others were less sympathetic and reasoned that "stealing is stealing".
Joanne Thompson said: "Seriously people he stole end of! No excuses! Help is out there for genuine people!"
The backlash led Chorley Police to respond to the more than 350 comments with further information on the suspect and his alleged offences.
But the police response revealed that the alleged shoplifting offence occurred seven months ago, in October 2018, and led to further antagonism.
Some people challenged police on whether pursuing a shoplifting offence from seven months ago is a priority amid a backdrop of rising vehicular crime and burglaries.
"So... to put this into a bit more context", began Chorley Police.
"This person attended the store twice in the same day and on both occasions took a trolly full of items from the store without paying.
"People make some valid points on here and I would like to assure you that when we deal with anyone who is responsible for acquisitive crime (theft, burglary, robbery etc) we look to find their reasons for committing the crime so that, were appropriate, we can help them and prevent them from committing further crime.
"Sometimes it is due to other habits and sometimes it may simply be down to the fact that they are at rock bottom and need help.
"If this is the case we can refer people to those that can help and encourage them to get help and support.
"This incident happened back in October and other means will have been used to try and locate this person before the image was posted on here."
If you recognise this man or have any information please contact the investigating officers: firstname.lastname@example.org, quoting log number LC-20181022-0598.