An 11-year-old from Herstmonceux who was caught shoplifting got in such trouble with his family that he donated his birthday money to charity as penance.
Police said the boy stole an e-cigarette and cartridges from Superdrug in The Quintins Shopping Centre, Hailsham, but was spotted by the store manager making his escape and was stopped nearby.
When police arrived the boy admitted the theft of the £25 worth of items and handed them back.
The store manager agreed that the incident could be dealt with by community resolution so an officer took the boy home to speak to his mother in Herstmonceux.
The child’s mother was unsurprisingly angry with the boy, who had never been in trouble with the police before, and the child agreed to write a letter of apology to the store and to be banned from going there.
But when he sent the letter to Superdrug he also included £30 in compensation for what he had done - money he had been given for his birthday.
The store did not want to accept the money so instead it was given to MacMillan Cancer Support, which Superdrug backs.
Sergeant Simon Kind said: “The boy said he had been told to steal the items by older children but there is no excuse for theft.
“As the boy had no record of offending and Superdrug and the child’s family supported it, community resolution was agreed to be the best method of punishment for him.
“It may have been guilt that persuaded him to send the money as a donation with the letter of apology but whatever, the reason, the money has now gone to a very good cause.”