A couple's three-year-old daughter was taken away from them for 18 hours after being arrested for forgetting to pay for a $5 sandwich while grocery shopping.

"This is unreal this could happen to a family like ours," says Makiki resident Nicole Leszczynski.

She is thankful to have her 3-year-old daughter Zophia back home. She says Wednesday their family was torn apart while on a shopping trip at Safeway on Beretania street.

"We walked a long way to the grocery store and I was feeling faint, dizzy, like I needed to eat something so we decided to pick up some sandwiches and eat them while we were shopping," she says.

Leszczynski who is 30-weeks pregnant, her husband Marcin and daughter Zophia loaded up a shopping cart and paid for $50 worth of groceries. But forgot about the $5 sandwich.

"It was a complete distraction, distracted parent moment," she says.

That's when store security stopped them, and asked for their receipt.

"I offered to pay, we had the cash we just bought the groceries."

Instead she says the store Manager called police. The couple was taken to the HPD main station and arrested for 4th degree theft. Zophia was taken into custody by Child Protective Services.

"When they notified us that they would have to take her because we both would be arrested, I just couldn't believe it, couldn't believe this was happening, because I forgot to pay for the sandwich and that she's never been away from us this long," she says.

Leszczynski says she spent a sleepless night worrying about her daughter and shared the ordeal on the website babycenter.com. A post that grabbed the attention of hundreds of outraged parents.

"We didn't know where our daughter was, didn't know what the situation was, she didn't have any clothes they just took her right from the grocery store," she says.

Zophia was returned to her parents 18-hours later.

Safeway Management issued this statement: "Safeway is aware of the incident and is working closely with the appropriate law enforcement authorities. The incident is under review but until the investigation is finalized it would be premature to comment."

"I hope no one else has to go through this," says Leszczynski.

The couple says say it was never their intent to steal the sandwich. They plan to argue against the shoplifting charge when they appear in court in November.

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