03/12/2012 12:04 GMT | Updated 02/02/2013 10:12 GMT

Jeffrey Hillman: Homeless Man Gifted With Boots By NYPD Officer Larry DePrimo Is Barefoot Again

The homeless, barefoot man who was snapped being handed a pair of boots by a police officer is shoeless once more.

NYPD officer Larry DePrimo became the darling of the city after he was pictured handing a $75 ($46) pair of boots he'd personally bought to Jeffrey Hillman.

The image was posted on the NYPD's Facebook page and quickly went viral, so far clocking up close to 218,000 likes there alone.

larry deprimo

'Let's put them on and take care of you': Larry DePrimo hands the boots to the barefoot man

On accepting the gift, Hillman reportedly told DePrimo: "I never had a pair of shoes".

But just a day later, Hillman was spotted once again wandering the streets of New York City - barefoot again.

The New York Times quotes him as saying: "Those shoes are hidden. They are worth a lot of money. I could lose my life."

While the ex-soldier admits he was certainly grateful for the all-weather boots, he seemed somewhat ruffled by the attention the moment received.

He said: "I was put on YouTube, I was put on everything without permission. What do I get? This went around the world. I want a piece of the pie."

The publicity has however alerted Hillman's family to his plight.

His niece Alegra Hall told the New York Post: "Jeffrey has his own life, and he has chosen that life, but he knows that our hearts and homes are always open to him.

larry deprimo

'I didn't think anything of it': DePrimo has been very modest about his act of kindness

"He knows that, he's well aware of that."

For his part, DePrimo is now doing the rounds on the talkshow circuit, including CNN and the Today Show.

The 25-year-old was reportedly given a pair of cufflinks by the police commissioner in recognition of his good deed and Mayor Michael Bloomberg tweeted DePrimo's story is "an important reminder to give back this holiday season".

The shot was taken by tourist Jennifer Foster, who noticed Hillman begging for change during a visit to Times Square.

In a post on the NYPD Facebook page, Foster writes: "Right when I was about to approach, one of your officers came up behind him. The officer said: 'I have these size 12 boots for you, they are all-weather. Let's put them on and take care of you.'

"The officer squatted down on the ground and proceeded to put the socks and the new boots on this man. The officer expected NOTHING in return and did not know I was watching."


DePrimo told Newsday: "I had two pairs of wool winter socks and combat boots, and I was cold."

He came across the man on Seventh Avenue near 44th Street and offered to buy him socks and shoes.

DePrimo, who has been on the force for three years, walked to a nearby shoe shop and bought the boots and socks.

Returning to the man, he knelt down and helped him put the footwear on. DePrimo recalled: "He smiled from ear to ear. It was like you gave him a million dollars."