Police are asking the public to help them identify two parents who instructed their children to steal over $30,000 of jewelry from a store while they stood guard. The heist took place in under ten minutes and was caught on surveillance footage. Now, Arkansas police are leading an aggressive investigation to track down the alleged shoplifters who implicated their children in a crime.
The crime. The crime involved a couple, who police presume are the mother and father of the children. In the footage, the mother is seen holding a baby girl. The two little boys actively take part in the theft.
Instruction. In the footage, the mother appears to tell the older boy what to do. He checks to see if a jewelry cabinet is unlocked, and it is. She tells him exactly which items to take.
About ten minutes. For about ten minutes, the mother had her son pulling items from the jewelry case. The father, meanwhile, was acting as a lookout. It is believed that part of the reason the theft was successful is that the retailer was still overwhelmed by post-Black Friday shoppers.
The public's help. The police are asking for the public's help in identifying the responsible parties. The surveillance footage has been widely distributed. Additionally, the owners of Bella Jewelers are offering a $1000 reward to anyone with information that leads to the arrest of the alleged shoplifters.
The children. The children involved in the theft are clearly very young. Obviously, the parents are the people the police are interested in capturing for criminal purposes. The children, however, have now been put in a dangerous situation by their parents.
The well-being of the children. The parents, now on the run from the law, have potentially placed their children in danger. Obviously, the police are prioritizing the safety of the children over the prosecution of the parents. Police therefore urge the parents to turn themselves in so that the children can be safely placed out of harm's way.
Involving children with crimes. Many children are exploited and used in the commission of a crime. It is not uncommon for children to be used as drug mules. This, of course, puts the child in an incredibly dangerous situation.
Teaching children to steal. Some children are exploited by their parents or others into committing petty crimes. For example, pickpocketing. This is common in areas where tourists might be eager to pose with locals.
Human trafficking. Children are often the victims of human trafficking. They are literally sold as slaves to eager buyers. Then, they belong to their owner, and have to do as they are sold.
Forced to beg. It is not a myth that many children are forced to beg for their survival, only to turn over and money that is donated to them to their greedy "owners." It is also not a myth that some children are physically mutilated in order to elicit more sympathy from the public and therefore earn more money. If that particular child doesn't earn any money, he or she probably will not eat that day.
Decoys or distractions. Another common ploy is using children as decoys. An adult might have a child cause some sort of distraction while a crime takes place. For example, a child might distract a store clerk while an adult quickly steals something.
Myths. There are certain stereotypical myths about the children who are taught to steal. The most common is that of gypsy children, who are notorious pickpockets. This is an unfair and largely inaccurate stereotype. Yes, there are some children who are trained to be pickpockets by their parents. "Gypsy" is usually a derogatory and offensive term used to lump large numbers of people together.
Tried as adults. It is highly unlikely that the two boys involved in the alleged theft would ever be prosecuted as adults. The main concern of the police, at this time, is to make sure that the three children are in a safe place and receiving proper care. The prosecution of the parents is a secondary priority.
Pawn shops on alert. Local pawn shops have been notified of the theft. They are aware of the items that have been stolen and are cooperating with police. This might make it difficult for the parents to sell the stolen items.
Suspects at large. The suspects are still at large. As of this date, they have yet to be identified. Arkansas State Police and the Rogers Police Department are working together to track the alleged thefts.