Video shows child accomplices in grand theft

PARAMOUNT, Calif. It looks like a mother out shopping with her children. But what happens as this security video goes on is a shocker, even to the lead investigator.

Without a trace of fear, two little boys wander casually behind the counter. Then their tiny hands reach into the cash drawer. Over and over again, they grab the big bills. Then the mother's voice is heard instructing them what to do.

"After the children have the money in their hand you can hear on the audio portion of the video that she's telling them to hide it," said L.A. County Sheriff's Sgt. Dennis Clark.

Clark points out what he suspects is a ring of thieves. In one scene a boy has a clothing item in hand. He confers with his mother. Then he heads to the front door. He's not leaving though, he's merely passing the sensor that detects merchandise tagged with an anti-theft device. He is testing it. Then he runs back with the item and drops it so that it can be retrieved later.

A man wearing a red shirt in the video looks like he is communicating something about an item the boy is holding.

"At one point one of the children holds up a white shirt to the male figure and it appears as if he's asking him, 'Is this the one you are looking for?' or 'Is this one OK?'," said Clark.

Another male adult suspect shows up in the video. He enters the store after the children leave to retrieve the purse the mother left behind.

The store owner tells deputies that the mother appears to be Eastern European. The speed and ease in which they all work together tells Clark they are professionals.

"It's either been done several times before, or they've practiced it in the past," said Clark.

The adults face multiple charges.

"The parents face significant felony charges, as well as some endangerment charges that we'll look at," said Clark.

If you have information related to this case, you are asked to call the Lakewood L.A. County Sheriff's Dept. at (562) 623-3500.

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