Two women wanted on more than a dozen outstanding warrants used a four-year-old girl to help them shoplift items from Kmart in Assembly Square on Wednesday, Sept. 12, according to police.
Tarshesha Ross, 26, of 96 Heath St., and April Robinson, 26, of 150 Walnut St, Roxbury, allegedly walked into Kmart with two young children and stole 17 items, including kid’s jewelry, worth a total value of $61.
Police said Robinson and Ross handed stolen merchandise to Ross’ four-year-old daughter who would then hide it in a stroller carrying Robinson’s two year old child. The four-year-old girl was also seen taking items from store shelves herself and putting them in the stroller, police said.
Robinson, Ross and the two children did pay for some items, according to police, but were detained as they left the store by security guards who allegedly witnessed them stuff the stroller with stolen goods.
Somerville Police Captain Paul Upton said parents using their children to help them steal may not happen a lot in Somerville, but across the country the scheme is not rare. He said it is common enough that police are trained to detect such activities.
“It’s incredible what some people will do,” he said. “And it probably is not the first time [Robinson and Ross] have been involved in this type of activity.”
Robinson initially gave her name to police as Narre Swain-Price, police said. But within 15 minutes, Upton said a check with the FBI fingerprint database revealed her true identity and also indicated she had 12 outstanding warrants against her. In addition to shoplifting and providing a false name to police, Robinson was charged with having warrants for operating an unregistered motor vehicle, criminal harassment, making annoying telephone calls, witness intimidation, unlicensed operation of a motor vehicle, operating an uninsured motor vehicle, destruction of property over $250, larceny over $250, larceny under $250, using a motor vehicle without authority, threatening to commit a crime and assault and battery.
Ross was arrested and charged with shoplifting and having warrants for larceny by check over $250, larceny by check under $250 and larceny under $250. Family members picked up the two young children from the custody of police after officers made the decision to arrest Robinson and Ross. The two women were handcuffed out of sight from the children, police said.
Upton said police do not have the authority to arrest children under the age of 7. He said even older children who may be helping their parents steal may not be charged with a crime. “If the child is brought up in an environment where they learn it is okay to steal, they may not understand they have even broken the law. It is not always clear if a child is a willing participant or an additional victim,” he said.