Reporting Andrea Menniti
MANTECA (CBS13) – A 7-year-old was caught on camera sneaking into a store’s back room looking for purses and wallets – and police say the child’s mother put him up to it.
In fact, they say it happened at several stores.
Police say the mother and her sons hit up at least three Manteca stores, and it was her 7-year-old who went straight for employees’ purses and cell phones stashed away in back rooms.
Miner Mart owner Mike Morowit shared the security camera footage that shows a little boy enter the back room alone.
“Not realizing there’s a camera, he’s looking for anything out on the desk,” Morowit said.
Video shows the boy calmly searching for valuables while his mother talks to clerks.
“It just shows he’s been pretty well trained, obviously not scared,” Morowit said.
The youngster takes another look around before Manteca police officers discover the boy in the room for employees only.
“For someone to go out on his own, in a strange area well away from his family, is something I’ve never seen before,” Morowit said.
Officers were tracking the boy’s mother, Pearl Littlejohn. They spotted her car parked in front of the store and arrested Littlejohn and a pair of women accused of helping in the string of thefts.
Police say the 7-year-old-knew exactly what to do when his mother put him and his 12-year-old brother to work at a small boutique.
“We never thought it would happen here,” Ann Souza said. “He opened up a locker that had candy, cookies, soda, closed that, went right to my locker, went right into my purse, didn’t take my makeup bag, he took my wallet.”
It was what the 7-year-old left behind that tipped off employees
“We went to the back and there was a Slurpee by our lockers,” Souza said.
Employees confronted the mother and called police. She wasn’t caught until the boy was trying to steal from Miner Mart the next day.
“That little boy doesn’t stand a chance,” Souza said. “He doesn’t know right from wrong because she hasn’t taught him right from wrong.”
Police placed the boy with a dispatcher until they could transfer him to the children’s shelter. They say while at headquarters the little boy stole a phone from a dispatcher.