Police are investigating a series of thefts in which two women apparently used a young girl to steal wallets and purses from shoppers in Queens stores last week.
Authorities say the child walked behind the counter at a clothing boutique on Bell Boulevard in Bayside on Wednesday and took a wallet from someone's bag.
Police say the girl was seen giving the stolen wallet to one of the two women she was with. The group then left.
The owner of the store said she watched it all play out on surveillance video.
"It's very shocking because I have three kids of my own," said Margaret Papacotas. "I can't imagine any child being taught to steal, and I'm sure that's not the first instance."
An hour and a half later, police say the same child stole two purses from customers at a thrift shop on Corporal Kennedy Street while clerks were helping other patrons.
The store, Worthy Pause, donates all its profits to help animals in need. A worker at the shop said Tuesday it was "child abuse" for the women to coax the girl to steal.
Anyone with information about the thefts is asked to contact Crime Stoppers at 1-888-577-TIPS.