Hoping to catch up with some text messages after assisting a few customers, a Verulam shopkeeper was shocked to find his cellphone missing from the drawer he kept it in.
On reviewing security footage, the shopkeeper, Zubair Patel, was stunned to see that his phone was taken out from the drawer by a child.
In the footage, the child is seen entering the shop with two women. In another clip, the child is seen loitering by the counter while the adults he accompanied are being assisted by the shopkeeper and shop assistant. The video then cuts to the child going back around the counter, opening the drawer and removing the cellphone before stashing it in his pants. He then returns to one of the women and leaves.
Patel of Bold and Beautiful boutique, which deals with Indian traditional wear, recounted the incident which took place last week.
Patel said that it happened in the early afternoon, when two women and a young boy visited the store. One of the women wanted to see sarees while the other opted to see shoes. During this time, another customer came in and Patel assisted them, leaving the two women and the child in the care of a shop assistant.
Patel suspects that the two women and the child worked together as they did not purchase any items from the shop.
“She told me ‘let me go outside and get the money from my husband’ she didn’t take [buy] anything, but they took my phone,” said Patel.
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Patel further alleges that the women noticed him on his phone when they entered, and he put the phone in his drawer.
Verulam police said a case of theft was under investigation.
Speaking on children being used to commit similar crimes, Mala Pather of Verulam Child Welfare said: “The topic of petty thieving and children being used by adults is as old as time. The child welfares will intervene if these matters come to our attention as it is regarded as exploitation of children. Each case is different and will also depend on the age of the child.
“The child can be tried as a juvenile or if very young will not be charged but placed in supervised care of a responsible adults. Charges can be brought against the adult for the exploitation of the minor.”