Chuck E. Thieves

Friday, February 19, 2010 - 12:46pm

Security cams show woman using children to steal purse...

Indianapolois -- Indianapolis Metro Police are searching for a woman who they say used a child to commit a crime.

The incident was caught on camera in the middle of a busy Chuck E. Cheese restaurant on Valentine's Day.

"It's pretty disturbing to see that happen, especially how she actually points out where the purse is," said IMPD Lt. Jeff Duhamell.

In the video, a girl who police think is about five years old took Mandie Harrington's purse, apparently at the instruction of a woman wearing red clothing.

Harrington was celebrating her son's seventh birthday when she noticed her purse missing and told the restaurant manager.

"It was supposed to be fun, yeah," Harrington said. "I think I was away from the table for only a couple of seconds."

The manager looked at their surveillance system right away.

The video shows the woman in red has two girls with her.

She appears to show the older child where to grab the purse from a booth.

Once stolen, the girl delivers it to a man at another table.

Surveillance shows the woman hide the purse under a coat and leave the restaurant.

The girls then go to play, just feet away from Harrington, as she discovers the theft.

"It's disgusting that somebody would teach a little girl to steal like that," Harrington said. "It just really makes me angry."

Because the theft was so fast, and the operation so smooth, police believe this may not have been the first time the woman used a child to commit a crime.

"I think it's probably happened before," Duhamell said. "We need to find out who they are. It's very disturbing to have the mom, basically orchestrate this theft, using her children."

In fact, investigators believe there are two victims here: Mandie Harrington and the child.

"I hope that somebody takes care of that little girl the most, I guess really both little girls, and then I want my stuff back. But I hope they take care of that little girl more than anything," Harrington said.

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