A 31-year-old mother of four was arrested outside of a Texas outlet mall for shoplifting.
And according to local police, the mom, identified as Michelle Jones, used her four children to steal over $1,600 worth of merchandise, which included children’s clothing and shoes. KHOU 11 reports that she targeted multiple stores at Houston Premium Outlets, including the Gap, Carters, Express, and Osh Kosh.
According to KHOU 11, the mom used her children by handing them the merchandise to hide it in the stroller she had with her. She would then put some of her children in the stroller to conceal the stolen goods.
Jones was caught stealing the goods after a bystander who “saw something suspicious” and called authorities to notify them.
After investigators questioned Jones, she was found to be in possession of items with the tags still on them. Surveillance footage revealed that Jones hadn’t been paying for the items she was taking.
Harris County Precinct 4 Constable Mark Herman publicly reprimanded Jones for her behavior:
“To be doing this type of criminal activity and have her small kids with her is just something I haven’t seen in quite some time.”
“She did have some dialogue with the investigators but at some point, she basically just stopped cooperating. Of course, as far as the elements of the crime we have everything that we need for our case.”
Authorities did not say if Jones gave a reason as to why she chose to use her children to shoplift.
Following their mom’s arrest, the children, who ranged in ages between 3 and 8 years old, were handed over to Child Protective Services.
As Click2Houston reports, police eventually gave CPS permission to give temporary custody of the four children to a family member.
All of the stolen goods have been returned to the stories.
Jones was charged with theft and has since bonded out of jail. However, as Click2Houston reports, authorities say they believe Jones will be hit with more charges pending the conclusion of their investigation, as well as CPS’.
It’s unclear if Jones has been in contact with her children since leaving jail.