Parents hiring their kids as their 'Partner in Crime'

Parents hiring their kids as their 'Partner in Crime'
-- Notice: The persons in the surveillance video have either served their sentence or have been proven innocent.

TRI-CITIES, Wash. -- Increasingly often, Moms and Dads are taking their kids to the store and encouraging their children to steal. It's happened several times in the last month alone. There's often a blurry line between kids being kids and a pre-meditated crime.

Tennille and Justin Johnson know that shopping with their twins is no easy errand.

Justin explains, "With these guys, it's about making it as quick as possible... Get in and out."

They understand that sometimes kids can grab things off the shelves without them noticing.

He continues, "Kinda gotta stay in the middle of the aisle so they're not grabbing stuff.. And paying attention to what's in their hands."

But recently, several parents have been caught in the act of using their child to shoplift. In Kennewick, it's happened at least three times in the past month.

Kennewick officer, Craig Hanson tells KEPR, "Actually uses the child in assistance to gather property for both or one of them. But they act together."

Telling kids to "run to Daddy" who is outside the store is one way parents are avoiding the law.. and if that wasn't bad enough, some are hiding things behind their kids in strollers like this.

Justin responds, "It's shocking to hear that."

He's an elementary teacher and knows the influence adults have on kids..

"Kids are constantly learning from everything we do. Good or bad," Justin says.

If caught the parents blame it on their kid 'acting up' or accidently grabbing something without them seeing. A child under eight years old are deemed incapable of committing a crime, according to the law.

Hanson says, "Use the child to do the shoplift so the parent doesn't get caught."

Whether you side with police or parenthood, it's a problem that is hard for police to spot. Even if you aren't being malicious, it's still important to be careful shopping with your child. No matter what the age, a parent could be held accountable for failing to watch their kid.