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Woman uses toddler to steal groceries from New Orleans store

It was Monday night a week ago around 7:30, when a woman leaves the Oak Park Save A Lot grocery store carrying $300 worth of meat without checking out and paying.

NEW ORLEANS — Police are looking for a women who they say stole hundreds of dollars of food from a local grocery store.

And what makes this case especially alarming, is she has a very young child stealing alongside of her.

And it was all recorded by the store's surveillance cameras. 

It all happened at the Save A Lot grocery in the Oak Park shopping center on Paris Avenue and Mirabeau in Gentilly.

And police say the woman in the video could be charged with theft.

It was Monday night a week ago around 7:30, when a woman leaves the Oak Park Save A Lot grocery store carrying $300 worth of meat without checking out and paying. Following behind her is a little girl. Police say she is the age of a toddler. She is carrying stolen food as well. An LSU Health clinical child psychologist reacts to the video. 

She says the little girl is in the formative stage of her life, with moral development, learning right and wrong, how to behave in society, with social development and understanding of how to trust adults. 

“Certainly we know that the first five years of life are when a lot of those concepts really get formed, to understand how to behave how to respond to your emotions,” explained Dr. Michelle Moore, in the Department of Psychiatry at LSUHSC. 

Next, a store employee comes up to the child. He did not want to talk to Eyewitness News, but Dr. Moore says it appears he did everything right. He is calm, and gentle, and takes the stolen food. Meanwhile, the woman leaves the store and the child behind. 

“This poor child looks so confused, not knowing what to do. Their parent has left. They have a stranger that's talking to them. They're not sure what they're supposed to be doing, and then they feel abandoned,” she added. 

After that interaction, the little girl runs out and joins the woman and police say they got away in a in a black Mercedes-Benz E-Class SUV.  We don't know what the motive is at this time. There are headlines around the country of meat theft since it costs so much now. In those cases, it is immediately sold to independently owned markets, bars and restaurants. Or is the theft because a family can't afford to feed it's children? No matter what the motive, when adults see this video of a child being taught to steal, they react with sadness and despair.

“Because children still have innocence, right? Children still have this hope for our future.”

“If you know who this is in the video, NOPD wants you to call the Third District or call Crimestoppers at 504-822-1111. There is a reward and you don't have to leave your name.

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