NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) — Two women had a young child do their dirty work as they swiped cash and other items from at least three Queens businesses last week, police said.

As CBS 2’s Dave Carlin reported, the thieves allegedly stole a wallet from an employee’s purse behind the counter of Karma Boutique on Bell Boulevard in Bayside last Wednesday.

One of the women distracted the store clerk while surveillance video shows the other woman directed the little girl, who appears to be about 4 years old, to grab the wallet and bring it to her.

The wallet was in a bag located behind the cash register, police said.

“Honestly, it’s insane,” said Margaret Papacostas, the store’s owner.

“The mother opened up the wallet, saw apparently that there was money inside, turned around and put it inside her pocket and walked out of the store,” Papacostas said.

Police believe the same trio stole from two volunteer salespeople at The Worthy Pause thrift store the same day. The store raises money for pet charities.

One worker was up on a ladder helping one of the suspects, who was posing as a shopper, while another employee was in the back of the store with the other woman. Police believe, at that time, the little girl was stealing a purse and fanny pack, getting $80 in cash, a driver’s license and credit cards.

The thirft shop does not have a security camera system, but the victims were able to describe the two women and child to a T.

Employees at the nearby Empress Travel agency also believe they were targeted by the trio. A cash box was missing after two women matching the descriptions of the suspects in the other cases brought the girl to the business, asking if the child could use the restroom.

The victims said they were more concerned about the girl’s welfare than anything else.

“It’s really child abuse. It’s really what it is, which leads to adult trauma, unfortunately,” said Rose Meehan, who works at The Worthy Pause.

“I’m shocked. I have three kids of my own,” Papacostas said. “I can’t even imagine in life teaching a child to steal, from that young.”

Police are asking anyone with information about the thefts to call Crime Stoppers at 800-577-8477 or to submit a tip online at All communications are kept confidential.

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