NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) — Two women were arrested and charged Monday, in connection with a string of thefts in Queens in which they allegedly used a small child to steal wallets and other items.

Tisha Strong, 41, of Brooklyn, and Shannie Eastman, 39, of Queens, were both charged with grand larceny, petit larceny, and failure to exercise control of a minor.

The thieves allegedly stole a wallet from an employee’s purse behind the counter of Karma Boutique, at 38-27 Bell Blvd. in Bayside, Queens on Wednesday, May 7.

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.

“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,” boutique owner Margaret Papacostas said.

Police later connected the suspects with two other incidents. Also on May 7, police alleged the women entered The Worthy Pause thrift store, at 40-08 Kennedy St. in Queens, with a small child and took a purse and a fanny pack containing $170 and multiple credit cards.

The Worthy Pause store raises money for pet charities.

Police also linked the suspects with an April 10 theft at the Empress Travel Agency, at 39-22 Bell Blvd. in Queens. In that incident, a small child took $900 from a cash box located in a back room near a bathroom the suspects asked to use, police said.

The victims said last week 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.”

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