Durban boy (8) groomed to steal
VIDEO footage of a young boy stealing a cellphone at a salon in Chatsworth while a woman, believed to be his mother, distracted the hairdresser, has gone viral on social media.
Recent CCTV footage from shopping malls and restaurants has revealed how parents are grooming their children to steal handbags, cellphones and other items from unsuspecting patrons.
In the latest video, the boy is seen walking into the salon with two middle-aged women. One of the women approaches the receptionist desk and appears to ask about a hair treatment.
The hairdresser, who was seated at the desk, walks to the front of the salon and chats to the woman. She leaves her cellphone on the desk.
The boy, who is believed to be about 8 years old, is seen lingering near the desk.
He can been seen trying to take the cellphone twice, but on both occasions the hairdresser looks at him.
On the third attempt, he quickly grabs the phone and puts it in his back pocket.
The boy is seen walking toward the women. Once the women notices him standing next to them, they quickly leave the store. Police said the matter had not been reported to them.
However, Mahendra Lillkan, chairperson of the Shallcross Community Forum, said he received a call from the owner of the salon informing him about the incident.
“We tracked the phone to Ghats Street in Shallcross. However, we could not find the boy. I shared the video hoping that someone would recognise the family so we could arrange help for them.”
He said that after the video was posted he received information that this family had targeted a few salons in Chatsworth with the same modus operandi.
“This boy is being groomed to be a criminal. It will only be a matter of time before he gets involved in other serious criminal activity. We want to stop this now before it’s too late for him.”
Chandre Gould, a researcher at the Institute for Security Studies, said this was not a new phenomenon but happened all the time globally.
“In these cases, social development plays an important role. One needs to look at the circumstances these children are coming from and whether or not their parents are fit enough to raise them.”
Gould said action needed to be taken against parents who groomed their children to become criminals.
Adeshini Naicker, Childline’s operations manager in KwaZulu Natal, said grooming children for crime was an act of abuse.
“The child is being exploited and any form of exploitation against children constitutes abuse. Sadly, these children have been groomed to see this behaviour as being acceptable and normal. Without intervention, they will most likely progress into adult thieves.”
Naicker explained children were often blackmailed into this kind of behaviour.
“A child of 6 or 7 years old is probably aware that it is wrong, but the early onset normalises the behaviour. It would be safe to say that any child exploited in this manner does not even have options.”
Naicker said parents are aware that a child cannot be charged for these crimes, and very often, parents deny any involvement or knowledge of the child’s acts with the hope that they will not be prosecuted.
Last week, a Facebook user uploaded CCTV footage of an incident from a restaurant in Tyger Valley where his wife’s handbag was stolen.
The video shows two families seated back-to-back at the restaurant. A child at one of the tables reaches behind his seat and pulls out a handbag, which he passes to the woman seated across from him. Then, seconds later, a fourth person joins them at the table. She picks up the handbag and leaves the restaurant, followed by the rest of the family.
In November in the Western Cape, footage from a mall showed a woman with three children hovering around the food court. The woman pretends to be on her cellphone while two of the children try to grab a woman’s handbag. After a few tries, a little girl is seen grabbing the handbag, which is on the floor, while the owner is completely unaware. The children and woman then quickly walk away.
LEFT: Images taken from CCTV footage shows the boy entering the salon with two women, one of whom is believed to be his mother. ABOVE: The boy steals the cellphone from the desk and puts it into his pocket. BELOW: He then joins the women at the front of the salon and they quickly leave.