IRVING, Texas - Investigators are trying to identify and find a couple that used an unsuspecting little girl to help them shoplift at stores across North Texas.
Police believe the couple used the little girl to shield what they were doing or hold and hand them things to steal, and police fear for the girl's safety.
What Jane Levinski saw on surveillance video at the Armstrong McCall Professional Beauty Supply Store was unsettling for many reasons.
"Children always look up to their parents, and they're going to do what they're parents do. So it's devastating," the Irving store manager said.
Surveillance video made it clear that a little girl was used in an organized shoplifting system orchestrated by a man and woman over the course of three visits.
The video shows the little girl handing products to the woman who stuffed them down the front of her pants. A man is also seen hiding a flatiron down his pants and waving the child over. He then used her body to shield the box he stole and walk out the door.
During another visit, the man showed a clerk pictures on his phone. He claimed he took his daughter to hand out water to police officers shortly after the ambush in July. Clerks now believe he was distracting them and using a cute little girl to get their attention.
"There's a potential there for these thieves to become spooked and either get into a car chase or flee or do something that would put her in danger," said Irving Police Officer James McLellan. "So obviously there's a duel concern there."
Irving police began investigating in July but hit a dead-end until recently. A loss prevention officer at another beauty supply store told an Irving detective the couple may be behind other thefts across North Texas since last fall.
"There were at least four other cities involving, possibly seven other stores that he knew of at the time," said McLellan.
The alleged crimes lead police to believe the couple may be local and that someone out there may help police find them and stop them.
"I just hope that they're caught for the little girl's sake. My heart goes out to her more than anything," said Levinski. "The parents - I don't know what they do to people like that, but they need help."
Anyone with information is urged to call the Irving Police Department.