Two parents face several charges after burglarizing a Factory 2 U store in Imperial Beach on July 8. The most severe charge, according to police, involves their 1-year-old infant.
The father, 25, and mother, 19, were seen removing store tags from merchandise and concealing the items in their bags or on their persons. They allegedly stole clothing, toiletries, and bathroom decorations worth less than $100 before driving away in an SUV. The store had no loss-prevention officers, and employees are generally instructed not to confront suspected thieves, according to Sgt. Jerry Hartman of the Imperial Beach sheriff's station.
A deputy located the vehicle and attempted to stop it, but the suspect failed to stop at several intersections. When the suspect finally yielded at Cypress, west of 13th Street, the deputy discovered the child sitting on the mother's lap in the passenger seat, unrestrained. Her door had also been open since the 500 block of 11th Street. The vehicle had no car seat for the child.
Hartman said it appeared the couple was in the process of moving, as the vehicle was full of furniture and personal items, along with the Factory 2 U merchandise. The male suspect was wearing the shorts he had just taken from the store.
After authorities arrested the parents, the child was turned over to a grandparent. According to Hartman, authorities will generally release a child to an immediate family member nearby, if they are willing and able to care for the child. The suspects were booked and their bail set at $100,000 each. The father is charged with child cruelty, evading police, and burglary. The mother is charged with child cruelty and burglary.