Officials from the Wayne Township Police Department have reported a significant increase in shoplifting incidents involving women who are committing these offenses in the company of their young children. Now, police say they are initiating a new policy which will entail the notification of state agencies such as child protective services. Ultimately, this means that mothers accused of shoplifting may not only be subject to criminal charges, but may run the risk of losing custody of their children as a result of these crimes.
According to Detective Captain Laurence Martin of the Wayne Police Department, this new policy comes on the heels of two distinct cases that occurred at the J.C. Penney store at the Wayne Towne Center shopping plaza just last week. Each of these incidents reportedly resulted in the theft of merchandise valued at over $1,000.
The most recent case involved 26-year-old Paterson resident Joaly Pena, who was arrested with her young daughter after allegedly shoplifting items totaling over $1,200 at the J.C. Penney store. Police say the complaint against Pena will now be forwarded to the Division of Youth and Family Services, the state agency now known as Child Protection and Permanency.
Child Protection and Permanency has the authority to remove children from the custody of negligent parents, placing them in foster care temporarily, or removing them permanently from their parents’ care.
Clearly, the stakes have been raised for those accused of shoplifting in New Jersey. These penalties can already result in prison sentences, significant fines, and even immigration consequences for those who do not have permanent U.S. resident status, as these offenses are considered crimes of moral turpitude. Now, defendants charged with shoplifting are exposed to yet another consequence, namely, the loss of their children, if the children are present at the time of the arrest.
For additional information regarding this matter, access the following article: Wayne police respond to trend of women shoplifting with children in tow