The mother and stepfather of a 10-year-old Utah boy are accused of trying to make him steal items from a Home Depot.
The pair claimed they wanted to sell the items for cash to buy school supplies, police in Cottonwood Heights told Salt Lake City TV station KUTV.
"A 10-year-old selected a cart full of merchandise, and then the 10-year-old would roll the cart out of the store while the parents split up," police Sgt. Gary Young said. "If he got stopped, the 10-year-old just told the store, 'Hey, my parents are paying for this.'"
The boy's mother was near a register, pretending she was about to pay at around 4 p.m. Wednesday, police said, as the boy loaded the cart with boxes of roofing nails and a flashlight.
But the family's actions soon caught the suspicion of loss prevention staff, who questioned the boy and then his mother.
She claimed her husband was paying for the items, Young said. But Home Depot employees then realized the stepfather wasn't in the building, and called police.
Police aren't sure if the family's reason for stealing was legitimate or concocted.
"I feel bad for this family in that circumstance, but I also feel worse that the kid was used in a theft," Young told KUTV.
Police arrested the parents, but did not book them into jail to avoid further traumatizing their children.