Mother accused of using children to help shoplift from Houston Premium Outlets

By Andy Cerota - Anchor/Reporter, Cory McCord - Digital News Editor

HARRIS COUNTY, Texas - A 31-year-old woman is facing a theft charge after authorities said she had her children conceal merchandise as she went on a shoplifting spree at the Houston Premium Outlets last week.

On Thursday, deputies said Michelle Lashae Jones stole more than $1,600 worth of merchandise from Gap, Carters, Express and Osh Kosh stores.

Authorities said Jones was giving the merchandise to her four juvenile children, ranging in age from 3 to 8 years old and having them conceal the items in a stroller.

"To be doing this type of criminal activity and having her small kids with her is just something I haven't seen in quite some time," Precinct 4 Constable Mark Herman said. 

Jones got caught after a witness saw something suspicious and called it into Precinct 4. When investigators questioned Jones upon arrival, they say they started finding merchandise with the tags still on them. They say they determined the items hadn't been paid for after they went back to some of the stores and looked at surveillance video. 

"She did have some dialogue with the investigators and at some point she stopped cooperating. Of course, as far as the elements of the crime, we have everything that we need for our case," Herman said. 

Children's Protective Services let deputies release the kids to a family member. 

All of the stolen merchandise was recovered and returned to the businesses, authorities said.

Jones was arrested and booked into the Harris County Jail. Her bond was set at $100. She has since posted bond. The investigation is ongoing. More charges are expected to be filed in this case, according to Precinct 4. 

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