Four young children were allegedly left in a hot car last weekend for more than an hour while their mothers were inside a East Hanover, New Jersey, department store shoplifting, according to multiple news outlets.
Authorities discovered the kids — ages 11 months and 5, 6 and 7 years old — while questioning their mom, Arlena T. Keye and Shaday H. Williams, both 27, for allegedly shoplifting from a Marshalls on Saturday, according to the Morristown Daily Record.
The women stole $915 worth of goods from the store, authorities allege. They have each been charged with shoplifting, conspiracy to shoplift and cruelty and neglect of their children.
A security guard alerted the police that there were children left unattended in the parking lot, the Record reports.
The kids were in the vehicle for about an hour in 90-plus-degree heat, according to authorities, the Record reports. The vehicle’s windows were slightly rolled down but the engine was off, according to TV station WCBS.
Keye, of Easton, Pennsylvania, is the mother of three of the children while Williams, of Newark, New Jersey, is the mother of the fourth child, according to the Record.
Although the kids were unharmed, they appeared to be “visibly upset,” according to an arrest affidavit obtained by the Record.
It was unclear into whose custody they were released according to the Record, though radio station NJ101.5 and WCBS report that relatives took them.
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An investigation has reportedly been launched by the state’s Child Protection and Permanency agency.
Plea and attorney information for Keye and Williams was unavailable on Thursday. It’s unclear if they remain in police custody.
East Hanover authorities did not respond to a request for comment.
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