Pennsylvania woman busted using her granddaughter as shoplifting accomplice

by Deanna Durante

Pennsylvania police have busted a grandmother who was using her four-year-old granddaughter to help her steal, and it was all caught on surveillance video.
Upper Darby Township police said they arrested and charged Monica Vitale, 42.

Police said Vitale was supposed to be baby-sitting her granddaughter Monday night while her daughter was working, but instead was instructing the four-year-old to steal.

Investigators said the quality of surveillance video from the Sears store where Vitale was arrested is amazing.

The video shows Vitale stuffing items into her purse and more.

"She actually hands the little girl the package, and the four-year-old puts it in the stroller, raises the hood of the stroller, and then grandmom covers it," said Upper Darby Police Superintendent Michael Chitwood.

Vitale has a history of shoplifting, and investigators said her granddaughter seemed familiar with her methods.

"Watch what she does with the hood of the stroller. The little girl does this -- pulls it up, hiding, covering up, and out they go," Chitwood said.

Investigators said Vitale and the child were inside the Sears store and stealing on Sunday, but store security opted to let Vitale go, because she had the little girl with her.

When the two returned Monday store security paid close attention, following her movements for about an hour.

They then stopped Vitale before she left the store and called police.

She was later charged with shoplifting, endangering a child, and failure to appear.

"Obviously, this is not the first time. Now, grandmom would admit to Sunday night, and grandmom will admit to last night because they got her. But, obviously, this is something that's been going on for a while," Chitwood said.

Investigators said that the total take from Monday's alleged robbery was about $400 worth of blankets and clothes in both girl and woman sizes.

Vitale was taken to Delaware County prison, where she was being held on $25,000 bail for failure to appear on a previous shoplifting charge.

Vitale's granddaughter is back at home with her mother, who told police that she had no idea what was going on with her mother and her daughter.