The late U.S. District Judge Leon R. Yankwich once said: "There are no illegitimate children - only illegitimate parents."
Unfortunately, in Upper Darby, the quote apparently has rung true - again. Yesterday, a little less than a year after a woman was convicted of using her granddaughter to help her shoplift, a mother was charged with using her two daughters as a "ruse" to steal from unsuspecting shoppers.
With her 7-month-old in a carrier and her 8-year-old trailing at her feet, Kelly Ann McCaw, 29, stole pocketbooks from the shopping carts of unsuspecting women at Delaware County grocery and department stores, Upper Darby Police Superintendent Michael Chitwood said.
Sometimes she'd claim to have a bad back and ask the women to bend down and grab her a bottom-shelf item to turn their attention away from their carts, police said. Other times, she'd allegedly target those who already weren't paying attention.
Beginning last month and ending Wednesday, McCaw struck at least five times - at two Acme supermarkets in Upper Darby, twice at a Kohl's department store in Havertown and once at a Superfresh store, also in Havertown, police said.
Each time, she took her kids with her and the final time she hid her 80-year-old victim's stolen purse under the same blanket that was covering her baby, according to court documents.
Police said she admitted to the five thefts, in which she would typically take credit cards and cash and leave the stolen purses behind in restroom trash cans.
"It's a tragedy twofold," Chitwood said. "She's a crack addict and it's a sad commentary, using kids as a ruse.
"She puts them in harm's way to feed her addiction."
Not only is she a "totally whacked out" addict, but McCaw was also illegally squatting with her kids and her boyfriend, the father of the baby, in an Upper Darby apartment, Chitwood said.
A vigilant Acme employee was able to get the license-plate number of McCaw's Ford Windstar, which led police to her parent's Havertown home. An Upper Darby officer, who recognized McCaw's photograph from responding to domestic calls to her residence, was able to track her down.
She was arraigned yesterday in Upper Darby on two charges each of theft and of receiving stolen property and was remanded to the Delaware County Prison in lieu of $40,000 bail.