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Woman abandoned kids at Kmart after shoplifting, police allege

Police arrested a woman after she abandoned two 9-year-old girls at a Kmart store in Costa Mesa, authorities said Wednesday.

The store's security officers recognized Theresa Maris, 32, of Buena Park from a previous alleged theft when she entered the store at 2200 Harbor Blvd. with two 9-year-old stepsisters and a 4-year-old girl at about 4:50 p.m. Monday, Costa Mesa police said.

Security officers saw Maris put an item in her handbag and then try to return it, police said.

When asked for identification, she headed for the exit. When security tried to detain her, she took the 4-year-old and quickly got into a waiting black Honda, according to police.

She was heard saying, "Go, go, go!" to the driver, leaving the two older girls in the store, police said.

Several minutes later, the driver, identified by police as a friend of Maris' -- Shawn Gormley, 40, of Lawndale -- entered the store searching for the children.

His car was found less than half a mile away.

Gormley and Maris were arrested on suspicion of burglary and child endangerment.

All three children were released to a family member.

It was unclear whether Gormley and Maris were the children's parents.


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— Lauren Williams, Times Community News

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L.A. Now is the Los Angeles Times’ breaking news section for Southern California. It is produced by more than 80 reporters and editors in The Times’ Metro section, reporting from the paper’s downtown Los Angeles headquarters as well as bureaus in Costa Mesa, Long Beach, San Diego, San Francisco, Sacramento, Riverside, Ventura and West Los Angeles.
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