7-year-old among kids trying to rob Hamilton shopping centre

Source: 1News

Four children, one as young as seven, have been caught attempting to steal from a Hamilton shopping centre overnight.

Police say they were alerted to the break-in at the Chartwell shopping centre after several alarms went off around 1am.

They arrived to find the four children, aged seven, 10, 11 and 12 years old, at the scene holding stolen toys and other goods.

"The 11-year-old ran off after seeing police, however staff chose not to follow him and stayed with the other three remaining youths," police said in a statement.

"In his attempt to flee the boy fell approximately eight metres to the ground injuring his arm.

"Police staff found him shortly after and provided immediate first aid and the boy was taken to hospital in an ambulance."

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A spokesperson for the shopping complex told 1News they were "shocked and saddened" by the burglary, particularly given the ages of the children involved.

The children have since been referred to Youth Aid Services and will be followed up by youth engagement teams, police said.

Hamilton City Area Commander Inspector Andrea McBeth spoke after the incident.

"This is a social and community issue and parents have a responsibility to know where their children are and to ensure they are safe," McBeth said.

"We need our communities to work alongside us and partner agencies to support and steer young people down a better path.

"We also encourage all members of the public to report suspicious activity immediately via 111, as this can help us to respond in a timely manner and hold all offenders to account."