Deputies: Two sisters left kids alone at Eastview Mall store for 2 hours
Victor, N.Y. - Two women, who are sisters, were ticketed for leaving their two young children at the Lego store in Eastview Mall unattended for two hours.
A similar incident allegedly happened at the same store earlier this month.
Ontario County Sheriff's deputies said Yaquelina Rosario De Hernandez, 54, and Francisca Lopez, 48, left their 7-year-old and 9-year-old in the store Sunday.
The women then allegedly went shopping for several hours, leaving the kids with no way of contacting them, according to deputies.
"These children had no idea where their parents were in the mall and had no way to contact them," said Sgt. Kelly Fogarty. "The parents were paged overhead multiple times over the course of 45 minutes, to my understanding, with no response."
"As a trusted toy brand, our primary concern is for children's safety and as such we have a policy regarding unaccompanied minors in all of our stores," said Amanda Madore, Senior Manager of Brand Relations for Lego. "As these customers were under the age of 12 and unaccompanied, our store staff followed our guidelines and alerted mall security."
Deputies say the two women eventually returned to pick up the kids.
De Hernandez, who lives in the Dominican Republic, and Lopez, of Henrietta, were arrested and charged with endangering the welfare of a child. Both were issued appearance tickets for Victor Town Court.
Earlier this month, 44-year-old Pittsford mother Jia Fan was charged for leaving her 10-year-old boy at the Lego store for two hours. Her attorney has argued she did nothing wrong and her son knew he was in a safe place.
The arrests sparked a debate on social media.
Kristen Ray is a mother of four. Her oldest is nine years old.
"I've never considered it with him, but I can understand why somebody might," said Ray.
For her, the biggest issue is that the kids were at a business.
"There are ways to have your child watched without leaving them with an employee or a store that isn't even aware the child is there," said Ray.
Others said the charges are simply a sign of the times.
"We didn't have some of the same fears," said Betsy Slavinskas, who raised two children. "Did I ever leave them in a store? No. Did they ever go to the mall by themselves at 12 or 13 years old? Yes."
Deputies said Monday these arrests are simply about doing what they can to make sure kids are safe.
"Eastview Mall is a safe place, but that being said, it's a public place and anyone can walk in here," said Sgt. Fogarty. "It's a different world with social media and we have a whole new slew of dangers to our children that we didn't have when we were kids."
De Hernandez and Lopez did not respond to 13 WHAM's request for comment. The sisters are currently scheduled to be back in court Thursday.