SINGAPORE - With their cherubic smiles and wide innocent eyes, the seven-year-olds walked around the toy store clutching plastic bags.
But these are the "customers" the shop is wary of.
Because they may be there to steal.
Over the years the store has caught several of them for shoplifting.
Shoplifting is a bane for retailers, even more so during this holiday period.
Even though the numbers have declined, it is still a serious issue for businesses.
Mr Davy Chan, 66, who has been a security consultant at a toy store here for 20 years, said the youngest shoplifters caught by employees were only seven years old.
The former policeman and Police Gallantry Medal winner told The New Paper on Thursday: "Some of these children even were there with the store's plastic bags acquired from previous purchases.
"They would place the items they wanted in the bags and try to walk out. But the staff are trained to look out for shoplifters and they are often caught."
Mr Chan added that the latest incident involving a seven-year-old occurred only about two months ago, when a boy was caught trying to steal a figurine.
He said the boy's parents had dropped him off at the store and left.
"Some parents treat the place like a childcare centre," said Mr Chan.
Mr Chan said employees checked the boy's bag as he was about to leave and found the toy which had not been paid for.
They phoned the boy's parents, who turned up to pay for the toy before leaving the store.
Security experts TNP spoke to said that now is the time when thefts often take place in stores. (See other report.)
Despite this, Mr Chan said the number of shoplifting cases at his store has gone down in the last 10 years. He used to see about four or five cases a month. Now, he encounters one case every two months or so. He attributes this to the vigilance of his staff and the training they have had to spot shoplifters.