Mum arrested after leaving son alone in Lego store

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A mum has been charged with child endangerment after leaving her son unattended in a store while she shopped elsewhere in the mall.

Jia Fan, 44 from New York, was arrested on Sunday and charged with leaving her 10-year-old alone in a Lego shop in Eastview Mall, Rochester, The Associated Press reports.

According to the Ontario County Sheriff's Office, the boy was left unsupervised for approximately two hours - and did not have a phone with him.

"The child did not know the whereabouts of [his mother] during that time period and had no way of contacting her," officers told local news WHAM. 

WHAM reports that a sign posted on the shop window reads: "To ensure that your children have a safe and enjoyable experience in our store, please do not leave them unattended. Children under the age of 12 must be accompanied by an adult."

Lego corporate spokeswoman, Amanda Madore, said store employees followed company policy regarding unaccompanied minors by contacting mall security.

Lt. David Cirencione of Ontario County Sheriff's Department, added that parents need to take responsibility for the safety of their children. "There are tens of thousands of people in and out of that mall and every mall on a weekly basis," he said. "We can't account for who's in there and parents need to do their part to protect their children too.

"When you're in the 10,11,12 age range, it's tough," he said, "because different children have different levels of comfort and maturity at those ages."

In this case, however, Cirencione believes the potential risk to the child was simply too high.

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It's not the first time a parent has been arrested for leaving their child unattended in a Lego store. In 2014, a mum was charged with endangering the welfare of a child after leaving her seven-year-old alone for 80 minutes in a Long Island mall, while she shopped nearby.

And in 2015, an eleven-year-old was "detained" at a Lego store in Calgary, Alberta, after shopping alone.

"My son, who rides his bike to school alone, goes regularly to stores to buy groceries, earns money for babysitting and yard work, and is passionate about Lego, is apparently not old enough to be at the Lego Store alone," the boy's father, Doug Dunlop, wrote in a blog post following the incident. "This policy is not posted, and they had to sneakily ask him his age to even know how old he was.  He has been going to the Lego store alone to spend his money since he was nine."

The Lego store's policy has proven divisive in the past, some parents supportive and others questioning its appropriateness.