KANSAS CITY, Mo. -- Police say they've arrested three juveniles in the last week believed to be part of a gang of thieves that's targeting restaurants from Waldo to Westport.
The so-called "scooter gang" also has been reported on the Country Club Plaza.
Police said some of the kids involved in the crimes are only 12 years old. And for as young as they are, police say they were shocked to see that some already have lengthy arrest records, including violent crimes that would have put an adult behind bars.
Victims have labeled these criminals the "scooter gang" because, during warmer weather, they've been seen getting away on motorized scooters.
Police tell FOX4 when they use a car, it's always stolen.
Investigators said the juveniles have been going into restaurants and other shops, on the Plaza, along 39th Street and in Waldo, where they try to blend in.
Because they're so young, between 12 and 14 in most cases, police say victims don't consider them suspicious.
"They’re bold," said Maj. Scott Caron, commander of the police property crimes division. "They walk in. They act like they belong there. Part of this is a confidence game. And for kids, I don’t think anybody perceives them as a threat because they are kids. They might think the kids are the people that work there. But they will walk into a business or a restaurant and they will take anybody’s cellphone that’s laying on the table. They’ll go through purses if they can and take anything that’s pocketable of value."
Police have been working with Plaza security and other businesses across town to take proactive measures to discourage the crimes of opportunity.
Detectives also said they know who they're after, and with three arrests in the last week, police now have five juveniles in custody in connection with the rash of related crimes.
Police said surveillance photos have been helpful for detectives to identify suspects. For those who are still at large, police have a warning: "We know who you are, and we know where you sleep."