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Man forces teen with disability to steal from Detroit gas station

Video shows man directing teen to steal boxes of candy

DETROIT – A developmentally disabled teenager was forced against his will to steal from a Detroit gas station near I-96 and Schaefer, and police want everyone to see the video.

Police are asking for the public's help in identifying the older man seen directing the teen at a Sunoco station. They said there have already been two incidents.

The Sunoco gas station is part of Project Greenlight and surveillance cameras capture everything that happens there.

Video shows a boy, who police said is between 13 and 15 years old, getting out of a Jeep at the gas station with a man who appears to be in his 50s or 60s.

The two entered the gas station at the same time, and the man directed the boy to start stealing. Witnesses said the boy was terrified, putting his hands up and backing away.

The older man stayed to monitor him, then left.

The boy did as he was told, taking boxes of candy from the gas station. When he tried to leave, the doors were locked. Video shows the boy launching himself against the glass, and when that didn't work, he picked up a newspaper stand to try to smash his way out.

Video shows the boy getting scared and agitated until the clerk unlocked the door remotely. The boy left and climbed into the Jeep with the older man, who was telling him what to do.

"He's forcing him to commit these crimes, and this guy should be ashamed of himself," gas station owner Mohammad Rustam said.

Police said this is the second time in two weeks this has happened. The first time, the older man bullied the boy and tried to distract the clerk. Rustam said he was so worried about the child's welfare, he called Detroit police. He's offering a $500 reward for information.

Detectives have the video and are investigating leads.

"I talked to the detectives to please help this kid out," Rustam said. "I don't worry about these three or four boxes of candy. I'm worried about this kid."


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