Debt fear over children's game
Young children have been running up gambling debts playing games of marbles in the street, with some resorting to stealing to pay them off, according to police.
Groups of up to 40 youngsters aged as young as five are playing the game, called "Pits", which involves flicking the marbles into an open water meter cover on the street surface.
Police in Plymouth, Devon, said parents have complained that some children are resorting to stealing cash, DVDs and computer games to pay off debts incurred by playing for money.
PCSO Dan Amador, of Devon and Cornwall Police, told the Plymouth Herald that youngsters in the North Prospect area of the city were playing a usually harmless children's game for hard cash, which could lead them into crime as they look for ways to pay off the debts.
"Historically this game would involve winning each other's marbles - but it has come to our attention more and more children are playing each other for money," he said.
"Over recent weeks we have been approached by parents telling us that their kids are asking for money to pay back debts owed to other children.
"I have also heard that money has been taken out of purses and things around the house have gone missing, like DVDs and PlayStation games."
Police and housing association staff are now going door-to-door in the area to talk to parents about the problem. Letters have also been sent to parents by the nearby school, the newspaper reported.