GREENSBURG (KDKA) — Police say a local mother left her three children at the Westmoreland Mall.

But the mother told KDKA-TV it’s all a misunderstanding.

Melanie Wanner, 32, lives in Greensburg. At about 11 a.m. Tuesday, a neighbor dropped off her children, ages 5, 9 and 14, at the mall to shop.

More than 12 hours later, the children were spotted shivering outside the entrance to the food court. One of the children had on a coat. The others had on short-sleeved shirts.

“The mother had informed the kids she used their Christmas money to buy food,” State Police Cpl. John Tamewitz said. “Our troopers actually purchased them some food after they picked them up because they had not eaten all day long.”

Police say the 14-year-old tried to call her mother as well as the neighbor who dropped them off but got no answer.

The mother tells KDKA-TV her phone never rang. She also says she is unable to drive because the registration is expired on her car.

“The mall should not be used as a daycare,” Tamewitz said. “You should not be dropping your children off – [those] ages for that extended period of time and expect them to fend for themself. You have parental obligations and certainly that fails on all levels.”

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