Police say the value of the merchandise allegedly stolen by two children is approximately $800. (CBC News)

A Windsor man has been charged with forcing children to shoplift by threatening to kill them.

Police said the man told the two children, aged 12 and 14, that if they didn't do as he said they would never see their mom again and that he would kill them.

"It's a terrible, terrible incident. It's very sad," said Windsor police spokesperson Sgt. Matt D'asti.

Police learned of the alleged crime from the mother of the children.

The woman told Windsor police officers that two of her children had been forced by a relative to steal from retail stores on Howard Avenue and Walker Road.

The mother told police she left the two children with an uncle who said he would take them out for supper.

Instead, he allegedly took them to stores and forced them to shoplift.

D'asti said the children were forced to steal knives, blankets and pillows before they realized something was wrong.

"The children began questioning him," said D'asti. "And he just said 'You do what I say' and then he made threats to them. At one point, he threatened he would kill them if they did not listen. He also indicated that they would never see their mother again if they did not listen to what he was telling them."

Police said the value of the merchandise stolen was about $800.

"The true victims in all of this are these children," D'asti said. "That's why we want to ensure they're safe. And we want to ensure that they know they've done the proper things."

A 23-year-old man has been charged with theft, possession of stolen property, two counts of extortion and three counts of uttering death threats.