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Teen boy, girl held in shoplifting case

Date Posted: 2008-04-25

A pair of military dependents are in Okinawa City Police custody, charged with shoplifting from a Kitamae supermarket in Chatan Town.

It was the second shoplifting incident in two consecutive weekends involving American Marine dependent teens, but Okinawa City Police say there was no interference this time by U.S. Military Police. The two18-year-olds were arrested hours after they were observed putting something in a bag at the supermarket, then leaving without paying.

The youngsters had disappeared by time police arrived, but store officials and police used videotape images from surveillance cameras to identify the pair and get their vehicle license number. Police say the two were observed stealing a body piercing kit about 5:50 p.m. Saturday by a store clerk, who notified security officials, who called Okinawa City Police. The kit was valued at •2,520.

Police patrolled the area, and spotted the car about four hours later at another supermarket nearby. They apprehended the two, along with five other youth, when they returned to the car. The girl, a high school student, and the unemployed boy, confessed when confronted. They told police the five other friends were not involved, and police released them.

The investigation is continuing, because police say there were many other stolen items, including T-shirts and shoes, in the car. There were no American MPís responding to Saturdayís apprehension.

Okinawa City Police, meanwhile, continue to insist American Military Police acted wrongfully the previous weekend, when another pair of shoplifting teens were caught at the scene and taken into U.S. custody by MPís who refused to cooperate with local police. A police spokesman disputes the Marine Corps provost marshalís claim there was full cooperation, saying ďwe repeatedly asked both to talk to the two boys at the scene, and asked they be handed over to us.Ē

In the earlier shoplifting case, two boys ages 16 and 17 had shoplifted from a Mihama store, stealing T-shirts and jeans.

The MPís, according to police and eyewitnesses, denied Japanese Police a chance to question the two, then took them to a U.S. base, where they were released. The boys have since been questioned by Okinawa City Police. The military has provided police an explanation for the MPís actions, but neither the military or Okinawa City Police will reveal details.

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