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(LEAD) 2 U.S. soldiers taken into custody for alleged theft

Defense 13:11 November 10, 2018

(ATTN: UPDATES with details; ADDS background)

SEOUL, Nov. 10 (Yonhap) -- Two U.S. soldiers have been taken into custody for allegedly stealing a jacket worth about 60,000 won (US$53) from a store in southwestern South Korea, a police officer said Saturday.

A 26-year-old is suspected of stealing the jacket off a mannequin in the country's southwestern city of Gwangju around 10:06 p.m. Friday, the officer said.

The man fled the scene after the theft, but about 30 minutes later he was walking through the store when a row erupted with the store owner over the clothing. The soldier threw down the jacket and fled again.

The suspect walked back near the same store about 38 minutes later again and was arrested by police at the scene, along with a 23-year-old soldier whose participation in the crime remains unclear.

The officer said the two soldiers came from the U.S. air base in Osan, about 55 kilometers south of Seoul, but he did not identify their names and ranks.

U.S. officials are set to appear at the police station in Gwangju at 4 p.m., according to the officer.

"We plan to hand them over to the U.S. military later in the day after completing our investigation," the officer said by phone from Gwangju, about 330 kilometers of Seoul. He asked not to be named, citing policy.

The officer said police will refer the case to prosecutors.

About 28,500 American troops are stationed in South Korea as a legacy of the 1950-53 Korean War, which ended in an armistice, not a peace treaty.


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