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OKINAWA CITY — Charges of car theft against two Camp Hansen Marines were referred by Okinawa police Wednesday to the Naha Public Prosecutor’s Office.

A spokesman for the Okinawa Prefectural Police in Okinawa City said the lance corporal and private first class, both 20, are suspected of stealing a car earlier this month in the town of Kin near Camp Hansen’s main gate.

Their names were not released because they are in U.S. military custody and have not been charged formally, the spokesman said. Okinawa police have said they believe the two Marines were with a 19-year-old Marine private who has been in Okinawa police custody since he was stopped while driving the stolen car.

Police allege the trio stole a compact car parked near a bar in Kin after stealing a woman’s purse. The 21-year-old woman told police she saw the three take her purse just after midnight and chased them out of the bar. The purse contained her car keys.

About 30 minutes after the car theft was reported, the 19-year-old Marine was spotted in the car alone near Kadena Air Base’s Gate 2. He was asked to come to the Okinawa City police station, where he was questioned and subsequently arrested at 4:30 a.m.

The police spokesman said the other two Marines were identified later that day and questioned by military police. They admitted taking the car, he said.

They allegedly told investigators they took turns driving to the air base. While the 19-year-old Marine waited in the car, they said, they went to an ATM near the gate to withdraw cash but fled when saw their friend being questioned by police.

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