SASEBO NAVAL BASE, Japan — A sailor from the USS Essex remained in Japanese custody Monday after his arrest on suspicion of snatching a bag from a Sasebo woman.

Seaman Apprentice Kenneth S. Mumma Jr., 23, is accused of stealing the bag from a 52-year-old woman in Sasebo’s Kotencho district at 11:20 p.m. Saturday while she was making a call on a public telephone near a park, said a spokesman from the Nagasaki Prefecture Police in Sasebo.

The spokesman said the woman sustained minor injuries when she fell to the ground while chasing the alleged thief.

Charges had not yet been referred to the prosecutor’s office Monday morning, the police spokesman said. Mumma is to remain in Japanese custody until his trial, said base spokesman Charles T. Howard. The sailor, a machinist’s mate, was in “an unauthorized absentee status from the ship” when the crime took place, Howard said.

Police officers responded to a call from a woman who witnessed the incident and found Mumma walking on a nearby street about 40 minutes later, the police spokesman said. He was escorted to the police station, where he admitted to the theft, the spokesman said.

The bag, which contained a bank note, coin purse and handkerchief, was recovered at a nearby shrine after Mumma showed investigators where it could be found, police said.

The sailor was arrested at 6:35 a.m. Sunday. Police said he was under the influence of alcohol at the time of the incident.

“Ship and base officials will continue to fully cooperate with Japanese authorities in any way possible,” Howard said. “The sailor will be held fully accountable for his actions. Ship and shore commands at Fleet Activities Sasebo regret this unfortunate incident.”

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