Japanese police hold three U.S. teens after Okinawa taxi robbery
April 22, 2005
CAMP FOSTER, Okinawa — Three American teens have been taken into Japanese police custody Tuesday, accused of robbing a cab driver in Nago on April 14.
According to an Okinawa police spokesman, the three took 3,000 yen (about $28) from the cabbie after a taking a wrong turn when trying to return home and running out of money for gas and tolls.
The teens were identified as an 18-year-old college student from Kadena Air Base and two 16-year-old high school students from Camp Foster, the police spokesman said. Police identified all three as servicemembers’ dependents.
The service branches of their parents were not immediately available.
According to a police report, the three, in a car driven by the college student, were attempting to drive back to Kadena after an evening on Camp Courtney.
But they took a wrong turn on a toll road and wound up going north to Nago.
“After driving an unexpected long distance and paying the toll, they realized that their gas was running low,” the police spokesman said.
“That’s when they decided to rob a taxi to get money to fill their tank.”
He said the trio approached a cab in the parking lot of the Kariyushi Beach Hotel at 11:05 p.m.
One of the 16-year-old boys struck the 57-year-old taxi driver on the head from behind “after threatening him with an electric drill,” the police spokesman said.
“Meanwhile, the 18-year-old high school student opened the passenger side door, grabbing about 3,000 yen loose change from the change-coin box.”
The spokesman said they sped from the scene in the college student’s car, but U.S. military authorities identified them after Okinawa police provided the car’s license number.
“They had been involved in some trouble at the Nago tollbooth involving payment of the toll and their license number was videotaped,” the police spokesman said.
The fingerprints of the teens were lifted from the taxi doors, he said.
According to the police report, the taxi driver was treated for minor injuries.
No formal charges had been filed with the Naha District Prosecutor’s Office as of Wednesday afternoon; the teens were being held at separate Okinawa prefectural police stations, the spokesman said.