Okinawa police looking for 3 foreign suspects
Stars and Stripes March 18, 2008
OKINAWA CITY — Okinawa police are looking for three foreigners who reportedly robbed a cab driver of 8,000 yen (about $80) Sunday just after midnight.
According to a spokesman for Okinawa prefectural police in Okinawa City, a 55-year-old cab driver reported he was attacked by three non-Japanese men at 12:20 a.m. Sunday in Okinawa City’s Chuo district, a popular entertainment district near Kadena Air Base’s Gate Two. The driver said the three men hailed his taxi on a street near Park Avenue, but instead of getting in, they said something in what the driver believed was English.
One word the driver understood was “trunk,” and he popped open the trunk of the car, according to the police report. When the three men continued to stand near the open trunk, the driver got out of the vehicle and walked toward them. The men spoke to him, but he told police he did not understand what they were saying and turned to get back in the car.
That’s when someone hit him from behind, knocking him to the ground, according to the police spokesman. The driver stood and ran away from his assailants. When he turned around, the men were gone, he told police. When he returned to his cab he discovered a coin box containing about 8,000 yen was also gone, according to police.
According to the police report, the men were each about 5 feet 6 inches to 5 feet 7 inches tall and one wore a white shirt. The driver sustained bruises on his wrists and knees when he fell, police said.
Police said they had a late start on searching for the three attackers because the driver was reluctant to cause more trouble for American servicemembers who have been associated with highly publicized crimes on Okinawa, resulting in a two-week restriction of all SOFA-status personnel to the their bases or off-base homes.
Servicemember are under a 10 p.m. to 5 a.m. curfew. The driver reported the alleged incident to police at 6:45 a.m. He told police he initially feared being involved in something that could turn into another high-profile episode, but the police spokesman said the cabbie changed his mind after co-workers persuaded him to report it. Okinawa police have requested the assistance of U.S. military police in the investigation.