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BURY ST. EDMUNDS — The British Royal Military Police is investigating the theft in Afghanistan of personal effects of British troops recently deployed from this region.

The thefts occurred roughly a month ago when soldiers from the Royal Anglian Regiment were deployed to Helmand province in southern Afghanistan to replace a contingent of Royal Marines, according to a Ministry of Defense press office spokesman.

Ten soldiers filed complaints that their “comfort boxes” — which include personal items such as photos, music and DVDs and were sent to Afghanistan separately ahead of their deployment — had been tampered with and stolen from, according to spokesman Charlie Morton.

“This is an extremely unfortunate situation and one the MoD takes very seriously,” the spokesman wrote in a statement to Stars and Stripes.

The ministry will not reimburse soldiers for their pilfered goods.

“Military personnel are advised not to send expensive items in comfort boxes, as the MoD cannot accept liability for loss, damage or theft of them,” the statement said. “All troops are strongly advised prior to deployment to take out insurance for their personal possessions and personnel can claim a total of 83 pounds [about $165] to cover the cost of insuring those items.”

Thus far, the investigation has not resulted in any arrests or the retrieval of any goods. If the suspects are tracked down, the ministry said it will work with Afghan authorities to prosecute.

“We cannot arrest Afghans, but we will work with Afghan authorities to ensure potential suspects are apprehended,” Morton said.

At the headquarters of the 3rd Battalion of the Royal Anglian Regiment in Bury St. Edmunds, troops are taking the thefts in stride.

“We’re actually not making a big deal of it,” said retired Lt. Col. Peter Dixon, who serves as the regiment secretary. “We’ve had offers from local people to send more stuff over, but we’ve turned them down.”

Dixon acknowledged, however, that items such as family photos are a tough loss to swallow.

“Individual things like photographs can’t be replaced,” he said. “That is a shame.”

For now, however, the Royal Anglian Regiment has larger concerns — such as caring for the family of the first regiment soldier killed in the line of duty in Afghanistan over the April 13 weekend.


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