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Travel tip: pay for all souvenirs

UNHAPPY MEMORIES:At least 17 cases of shoplifting by Taiwanese at Tokyo Disneyland have been reported in the past two years, leading to court time

By Jake Chung  /  Staff writer

The Taipei Economic and Cultural Representative Office in Japan is appealing to Taiwanese shoplifters to curb their wandering hands on visits to Tokyo Disneyland for the sake of Taiwan’s reputation and their own.

From May 2013 to this past June, the Japanese government has reported at least 17 thefts committed by Taiwanese at the theme park, the office said.

The Chinese-language United Daily News on Thursday quoted office officials as saying that last year they received nine reports of Taiwanese tourists being arrested for shoplifting after visiting the theme park’s souvenir shops.

The majority of suspects over the past two years were women aged 20 to 40.

While the Tourism Bureau has said that half of the incidents were “unintended,” office staffers said the park’s souvenir shops do not have scanners and rely on employees patrolling the stores to ward off thefts, the newspaper reported.

People leaving the stores with unpurchased items are closely watched and the police notified if they move a certain distance away, the report said.

According to the newspaper, the representative office is often approached by relatives of the suspects for help in resolving the situation, and its staff often find themselves having to act as counselors as well because some of the young suspects have suffered emotional breakdowns after being arrested.

The majority of offenders are young and susceptible to kleptomanic urges, and most turn to family and relatives after being detained, the paper cited the officials as saying.

The relatives, in turn, contact the Ministry of Foreign Affairs seeking assistance.

Tokyo Disneyland has its own standard operating procedures regarding shoplifters, and after park police detain a suspected shoplifter, Japanese police are usually contacted, the representative office said.

Suspects are usually held for 12 days to two weeks, it added.

The officials said there was a case where one Taiwanese female tourist, having bought ¥300,000 (US$2,483) worth of souvenirs, was detained for allegedly trying to shoplift another item worth ¥10,000.

The representative office can only facilitate negotiations with Japanese authorities, but cannot interfere in judicial procedures, the newspaper said, adding that unlike private stores, Tokyo Disneyland does not settle shoplifting cases out of court.

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