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Texas Marching Band Steals $22,000 Worth Of Goods In Tokyo

December 16, 1992 GMT

TOKYO (AP) _ Texas Southern University’s marching band turned a shopping trip into a shoplifting spree, stealing $22,000 worth of electronics before police retrieved most of the goods.

The president of the Houston university expressed his ″personal disgust″ and said the students who stole the goods had brought ″great dishonor″ to the school.

Japanese officials said Tuesday that the 126-member band was visiting Tokyo to play at the half-time show of a Dec. 6 NCAA football game between the University of Nebraska and Kansas State.

Kazuhiko Okada of the Manseibashi police station said that the day after the game the 126 band members were taken in buses on a shopping trip to Akihabara, an area famed for its electronics shops. Later in the day, they were to return to the United States.

When store employees saw some band members stealing products and chased them, the Americans returned to their buses, he said.

Police were unable to make arrests. Shopkeepers could not identify the thieves since the band members were wearing identical uniforms, Okada said.

But police told band members that unless the stolen products were returned, the buses would not be permitted to leave for the airport, he said.

One by one, about 100 products were passed to the back doors of the buses, Okada said. The returned products included pocket tape recorders, pocket televisions and video game software worth $18,500, he said.

However, about $3,500 of goods were not returned, according to Atsushi Fujita of Teleplanning International Co., which organized the football game.

Fujita said his company received money for the unreturned products from Texas Southern and presented it to the shopkeepers along with apologies.

In Houston, the university’s president, William H. Harris, said school officials ″the students involved have brought great dishonor to Texas Southern University.″

″I am here today to express my personal disgust for what happened in Japan and to deplore in the strongest possible terms such actions,″ he said in a statement.

University spokesman Chuck Smith added that the shoplifters were identified as a ″hard core″ of eight, along with no more than 20 other students. He said no decision had been made on punishing the students.

Although police have not announced the incident, a Japanese television station and newspaper reported it Tuesday.

″I have never heard of a case involving stealing by such a large number of people,″ said Okada.

Japan has a low shoplifting rate, with products frequently displayed on racks outside stores.