Jobless Taiwan man steals just for free prison lunch

Tue Jun 16, 2009 1:04am EDT
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TAIPEI (Reuters) - A jobless Taiwan man released from prison stole a box of cotton swabs just to get arrested again because he "could not forget the police department boxed lunches," officers and local media said on Tuesday.

The homeless man in Taipei first stole a pair of shoes on Sunday, was detained and released, the Liberty Times said. He then resorted to stealing again the next day just to get back inside and be fed for free.

"If someone's not doing well and comes in around meal time, we'll definitely prepare food," said an officer, surnamed Wang, at the Hsinyi District police station, which handled the case but again released the suspect, Tsou Hao-lan.

In another sign of the times on the recession-hit island, a man who had been without a job for four months stole a motor scooter and drove it to a Taipei-area police station, the paper said.

Taiwan is in recession and economists see more weakness through most of 2009, given falling demand for Taiwan's electronics goods overseas.

(Reporting by Ralph Jennings; Editing by Nick Macfie and Sugita Katyal)