A new Honda Civic Type R was stolen from a Japanese dealership and later crashed, allegedly by a member of the US military.
As reported by Creative Trend, the car was stolen from a dealership known as West Auto in Iwakuni, Yamaguchi Prefecture. The theft occurred at approximately 6:00 a.m. on the morning of December 3. Security footage captured a man breaking into the dealership office before making off with the new-generation Type R. The car was the property of a dealership employee, having been purchased soon after the model's launch in September.
The thief crashed the vehicle shortly after the theft took place, primarily damaging the front-left of the Type R. The vehicle was abandoned, with the thief fleeing the scene on foot.
Police have alleged the perpetrator of the theft was a member of the US military based at the Marine Corps Air Station Iwakuni. The base hosts 5,000 US Marines and their family members, and is primarily tasked with pilot training and air patrol duties. At times, the base has come under fire from locals, primarily due to noise pollution. Lawsuits have been filed over the matter, with a 2009 case awarding plaintiffs significant compensation for the imposition.
The U.S.-Japan Status of Forces Agreement governs issues around members of the US military stationed in Japan. Servicemembers are generally subject to Japanese jurisdiction and do not have any sort of wide-ranging diplomatic immunity. However, if a servicemember is not arrested outside of a base by Japanese police, they may remain in US custody until officially indicted for a crime. The official text of the agreement reads that "The custody of an accused member of the United States armed forces or the civilian component over whom Japan is to exercise jurisdiction shall, if he is in the hands of the United States, remain with the United States until he is charged."
Japanese authorities have often complained that this frustrates efforts to prosecute offenders. At times, the agreement has become a hot political issue in the wake of serious crimes committed by US servicemembers.
According to Creative Trend, the thief was able to return to MCAS Iwakuni, and thus would be temporarily beyond the reach of Japanese police. If officially charged, though, the individual in question could be handed over to Japanese authorities. The Drive has contacted MCAS Iwakuni for comment on the matter and will update this article accordingly.
Damage to the vehicle appears to be relatively limited. The front bumper has taken a hit, with damage to the left headlight, fender, and suspension components also likely.
It all looks very repairable though, which is good news for the owner. Replacing a Civic Type R would be difficult in the extreme at the moment, with high demand for the most powerful Type R of all time. The waitlist for a new Civic Type R is estimated to be around three years long. Creative Trend reports that Honda has 20,000 backorders for its premier hot hatch.
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