April 9, 2008 / 5:53 AM / 12 years ago

Papua New Guinea store owner steam cleans thieves

CANBERRA (Reuters) - A dry-cleaning shop owner in Papua New Guinea has found a unique way of encouraging thieves to clean up their behaviour: giving them a steam cleaning.

Police in the northeast coastal town of Lae said a 20-year-old man suffered burns and scalding to his abdomen, chest and back after the owner turned a steam cleaner on him after he was caught stealing pants worth 14 kina (2.80 pounds).

“The owner has done this to many people already,” police spokesman Nema Mondiai told Australian Associated Press on Wednesday.

Police seemed unconcerned about the radical punishment and released the thief after being assured he had learned his lesson.

Papua New Guinea, a mountainous country of about 6 million people, has significant crime problems and 85 percent of its population live off subsistence farming.

A new report by Australian academics on Wednesday, based on surveys of 153 PNG firms, found break-ins, burglary, armed hold-ups and robbery, as well as employee theft, were the most frequent crimes faced by local businesses.

Reporting by Rob Taylor, editing by Valerie Lee

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