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Man Accused of Stealing 440 Left Shoes

October 27, 2003

TOKYO (AP) _ Police arrested a man for stealing shoes at a southern Japanese hospital then found a collection in his home of 440 women’s shoes _ all for the left foot.

The private hospital in Usu city, 500 miles south of Tokyo, began receiving complaints two years ago from patients and employees that shoes removed at the entrance hall were disappearing. In Japan, it is customary to remove shoes before entering homes and some public facilities.

The missing footwear was always for the left foot and in a women’s shoe style, a local police spokesman said Sunday.

Ichiro Irie, 45, was arrested Saturday on suspicion of having stolen two leather shoes the previous day during one of his twice-weekly hospital visits, the spokesman said.

In Irie’s home, police found a box in a closet overflowing with the left mate to 440 pairs of women’s shoes, including high heels, patent leather pumps, sandals and nurses shoes.

When questioned about the alleged thefts, Irie told police he had ``a penchant for women’s feet,″ the Yomiuri newspaper, a major daily, said.

It was not clear why he may have preferred the left foot.

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