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schoolboys caught in shoplifting spree

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« on: July 21, 2010, 12:53:11 am »

Students in shoplifting spree may be expelled

By JOHN EDENS and GRANT BRYANT - The Southland Times | 5:00AM - Tuesday, 20 July 2010

PRINCIPAL UPSET: Xavier College in Kew, Melbourne. — GARY MEDLICOTT/The Age.
PRINCIPAL UPSET: Xavier College in Kew, Melbourne.

DISGRACED SCHOOLBOYS from an elite Melbourne college could be expelled after a weekend shoplifting spree in Queenstown, the school's principal said yesterday.

A group of 16 Xavier College students, boys aged 14 to 17, spent four hours on Saturday stealing $6000 of skiwear, sports gear and souvenirs from seven central business district stores.

Xavier College, a leading Jesuit school in Kew, was opened in 1878 and caters for about 2000 students, including almost 100 boarders.

Tuition fees range from $14,700 a year to $22,600 for years 11 and 12, not including boarding fees of $18,900 a year.

Principal Dr Chris Hayes said the 30-strong party included four teachers, and he and parents met the group at the airport on Sunday.

Students were suspended on the spot pending an investigation into the spree, which was "absolutely devastating".

Teachers were told to return the goods or reimburse stores if items were damaged, and the culprits would repay staff, Dr Hayes said.

If the spree was organised or it emerged a ringleader, or ringleaders, started the shoplifting then expulsion was an option, he said.

Managers from two of the stores hit in the spree said such incidents had become an almost annual occurrence.

Souvenir and sports goods store 45 South manager Ian Bell yesterday said Australians were "without doubt our best customers" but groups of young Aussies were often light-fingered. "It's not guaranteed to happen every year, but groups of young guys on tour seem to get the peer pressure thing where mates have taken stuff, and the idea seems to go around."

A high-powered slingshot, two snow jackets and an expensive day pack, valued at $700, were taken on Saturday and returned by two teachers on Sunday morning, Mr Bell said.

DT Souvenirs manager Sarah Tallboys yesterday said packs of Australian schoolboys on pinching sprees was becoming an annual occurrence. "I'm disappointed they're not being prosecuted ... it's turned into a regular problem for us in the last three years, and it's disappointing because the huge majority of Australians visiting Queenstown are great."

Tracksuit pants and rugby shirts valued at more than $600 were returned to DT Souvenirs by two teachers on Sunday morning, Ms Tallboys said.

R&R Sport Queenstown manager Mark Williams said schoolboys ripped security tags from three $500 ski jackets. Staff stopped the boys outside a store and searched their bags before teachers went back to R&R and paid $1500 because the jackets were badly damaged.

"It's tarnished the school's name," Mr Williams said.

Outside Sports general manager Liz Cox said it was more a case of boys being boys. "I think it's just some boys who got foolhardy and pretty stupid," she said.

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