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A Real Wonka from New Zealand

New Zealand Yoga Instructor and Paddle Board Enthusiast Charlotte Piho Apprehended by Police in Bali for Stealing Chocolate

(6/18/2012) Charlotte Piho, a 30-year-old stand-up paddle boarder and yoga instructor, has run afoul of the law during a recent visit to Bali.

According to local press reports, Piho was apprehended on Tuesday, May 29, 2012 at the Bintang Supermarket in Seminyak, Kuta caught in the act of shoplifting Rp. 127,000 (US$13.70) of chocolate.

Inilah.com tells how Piho was seen by store security wandering around the aisles of the store with a large handbag, looking left and right, while depositing a private horde of chocolates in the bag. The woman, who hails from the Cook Islands, then departed the store without stopping at a cashier to pay for the candy. Stopped by the store’s security, the chocolate were found in her handbag resulting in both the chocolates and the woman being turned over to police at the Kuta Precinct for further processing.

Silly Little Mistake

Speaking to the nzherald.co.nz, Piho is insisting she always intended to pay for the chocolate and is astonished that she could be locked up over such a "silly little mistake."

Meanwhile, Charlotte’s father Tuhe Piho has told the New Zealand press that his daughter had traveled to Bali to improve her yoga techniques and gain further qualifications. In mitigation, the elder Piho said: "She rushed and hadn't prepared herself properly for going over there. She didn't have enough money to survive."

Charlotte, You're No Schapelle Croby

The woman, seeing herself more a victim than a perpetrator in the incident, said: “For me, it was like Schapelle Corby. I didn't know what was happening. They said it doesn't matter if it's just a piece of chewing gum, it's a huge thing."

Schapelle Corby is an Australian woman serving a sentence of 20 years in prison for attempting to smuggle 4.2 kilograms of marijuana into Bali in 2005. Corby has steadfastly proclaimed her innocence, accusing Australian airport baggage handlers of planting the drugs in her checked luggage. Phio, however, has not divulged to the press or the police who she thinks may have planted the chocolates into her handbag.

Phio was held overnight at the police station and was required to report regularly to the police while authorities consider handing her case to prosecutors for a possible criminal prosecution.

The girl’s father admitted his daughter had done a foolish thing in a foreign country and did not blame Bali for his Charlotte’s predicament.

Theft can be viewed harshly in Indonesia where a 15-year-old boy accused of stealing a single sandal in late 2011 in Sulawesi saw prosecutors initially seek a 5-year jail term for the young student.

Among the several considerations weighed by police before referring a case to prosecutors for trial is the demonstrated remorse of the person charged with a crime and whether that remorse warrants being let off with a stern warning. In the present circumstances, however, describing her thievery to police ,who could still refer he to trial, as a “silly little mistake” may prove a “very silly major mistake” for Charlotte Piho.