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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

3 Arrested for Looting Theater

Three construction workers have been arrested on suspicion of stealing belongings abandoned by the hostages at the Dubrovka theater, city police said Monday.

The workers are suspected of stealing two driver's licenses, a personal digital assistant, two CD players and a tape recorder, said the spokesman, who asked not to be identified.

All three men, who were detained last week, were charged with theft and one with illegal possession of a knife, he said. The police spokesman identified them as Andrei Kalmykov, Dmitry Akhryukov and Valentin Kazakov, all employees of a construction company called Stroitel.

The police official said no other thefts at the theater had been registered as of Monday.

The arrest of the three construction workers was first reported last Wednesday, but spokeswoman Svetlana Petrenko of the city prosecutor's office said Sunday that her office remained unaware of any incidents of either theft or looting at the Dubrovka theater. No one answered her telephone Monday.

At least two Russian newspapers reported instances of looting at the theater, citing Federal Security Service commandos who stormed the theater Oct. 26.

The Argumenty i Fakty weekly, in last week's issue, quoted an unidentified FSB commando as saying that after the theater was stormed, "some bastards" were checking handbags of female hostages who had been knocked out by gas, looking for wallets. The commando did not specify who was checking purses.

After the FSB's elite anti-terrorist Alpha and Vympel units stormed the theater and killed the hostage-takers, regular policemen and rescue workers rushed into the building to carry out the hostages.

The Gazeta newspaper, also citing unnamed FSB officers who participated in the operation, reported that one policeman and some of the rescue workers had searched the pockets of unconscious hostages for money and other valuables.

"Pockets were searched by everyone who came to help us. Rescuers, everyone. ... The shooting was over, after all," said the account published in Gazeta on Oct. 29.

However, an FSB spokesman said last week that he could not confirm this account.

Some hostages did lose their wallets and passports but chose not to file a police report, according to Moskovskaya Pravda and other Russian newspapers.

After Chechen gunmen seized the theater Oct. 23, they took away hostages' bags and purses, placing them in the orchestra pit. However, given the number of the hostages, they failed to confiscate all of the purses and some were able to keep theirs, hostages said.

Yelena Petrova, whose son was among the hostages, said she had not heard of any such cases of theft, adding that she found the reports offensive.

"My son had 350 rubles in his pocket and they stayed there," Petrova said. "I am outraged by these accusations. Those people were saving our children."

Vladimir Yudin, a deputy city prosecutor, announced Monday that prosecutors have begun to return personal items found inside the theater to the former hostages, Interfax reported.

Staff Writer Natalia Yefimova contributed to this report.