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Indian Students Face Arrest Over Alleged Shoplifting in New Jersey

HomeU.S.Indian Students Face Arrest Over Alleged Shoplifting in New Jersey

HOBOKEN, N.J. – Two Indian students pursuing higher education in New Jersey found themselves in legal jeopardy last month after a routine grocery shopping trip took an unfortunate turn. Bhavya Linganagunta, 20, from Hyderabad, and Yamini Valkalpudi, 22, hailing from Guntur, were arrested on March 19th for allegedly shoplifting items valued at $155.61 from a ShopRite supermarket in Hoboken.

The incident unfolded when the students, both enrolled at the prestigious Stevens Institute of Technology, visited the grocery store and paid for only two items at the checkout. However, security footage revealed they had collected an additional 27 unpaid items before attempting to exit, according to the Hoboken Police Department.

When confronted by store employees, the young women claimed it was an honest mistake, with one citing insufficient funds in her account and the other saying she had simply forgotten to pay for some goods. Nevertheless, the police were summoned, and the students found themselves in handcuffs.

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“Yes! If they run your information, it’s going to show that you were arrested,” one arresting officer warned the students, addressing concerns about potential impacts on their student visas and future job prospects.

While being taken into custody, one of the suspects asked if the arrest could jeopardize their H-1B visa applications or employment opportunities, highlighting the high stakes for international students in the United States.

As part of a resolution, the students were compelled to provide written assurances that they would not revisit the ShopRite store. They had initially offered to pay the full amount owed, with one even suggesting double the price as restitution.

The case has drawn comparisons to a 2015 incident where two Indian women were caught on surveillance cameras stealing 155 razors worth $4,500 from a Walmart in Tennessee, raising questions about the pressures and challenges faced by Indian students and immigrants in the U.S.

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Dr. Pramod Delhi, a sociologist at Rutgers University who studies the Indian diaspora, believes financial strain could be a driving factor behind such crimes among Indian students.

“The costs of higher education in the United States can be exorbitant, especially for international students who often lack access to financial aid or employment opportunities,” Delhi explained. “This immense pressure to succeed and provide for their families back home can sometimes lead individuals down an unfortunate path.”

While acknowledging that shoplifting is unacceptable, Delhi emphasized the need for greater support systems and resources for international students grappling with economic hardship and cultural adaptation.

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The Hoboken Police Department has stated that the students are considered repeat offenders, though specific details about prior incidents were not provided. Prosecutors will now determine whether formal charges will be filed.

For Linganagunta and Valkalpudi, the fallout from this incident could extend beyond the immediate legal consequences. Their academic pursuits, visa statuses, and future career prospects within the U.S. may hang in the balance as the case proceeds through the judicial system.

This incident serves as a sobering reminder of the complex challenges faced by international students in the United States, caught between the pressures of academic excellence, financial constraints, and navigating a foreign legal landscape. As the details continue to unfold, it prompts broader conversations about supporting and safeguarding the well-being of this vulnerable population.



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Mezhar Alee
Mezhar Alee
Mezhar Alee is a prolific author who provides commentary and analysis on business, finance, politics, sports, and current events on his website Opportuneist. With over a decade of experience in journalism and blogging, Mezhar aims to deliver well-researched insights and thought-provoking perspectives on important local and global issues in society.

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