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    Police in southern Russia say house stealing 'normal practice'

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    A villager in south Russia's Astrakhan Region has been detained on suspicion of stealing his neighbor's house, which is common practice in remote areas, a local police spokesman said Monday.

    ROSTOV-ON-DON, April 21 (RIA Novosti) - A villager in south Russia's Astrakhan Region has been detained on suspicion of stealing his neighbor's house, which is common practice in remote areas, a local police spokesman said Monday.

    The spokesman said the hapless house owner, who had been away for four months, reported the theft to police after he returned home to find his house gone and just the foundations remaining.

    "A local resident decided that if no one was living in the house, it could be taken away piece by piece, and he dismantled it for construction materials and put them inside his yard," the police spokesman said, adding the suspect faced a maximum of three years in prison, if found guilty.

    The spokesman said that this was not the first case reported recently.

    "This is traditional practice in remote villages - when no one is home for a long time, the house starts falling to pieces because locals take pieces. We don't even know about the majority of cases, but sometimes the owners report them," he said.

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