Elderly outnumber teenagers in Tokyo shoplifter stakes

Featured Japan - July 10th, 2013
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Elderly people caught shoplifting in Tokyo outnumber teenage delinquents for the first time, according to a report by Japan police.

A quarter of the people arrested on suspicion of theft in Tokyo last year were at least 65 years old, shedding light on the dreary lives of elderly residents in the bustling capital.

According to figures, 3,321 people aged 65 or older were arrested for shoplifting, accounting for 24.5% of the total, while those aged 19 or younger made up 23.6%, with 3,195 individual arrests.

Both figures are slightly down in absolute terms from 2011, a spokesman of the Tokyo Metropolitan Police said.

“Even though the total number of arrests for shoplifting has been declining, the ratio of elderly people [is] on the rise,” he said.

The survey said more elderly people are resorting to the crime because they are lonely, “having no one to talk to, and having no hobby to enjoy.”

Nearly 25% of Japan’s population of 128 million is aged 65 or older while low birth rate has pushed the greying population.

Around 3.5 million elderly women and 1.4 million elderly men live alone in Japan. Reports of single, elderly persons who died alone and not found for weeks have been a common occurrence in the country, according to AFP.