A 74-year-old man from the Osaka area has been arrested as a suspect in a string of thefts that have taken place over the past eight years.
Police had been been baffled by a series of some 250 break ins, in which a total of goods worth ¥30 million ($260,000) had been stolen. Footage from security cameras had captured a figure dressed entirely in black, with a neck warmer pulled up to his nose and a hood pulled down to his eyebrows. The figure moved with agility, running on top of roofs and squeezing through tight spaces, leading investigators to assume that the so-called “Ninja of Heisei” was a younger individual.
In May of this year, the suspect, identified as Mitsuaki Tanigawa, accidentally revealed his face in security footage, allowing the police to identify him and begin their investigation. They started following Tanigawa, and investigators said that he “doddered” out from his house during the day and would then go to an abandoned apartment, where he would change into his black outfit and move around the city with a quickness and grace that belied his age.
Investigators couldn’t pursue Tanigawa, but they were able to apprehend him at the apartment before dawn, after he had robbed an electronics store. The 74-year-old, who was a suspect in previous thefts, later admitted to his crimes, saying that “he hated working and thought stealing was quicker.” He was also quite confident in his skills, explaining that he only needed 10 minutes to get into a house, usually stealing cash from his sleeping victims.
He was quoted as saying that he had had a good run, and recognized that age may have led to a slipping of his skills: “If I were younger, I wouldn’t have been caught. I’ll quit now as I’m 74 and old enough.”