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Hyogo Prefecture has a bit of a reputation for culinary excellence. Besides being the home of Kobe beef, it’s also famous for French and Chinese cuisine, along with boasting some of Japan’s best octopus. But could Hyogo’s food be so good that alleged criminals would give up their freedom for it?

On May 12, police at the Nagata Ward Precinct in Kobe took a suspected thief into custody. The unemployed 32-year-old man, whose name has been withheld, turned himself in, saying, “I want to eat the tasty food Nagata Precinct serves prisoners in its holding cells.”

The individual confessed to authorities on May 11 at 11:40 a.m., perhaps hoping to be processed in time for lunch. His arrest was not made official until the next day, however. He is being held on suspicion of stealing a wallet containing 8,000 yen (US$78.75) from the storage compartment of a motor scooter parked in Kobe’s Satoyama-cho neighborhood, also located in Nagata Ward, sometime between 3 p.m. on April 8 and 10 a.m. the following morning.

The boxed meals served at police stations are called kamben, a contraction of the Japanese words for police officer and bento, or boxed meal. Instead of being prepared in-house, police stations order them from local bento shops, which deliver them to the station. Their ingredients are typically the same as in any other bento in Japan, including rice with side dishes such as grilled salmon, dumplings, eggs, stir-fried vegetables, and pickles. In general they have a reputation for being bland and unappetizing, but as they are locally-sourced, their flavor and overall quality varies from station to station.

▼ A standard kamben

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This isn’t the first time this has happened in Hyogo Prefecture. In 2009, police were called to an Internet café in the city of Akashi, where a man was refusing to pay for the drinks he had ordered. The unemployed man had also been taken into custody the year before in Akashi, and wanted to be arrested so he could eat the precinct’s delicious kamben once again.

Unfortunately, it had been an especially busy day for Akashi’s finest, and their holding cells were already filled to capacity, so the man was taken to the Awaji City station instead. With no reports of the man purposely getting arrested again, it’s safe to conclude that their kamben supplier isn’t quite as good as Akashi’s.

Sources: Naver, Kobe Newspaper Next
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