Since February 2015, the Tokyo area has been hit by a spate of thefts by an elderly woman who has managed to evade arrest until just this week.

As the sun was setting on the evening of Monday, 16 May, an 83-year-old woman was standing on a street in Musashino, Tokyo, waiting at a bus stop. Suddenly a voice called out to her, “How do I get to Nakano Station?”

According to reports, it was Tamako Sagai, a woman in her seventies, who approached the other senior began asking directions. However, unbeknownst to her victim, Sagai took advantage of this distraction to allegedly remove a notebook valued at about 500 yen (US$4.50) from her victim’s shoulder bag.

▼ Location of the alleged theft

It was this little book that ended up undoing Sagai’s 15-month crime spree as police are said to have caught her red-handed at the scene and took her in for questioning. At the station, Sagai reportedly admitted to the charge of theft saying coldly: “I did it for the money. I also did others.”

Indeed, investigators have connected Sagai—who had been dubbed “Koekake Tamako”, or “Calling Tamako”, by the authorities on account of her distracting tactics—to about 20 other incidents wherein the same tactic of calling out to people on the street or in supermarkets and asking for help were employed, and she is thought to have helped herself to her victims’ money after taking wallets from bags carelessly left open.

Although Sagai’s victims have had to deal with the loss of money and possessions, perhaps a greater damage was inflicted on the senior community in Japan which is increasingly becoming associated with crime. So please, if an elderly person does approach you asking for assistance, don’t let a few bad apples prevent you from helping out.

That being said, it’s probably best to keep your bags firmly closed the whole time. You can’t be too safe.

Source:, 0Tere News 24, LH Magazine (Japanese)
Top Image: Google Street View