Three week manhunt comes to an end on quiet residential street in Hiroshima.

Growing up in Fukuoka Prefecture, Tatsuma Hirao liked playing tag with his friends. He was good at it, too, with his fleet feet and slippery moves making him so hard to catch that he earned the nickname “Lupin,” after the cunning thief protagonist of anime/manga Lupin III, who’s always a step ahead of his pursuers.

Unfortunately, the Lupin nickname took on another aspect as he got older, as Hirao became a real-life criminal, eventually ending up in prison in Ehime Prefecture on the island of Shikoku. On the night of April 8, however, the 27-year-old Hirao managed to slip out from the confines of the Matsuyama Prison’s Oi Shipbuilding Facility.

For weeks he evaded capture, but the police suspected he might be hiding out on Mukaishima, an island on the Shimanami Kaido road/bridge network that connects Shikoku in the south and Japan’s main island of Honshu in the north. Following Hirao’s escape, a series of burglaries was reported in northern Mukaishima, with food, cash, and clothing being taken from homes while their owners were out.

▼ Matsuyama Prison Oi Shipbuilding Facility (red) and Mukaishima (blue)

The authorities tightened their net, carefully monitoring the bridges leading off of Mukaishima. However, even three weeks after Hirao escaped captivity, he still hadn’t been found, until police officers were contacted on April 30 by an employee at an Internet cafe in Hiroshima City, some 70 kilometers (43.5 miles) west of Mukaishima, saying Hirao had come to the cafe and used its shower facilities.

▼ Hiroshima City (green)

So how did Hirao make his way across the one and only bride to Honshu with the police on the lookout for him?

▼ Closeup of Mukaishima

He didn’t. Instead, he swam across the channel, which according to the Japanese Coast Guard is 200 meters (656 feet) at its narrowest point, a not-impossible distance for a capable swimmer. Once on Honshu, he used the money he had stolen to purchase a train ticket to Hiroshima.

▼ The channel between Mukaishima and Honshu

The details of how Hirao slipped through to Honshu might have remained a mystery, but following the tip from the Internet cafe worker, officers rushed to the scene, apprehending Hirao in a residential area not far from Hiroshima Station.

▼ The police proved more adept at running Hirao down than his elementary school pals had been.

Upon being apprehended, Hirao told the police “I swam across to Honshu,” and also revealed that the reason he’d fled incarceration was “I didn’t like the human relationships of being in prison.” Unfortunately for Hirao, with his escape itself and the multiple subsequent burglaries added on to his original unreported crime, he’ll now have to spend even more time in jail than before.

Sources: Livedoor News/Sankei News via Hachima Kiko, Yahoo! Japan News/Yomiuri Shimbun via Otakomu, YouTube/ANNnewsCH, Asahi Shimbun
Top image: Pakutaso
Insert images: Google (edited by SoraNEws24)