Japan’s rail security is being brought into question after a rail enthusiast accessed a locked crew compartment while the train was in operation.

Japanese trains are famous around the world for their punctuality, cleanliness, and safety, but now their security is being re-examined after it was revealed that a passenger entered a locked crew’s cabin with a duplicate key purchased at an online auction.

The incident occurred at approximately 11:20 p.m. on 8 July, when a female passenger unlocked the door to the crew member’s cabin on a train that was running on East Japan Railway’s Joban Line. The self-confessed train enthusiast then played around with things like the windscreen wipers and stole a train ID number sign from the compartment — valued at 2,000 yen (US$17.74) — by hiding it in the waistband of her trousers after leaving the restricted compartment.

The breach was caught by an onboard security camera, which recorded the incident from inside the cabin, with the footage being used to help identify the perpetrator as an unemployed 22-year-old woman from Tokyo’s Katsushika City. She was later arrested and charged for theft and violating operational laws.

▼ An example of a crew compartment can be seen at the end of the Joban Line train below, located behind the door with the handle.

It was revealed yesterday that the defendant was sentenced on 4 October to one year and six months in prison, after being handed a three-year suspended sentence by the Matsudo branch of the Chiba District Court.

The prosecution condemned the defendant as “selfish” after she said the reason for her crime was that she liked the 115 number Joban Line train and wanted to have a piece of it for herself.

▼ The Joban Line runs from Tokyo through to Chiba, Ibaraki, and Fukushima Prefectures before ending in Miyagi Prefecture.

The brazen act has brought up concerns over the ease with which the defendant was able to attain a key to enter the crew’s compartment of the train, with online commenters expressing fear over what might happen if keys get into the hands of people with more sinister motives.

While the site that sold the duplicate key has not been revealed, online comments have revealed stories of other stolen train items being sold online, including a stolen brake valve handle that went for 80,000 yen. Many suspect it’s the rail staff themselves who are selling it online to earn extra money.

▼ Rail enthusiasts have been known to hand over large sums of cash for train-related goods.

The recent court case opens up the possibility for future civil trials where JR East may consider making claims for damages from stolen goods. However, as of this writing the rail company is yet to make any official statement regarding the case and the serious breach of safety on their train service.

Sources: Nifty News, Niconico News
Top image: Wikipedia/TC411-507
Insert images: Pakutaso (1, 2), Wikipedia/NordNordWest,Chumwa,Sasha Krotov,Dinamik,Pauk

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