When there’s someone strange lifting your store’s goods, who you gonna call? Bounty Hunter!

You may have heard that Japan is one of the safest places to live, sporting multiple cities where people can wander the streets without fear and even leave their doors unlocked.

But just because somewhere is safe, that doesn’t mean it’s free of crime, and one particular crime — shoplifting — has been on the uptick throughout Japan. With the Mainichi Shimbun reporting losses to companies that exceed 500,000,000,000 yen (US$4,641,103,500) per year, it’s no wonder stores are searching for a way to address the issue.

And Insotsu Inc., a website that offers numerous contract services such as English tutoring and kimono fittings, might just have an answer… might being the operative word.

“Shocking! This anti-shoplifting incentive powerfully wards away would-be shoplifters,” says an ad for the service

The service they offer involves enrolling the shop’s regular customers as “bounty hunters” who will turn the shoplifter in for a reward. The shoplifter, in turn, will be charged an “anti-shoplifting countermeasure fee” that covers the bounty payment.

The process outlined in the company’s press release implies that any shoplifters will be deterred as soon as the store makes it known that they are adopting the Bounty Hunter policy, simply because the shoplifter is aware counter-measures are being taken. Then the store can hang up an informative poster so hopeful Bounty Hunters can apply, and perhaps even earn a little cash for nabbing a shoplifter.

“When are they on patrol? Who is a Bounty Hunter? Even the staff doesn’t know,” the poster states, before offering 30,000 yen for successful captures.

Some stores are reluctant to implement security cameras, due to the tacit mistrust of their customers that comes with running surveillance on them. Asking customers to keep tabs on each other could offer some degree of protection to the store while protecting customers’ privacy as a whole.

Still, this doesn’t address the more serious issue of instilling paranoia in shoppers. How are you to know that a Bounty Hunter won’t take you to task for pocketing your handkerchief or taking too long to look at a wall of decorative mugs? Bounty Hunters also aren’t required to have any specific training or de-escalation skills, meaning they might end up in a physical altercation with the person they accuse.

There also remains the very real issue of false accusations. While security cameras provide evidence with which to support your accusations, prosecuting shoplifters based on eyewitness accounts — eyewitness accounts where the eyewitness stands to profit, don’t forget — relies solely on the content of your Bounty Hunter’s character.

The promotional text for the service exclaims that it can be used in stores and even in train carriages to stop potential gropers, but stores or facilities looking for security might want to consider how the Bounty Hunter program will work out in practice before they sign up.

Source, insert images: @Press
Top image: Pakutaso

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