The family that steals together stays together…until they have to go to separate men’s and women’s prisons of course.

In February of this year, 65-year-old Satoki Sakagami, his son Yuki, wife Yasue, and step-daughter Shihomi (Yasue’s daughter from a previous marriage) were forced to leave their apartment due to money problems. Living out of a car Yuki had borrowed and parked next to a pond, they are believed to have made a family decision to turn to a life of crime to get by.

In the ensuing months, Saitama Prefectural police were looking into a rash of over 40 burglaries throughout their jurisdiction. It wasn’t until the late hours of June 30th that they managed to catch Satoki and 26-year-old Yuki while they were attempting to steal 88 items – including fishing gear, video games, and cash, and valued at about 62,400 yen (US$570) – from a coffee shop in Honjo City.

At this point it was evident that the police had been getting wise to the Sakagami family’s activities over the months, because the very next day they swooped in and arrested 30-year-old Shihomi for attempting to sell stolen goods to a secondhand shop. Also, that same day, 55-year-old Yasue was also apprehended while trying to take a person’s wallet in a supermarket when they weren’t looking.

With the Sakagami house of cards collapsed like in the end of a Scorsese movie, the authorities are currently trying to link them to the other 41 incidents, which if proven, will make them responsible for a combined 3.97 million yen ($36,000) in damages. According to the authorities, they said they used the money for living expenses.

Many online found it hard to ignore the similarities between this case and the Oscar-winning Japanese film Shoplifters (Manbiki Kazoku) about a “family” of thieves living in Tokyo.

“Wow, it’s a real Manbiki Kazoku…”
“Wha? There really are families like this?!”
“I wonder if someone made a movie about their lives, would it win awards too?”
“I have a feeling cases like this are going to increase from now on.”
“I hope they don’t make a movie about these people. They’re just a bunch of thieves and don’t deserve it.”
“Morals in this country are slipping, so it’s becoming easier for people to become thieves.”
“I can feel the film rights being sold as we speak.”

While I’m not crazy about rewarding people who steal with a book/movie deal, I have to admit I’m extremely curious about the thought process that each member of this family went through leading up to their crime spree. I can only imagine that if my family had to turn into band of robbers we would probably devolve into the beginning of Grand Theft Auto III after about a week.

It certainly begs the question; Which of us is truly the dysfunctional family?

Source: Asahi Shimbun, NHK, Hachima Kiko
Top image: Pakutaso
Insert images: Pakutaso 1, 2
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