Even thieves are feeling the pinch of COVID-19.

At around midnight on 23 April, a 66-year-old man was walking through the skyscraper-lined streets of Yodogawa Ward in Osaka city. Although even at this hour late-working businessmen can usually be seen bustling about and grabbing drinks, it was during the state of emergency in Japan and the streets were virtually deserted at the time.

The man passed by a yakiniku restaurant that had closed down due to the pandemic. After looking around, he skillfully broke open a window and climbed inside. Then, taking out his flashlight, the man spotted a safe, grabbed it, and was on his way home after only three minutes.

After the owner found the safe with 20,000 yen (US$189) inside missing, they contacted the police who launched an investigation. It seemed that, while the man was skilled in breaking and entering, he failed to expect a security camera in the restaurant’s kitchen.

Because the intruder was wearing only a baseball cap, with no mask or sunglasses, one of the detectives immediately recognized his face. It belonged to a career criminal who was arrested a few years back during a memorable heist in which he started cooking in the very restaurant he was robbing.

Since he was well known among law enforcement, it didn’t take long for them to locate him and make an arrest on 14 May. In the ensuing interrogation, the man confessed, “I thought I might get caught by my face showing up on a security camera, but I couldn’t get a mask anywhere because of the coronavirus.”

▼ If he had only held off for a month or so. Now, there’s more masks in Japan then people know what to do with

In total, the man was facing 24 charges of robbery stemming back to September of 2017, for a total of 1.73 million yen ($16,000) in damages. However, the suspect also confessed that the effects of the coronavirus were digging into his bottom line. In the four burglaries he committed during April, he only obtained 37,000 yen ($350).

“It’s awful because the sales at restaurants are too low,” he told police, “probably because of the coronavirus.” He then added, “Who would have thought the coronavirus is an inconvenience, even when it came to stealing?”

It’s unclear why the burglar didn’t simply put on another kind of face covering like a handkerchief or scarf during his brief theft, but I suppose considering alternatives isn’t a strong suit of those who choose a life of crime.

▼ Even 100-yen shops have a delightful range of ways to hide your identity

Moreover, this burglar’s story is indicative of the often overlooked impact of COVID-19 has been having on crime in Japan. According to the National Police, crime for the first half of 2020 dropped by 15.4 percent from the same period of the previous year. It would seem less people going out has been creating less opportunities to steal, but business owners are still being warned not to leave valuables in closed-down shops which have become prime targets.

Of course, what’s bad news for criminals tends to be good news for everyone else, so it’s hard to feel too down about their particular misfortunes. Hopefully this will motivate some thieves to turn their lives around, which would in turn free up the police to deal with this recent sharp rise in Pokémon-related violence going on in the streets.

Source: Sankei News
Top image: Pakutaso
Insert image: Pakutaso 1, 2, 3
● Want to hear about SoraNews24’s latest articles as soon as they’re published? Follow us on Facebook and Twitter!