Crime doesn’t pay, unless you have a game of Monopoly planned later on.

Over the years, we’ve reported on numerous cases involving criminals passing off toy money as the real thing. That’s because a unique feature of Japan is that many of its stores offer novelty cash that very closely resembles the real thing.

▼ Toy money (left), and real money (right); a color copier can compensate for the size difference

These incidents happen frequently enough that it makes one wonder why they’re allowed to be sold in the first place. Perhaps it’s because these phony bills not only bring enjoyment to fiscal-minded children, but can actually be used to prevent crime even more effectively than they can to commit them.

For example, on 29 September, Aichi Prefectural Police arrested 42-year-old Asahi Shimizu for the burglary of a 78-year-old woman’s home. He currently is accused of stealing 70,000 yen (US$663) from her safe – all of it fake.

It all started last June when the woman awoke to find that 220,000 yen ($2,084) in real cash had been stolen from the safe in her Nishio City home. A lot of people in her situation would be forgiven for falling into a state of despair and fear from someone invading their home and taking a sizable chunk of cash, but that wasn’t the case with this woman.

Rather than just lament her loss, she began to craft a plan to catch the burglar if he ever tried to pull something with her again. First, she installed a hidden camera pointing directly in front of the safe. Then, she took a bank envelope and stuffed it with seven toy 10,000 yen bills. After that, she just sat back and waited for the thief to do his thing.

It didn’t take long either. The following month, the woman’s funny money was gone and the surveillance footage revealed the culprit. The video shows the suspect picking up the envelope and inspecting its contents. However, it must have been too dark for him to notice that “TOY BANK” was written across each bill.

▼ A news report showing the surveillance footage

Although his face was concealed by a long cloth, his distinctive beer gut and ill-fitting clothes must have allowed police to track him using street cameras. Eventually, they were able to identify the suspect and make the arrest a few months later.

Shimizu currently denies the charges, but police are investigating to find evidence linking him to the June theft of actual money.

With Japan’s increasingly aged population, many scammers and thieves view the elderly as easy pickings, but it’s worth noting that not everyone gets slower with age. Some people just get more unflinching.

Source: FNN
Top image: Pakutaso
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