Elaborate sting operation lasts over four hours, ends with an officer tripping over and another one appearing from the bushes in a full-on Ghillie suit.

In Japan, busy cities and quiet residential neighbourhoods are dotted with small local shrines that never close their gates, and while people usually limit their shrine visits to the daytime hours, there are some individuals who walk through the grounds well after dark, and not always for innocent reasons.

That’s what occurred in Iruma City in Tokyo’s neighbouring Saitama Prefecture last month, when a man was seen entering the grounds of a local shrine at around 10:30 p.m. on 16 October. He headed over to a collection box containing coins, tipped the contents out onto his palm, and strode off like a rich man.

However, he wasn’t rich, and he didn’t get very far, because he was immediately pounced upon by four police officers, who’d been waiting for him in the dark, blending into the scenery as if they were about to bust up a gold heist.

▼ Watch the moment the man is apprehended below.

The clip plays out like a scene from a movie — or rather, a comedy — as one officer is so keen to catch the culprit he slips on the ground and falls over in front of the thief, who simply stands there looking stunned.

As the officers shout “Keisatsu! Keisatsu!” (“Police! Police!“), another figure runs in from out of frame, dressed in camo gear and a full-on Ghillie suit covered in fake leaves, suggesting he’d been standing motionless amongst the trees.

▼ Good work, guys — you made it look like a comedy sketch, but you got the job done.

According to reports, the officers involved in the sting operation had to hide for more than four hours, as it was necessary for them to witness the crime in order to make an arrest. With one of the four officers concealed in camo gear like an army sniper, the other three, in plain-clothes, had no choice but to huddle together under a large covering until the criminal appeared.

It was a lot of effort to catch the thief red-handed, and viewers delighted in seeing the action unfold as it did.

“The officer falling down made me lol!”
“No wonder he fell if he started running at full speed after sitting there for four hours.”
“They must’ve been so excited to hideout like this!”
“I can’t believe they had an officer in a Ghillie suit! That’s too much!”
“Even the thief looks puzzled by the Ghillie suit lol”
“I bet they had a good laugh over that suit at the station!”

The officers certainly came prepared for the stakeout, fulfilling their duty to uphold the law and protect the country’s law-abiding citizens, and shrines, from thieves. So how much was saved, thanks to this elaborate police operation?

665 yen (US$6.31).

▼ Stealing from an offertory box is not a fast path to riches.

After being apprehended on the night of 16 October, the unemployed 30-year-old thief was re-arrested by Saitama police on 9 November on suspicion of other incidents of theft. Given the police were waiting for him at the shrine, it’s likely the thief had previously raided the collection box, or other similar offertory boxes in the area.

Speaking to reporters, the Shinto priest at the shrine said nobody expects people to steal from an offertory box. Sadly, though, it does happen — back in 2018 a man was arrested for taking 30 yen from one such box at a shrine in Chiba Prefecture.

The priest expressed his extreme admiration for the efforts of the police officers over the theft of a few hundred yen. It just goes to show it doesn’t matter how much you steal, stealing is stealing in the eyes of the law, and the police will go to all sorts of lengths to find you, even if you’re a senior stealing one solitary grape from a fruit store.

Source: FNN Prime Online via Jin
Top image: Pakutaso
Insert images: Pakutaso
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