He’ll need to steal an excavator too to dig himself out of this hole.

A case of constructive crime broke out in the town of Nakafurano in Hokkaido Prefecture late last month when a 45-year-old man was arrested for stealing a front end loader for the purpose of clearing the snow in his area.

Giving credit where credit’s due, the suspect seemed to have had the foresight to know that this would be an especially snowy winter. Last weekend, Niigata prefecture was hit particularly hard by fast and heavy snow, leaving over 1,000 cars stranded on a highway.

So, especially in the northernmost prefecture of Hokkaido, having access to heavy equipment is a great defense against getting snowed in. However, rather than requesting his township earmark a part of the budget for a snow plow, this man decided to take matters into his own hands and acquire one himself.

According to police, at some point on the weekend of the 28 November, the second-hand shop owner drove out to a construction site on the side of a road in the neighboring town of Kamifurano. He was able to start the loader with a master key and drove it onto his flatbed truck to take back home.

It is unclear how this suspect acquired a master key for himself, but it certainly isn’t hard. It’s a bit of an open secret that you can just buy one-size-fits-all keys to your favorite pieces of heavy equipment from places such as Amazon.

▼ Wow! A set of Caterpillar-Komatsu-Bobcat keys for 14 bucks is a steal!

That might seem surprising, but security probably isn’t such a problem for these things since stealing and concealing something like a bulldozer is inherently difficult. This case was no different, and Hokkaido Prefectural Police were able to track down and apprehend the suspect on 8 December.

In the ensuing interrogation, the man admitted to the theft saying that the loader was for his own use in clearing snow. At this point, a resourceful lawyer might use the defense that the man is a modern-day Robin Hood and his theft was really a misguided but altruistic gesture that helped his community.

Lawyer: “And so, Judge Redford, I hope you can agree that this was a man simply trying to help his neighbors endure the harsh winter.”

Unfortunately, in the investigation police also found several items for sale in the man’s used-goods shop that were also stolen. While it’s highly possible that those items were stolen by other people and then sold to him, it certainly doesn’t help his case much.

Maybe the judge will see fit to kill two birds with one stone and sentence the suspect to some good old-fashioned community service. Just arm him with a shovel and reflective safety vest and tell him to get cracking, because there’s going to be a lot more snow out there that needs clearing.

Source: Yomiuri Shimbun
Top image: Pakutaso
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