A rare example of someone being below the law.

About two weeks ago, a man in Nagakuta City, Aichi Prefecture was arrested for stealing a pair of pumps that belonged to a music teacher. What made this theft even stranger was that when taking the shoes, he had replaced them with a nearly identical new pair.

The ensuing investigation found a further 20 pairs of women’s footwear in the suspects home, suggesting that he had done this several times. He had also admitted to police that he had exchanged the shoes because he enjoyed the scent of the used ones.

▼ A news report at the time of the arrest.

That’s how things stood as of 10 April, but upon further investigation, new details have come to light about this thief’s modus operandi.

It turned out that the man would survey the shoe cubbies of his victims’ work place and take photos so that he could purchase a convincing pair of lookalikes. Then, after buying the shoes, he would break them in himself for a bit before making the switch, so that hopefully the victim wouldn’t notice.

It would seem this new information proved too much for the initial victim to handle, because the music teacher dropped the charges against him, saying that the details of the case were too “disgusting” for her.

She wasn’t alone either, after her story broke many other women came forward about their shoes feeling suddenly different and reported it to police. However, none of them we’re willing to pursue charges against the man for similar reasons.

▼ Since shoes aren’t worn inside many workplaces, they are often left at the front entrance on a shelf or the floor, making them all too easy to tamper with.

As a result, on 23 April the suspect was set free and will not stand trial. The police have also determined that he was not stalking any of the women themselves, just their shoes, so they will not seek charges on those grounds either.

“Due to the nature of the case, it was difficult to get cooperation,” said an officer. “If that’s what the victims want, then there’s nothing we can do, but it’s a shame because we put a lot of work into the investigation.”

Meanwhile, netizens were amazed that this man will go unpunished, presumably because what he did was so repulsive and insignificant that no one wanted anything to do with it.

“So this guy is so perverted that even the law can’t touch him?”
“He fought the law and he won… by being totally gross.”
“He’s too icky to prosecute.”
“Maybe now that he’s free he’ll come give me some new shoes next.”
“This whole outcome makes me very uncomfortable.”
“That is one powerfully revolting guy.”

It’s easy to look at the facts of the case and dismiss it as not a big deal, especially since the shoes were replaced. However, it’s still a violation of people’s privacy that undoubtedly fills them with a general sense of unease and can stay with them throughout their day-to-day life.

That feeling is only amplified by having to dwell on it with repeated police reports and testimonies. Throw in the considerable attention the case has gotten in the media, and it’s not unimaginable that the victims would prefer to put it all behind them as soon as possible.

One bit of consolation is that the guy is fully on the local police’s radar now, so in the very likely event that he tries something like this again, his chances of getting caught have gone up considerably.

Source: Mainichi Shimbun, Hachima Kiko
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