“I just wanted some money to buy cigarettes and coffee,” he said.

Shrines and temples in Japan operate based partially on the sales they receive from charms and fortunes, but also on the donations that patrons throw into the offertory box before praying. The ritual is to throw a coin, usually a 5-yen coin if you have one, into the box to draw the attention of the spirit or god of the shrine, then clap and bow as you pray.

What you shouldn’t do is open the box and take out money to spend for yourself. Especially if you’re a police officer. Unfortunately, one Japanese officer in his 40s was so desperate for some change that he did just that.

The unnamed 42-year-old sergeant, a member of the Nabari Police Precinct in Komono, Mie Prefecture, apparently used a screwdriver to open the offertory box of a certain shrine in Komono and stole about 200 yen (US$1.76) in March of this year. Charges of theft have been filed against him by the Yokkaichi City branch of the Tsu District Public Prosecutor’s Office on the 10 of this month.

The man has admitted to the charges, saying, “I just wanted money for cigarettes and coffee.” Apparently, he told investigators that his wife hadn’t given him any spending money in 10 years, which is what led him to commit the crime. In Japan, it’s common for women to manage the household finances and delegate spending money to their husbands, though in this case, it seems he was never allotted any.

In addition to the filed charges, the sergeant received a three-month suspension from his police station, but shortly after this sentence was passed down, he submitted a request for voluntary early retirement.

The sad situation elicited sympathy from Japanese Twitter users, who couldn’t help but feel sorry for the poor man:

“To go to these lengths…Maybe he should just have just gotten divorced.”
“What was his wife doing with all his money? What does she do? And what did he do to get coffee before? I have lots of questions.”
“I really want them to forgive the poor guy.”
“He probably couldn’t bring himself to say anything to his wife…I understand that feeling.”
“There are a lot of police who do bad things, and this isn’t a good thing, but I still feel bad for him.”

As alluded to by the last commenter, this isn’t the first unusual police-committed crime in recent memory, as it follows incidents of unauthorized underskirt photography and purposefully clogging women’s toilets. But at least now maybe the former sergeant can use the free time granted by his three-month probation–or rather, his retirement–to finalize his divorce and come out of this a new man.

Source: NHK News Web via Itai News, Twitter
Top image: Pakutaso
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