Suspect claims he took the balls but didn’t steal them.

The city of Tomakomai in Hokkaido Prefecture is a generally peaceful place where beautiful nature and thriving industry exist in harmony. However, that peace was shook on the morning of 21 December when a one-man raid took place at a shopping center in the city.

At approximately 10:30 a.m. a man wearing a ski mask approached the section of the second floor of the mall where the capsule toy machines were located. He then proceeded to pick up one of the machines which measured one meter (three feet) in height and contained 141 super balls and 1,800 yen (US$16) in coins. 

▼ Capsule toy and other such vending machines can be found all over the mall

The man started to head towards a corridor that connected the shopping area with JR Tomakomai Station, carrying the machine on his shoulder. However, he stopped at one point and put the machine down. At that same moment a clerk spotted the man and called out to him. The suspect responded, “I’m not stealing,” and then started to run away towards the station leaving the machine behind.

The clerk notified police and an officer on patrol spotted a man fitting the description of the suspect. After questioning, the 26-year-old man was arrested, but in a subsequent interrogation denies some of the charges, saying: “I carried the machine away, but I didn’t intend to steal it.”

It’ll probably take a really good lawyer to support that excuse, especially with the very damning fact that the suspect was wearing a ski mask at the time. On the other hand, some readers of the news pointed out the odd fact that he took what must have been the least valuable machine of the bunch, since most capsule toy machines contain collectable figures that sell for higher prices than super balls.

“If he took a machine with anime figures I could understand it, but super balls?”
“Interesting, he’s probably going to say he was just moving it around as a joke, and get his charges reduced to obstruction of business.”
“Anytime someone wears a ski mask, they intend to steal something.”
“That excuse is an oldie but a goodie.”
“If he gets off because of that it’ll be open season for shoplifters.”
“I’m sure he was going to return it all when he was done.”

It is a fun thought experiment to try and imagine what the suspect could have been doing instead of stealing the machine. 

The best I can figure is that with the colder weather setting in, especially in Tomakomai where it can get below 0 degrees Celsius (32 degrees Fahrenheit), the trek from the station to the super ball machine would have been too hard for a lot of little kids. So, the suspect put on a ski mask to brave the cold and move it closer to the entrance so the children could have access to the balls with the added benefit of increasing sales for the super ball company.

That or he just wanted the cash inside. I guess it’ll be up to the courts to decide.

Source: HBC, Otakomu
Top image: Pakutaso
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