Thieves have taken over two hundred rails and end terminals.

There’s crime spree going on in Chiba Prefecture, Tokyo’s neighbor to the east, with thieves making off with over 200 items within the past three months. The criminals aren’t going after precious stones, luxury cars, or high-end electronics, though. No, their target is roadside guard rails.

Over a roughly two-week period (January 25 to February 10), Chiba’s Road and Environment Bureau says that 13 guard rails on national and prefectural highways have been stolen, along with 42 curved “end terminals,” as the pieces at the end of a rail section are called.

▼ An end terminal, circled in yellow

The thefts have also been happening on city-administered roads in Chiba. Since the start of winter, the towns of Abiko, Inzai, Kashiwa, Sakura, and Shiroi have collectively had 13 guard rails and 133 end terminals stolen. Add it all up, and the total comes to 26 rails and 175 end terminals, with the collective damage being roughly 1.5 million yen (roughly US$13,000).

With theft of any kind being relatively rare in Japan, Twitter commenters have been started by both the quantity and class of stolen goods, reacting with:

“Guard rails can be stolen…”
“What kind of nut job does that?”
“Someone really creepy.”
“I don’t even think the average person would know how to remove one.”
“It’s not the sort of thing you could do with the sort of tools you’d just happen to have on you when the opportunity presents itself.”

Since guard rails’ size and weight would make them hard to carry off by yourself, the police suspect that more than the culprit isn’t an individual, but likely a team of criminals. No speculation has been offered as to a motive, but the thieves going to the trouble to take so many bulky items suggests there must be some sort of value to them, and plans to resell them as scrap metal seems the most likely explanation.

Weird as the crimes may be, though, they’re still crimes, and also a matter of public safety, since guard rails tend to be installed on, you know, places where there’s though to be a higher chance of cares sliding off the edge of the road. In response, the police are planning to increase patrols, and there’ also talk of refining the terminal ends’ conduction to make it harder to remove the bolts that anchor the end pieces to the rest of the rail.

Source: Sankei News via Livedoor News via Jin, Twitter
Top image: Pakutaso
Insert images: Pakutaso (edited by SoraNews24)
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