Two brothers and their friend accused of robbing elderly woman who was still a lot younger than them.

On the morning of April 17, a 77-year-old woman was doing her shopping in the town of Yawatahama in Ehime Prefecture, on Japan’s island of Shikoku. Unfortunately, while she was at the store, someone stole the wallet she had in her shopping bag, which contained roughly 16,000 yen (US$123) in cash.

It’s always unfortunate when someone is targeted for a crime, but especially so when it’s a senior citizen being taken advantage of, as you’d hope that even criminals would have some sense of decency and consideration towards their elders. In this case, though, perhaps the thieves were able to get around that particular moral concern because they were even older than the septuagenarian victim.

The police have arrested three men who they believe acted as a team to surreptitiously steal the woman’s wallet: Teruo Nomoto, Toshiharu Nomoto, and Takehiro Watanabe. Teruo and Toshiharu, as you might have guessed, are brothers, with big brother Teruo being 87 years old and Toshiharu 83. Both of them are still younger than their acquaintance Watanabe, who’s 89.

One of the three was caught in the act of attempting to steal another woman’s wallet on May 4 in Niihama, another town in Ehime on the opposite side of Yawatahama from the prefectural capital of Matsuyama, where the Nomoto brothers live. Investigators believe the three men were acting together and were all present at the time of the April robbery, and the trio has been placed under arrest.

Street crime such as pickpocketing in general is relatively rare in Japan, and even when it does happen the perpetrators’ ages are usually much lower, so Twitter commenters have been especially surprised.

“Bunch of naughty old men.”
“Those guys are pretty spry.”
“Ordinarily I’d be happy to see people their age being so energetic, but…”
“They’re like an old-man version of the Cat’s Eye [anime] thieves.”
“Is this another example of Japan’s aging society?”

All three men say they either “don’t remember” or “don’t recall” stealing the 77-year-old woman’s wallet. In Japan, you’ll often hear the “I don’t remember” trotted out in situations where someone is being charged with committing a crime while intoxicated, and the statement is often met with a lot of incredulity. In this instance, though, it might be a little more plausible given the ages of the accused, but at the same time, not being able to clearly remember that you didn’t rob someone usually isn’t very conducive to creating an aura of innocence, and the police are currently investigating whether or not the men were involved in other thefts that have taken place in the area recently.

Sources: Yahoo! Japan News/Ai TV via Jin, FNN Prime, Ehime Shimbun, Twitter (1, 2)
Top image: Pakutaso
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