Crime doesn’t pay.

It’s a well-known fact that convenience stores are just about everywhere in urban parts of Japan. And with the wide range of services they offer, you’re never too far from a copy machine or fried chicken. As a tribute to how ever-present they are, I once ran a five-Family-Mart course in two minutes flat.

▼ There were also two 7-Elevens and two Lawsons adjacent to the course

Unfortunately, this convenience also carries over to crime, allowing a robber to potentially hit several stores in a single sweep of an area if they were daring enough. Speaking of which, on 11 January, a 20-year-old man living in Osaka city was arrested for attempting to rob four convenience stores in a span of about 20 minutes.

According to police, the first store was hit sometime after 3:00 a.m., at which time he allegedly threatened the clerk with a 20-centimeter (8-inch) kitchen knife and demanded they hand over their money. Having escaped with 60,000 yen (US$454) in cash, he then attempted to hit three other stores in under half an hour. It is unclear if any of those other robberies were successful, but none of the victims were harmed.

If that wasn’t already a speedy enough crime spree, the suspect is also said to have stopped at another convenience store between his third and fourth robbery attempts. Rather than threatening this clerk, the suspect instead asked to pay his phone bill using the money he had stolen minutes earlier.

It was that one brief moment of responsibility that proved to be his downfall. After the first robbery, police used surveillance camera footage to track his movements between the stores, which were all within a 500-meter (547-yard) radius of each other. They could then use the transaction record of his phone-bill payment to easily identify him.

▼ News report on the robberies

The suspect admitted to the crimes, saying that he committed them because he was having money problems. Despite the suspect’s hardships, readers of the news took little pity on him.

“It would have been funny if he tried to pay at the store he robbed.”
“After three he must have been feeling invincible.”
“That’s so stupid, it’s impressive.”
“I wonder if he had a smartphone addiction.”
“With four robberies, he’s looking at some hard time.”
“It’s like he felt the risk of not having a phone was worse than committing robbery.”
“It’s like real-life Grand Theft Auto.”

Perhaps video games are responsible, not so much for the crime but for the mentality that it only takes a few minutes for the stars at the top of the screen to fade away after an offence so you can resume normal life activities. If that is the case, then we owe video games a debt of gratitude for helping to make people less adept at committing crime.

Source: FNN Online Prime, Asahi Shimbun, Hachima Kiko
Top image: Pakutaso
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