Karma police, arrest this man.

When you visit a Shinto shrine in Japan, out front you’ll often see a large wooden box with slots in the top. This is known as a saisenbako and intended for visitors to put money in, either as an offering to the deities enshrined there or simply as a donation for the upkeep of the shrine. The amount of money people put in varies widely, as high as 10,000 yen (US$76) bills, but there’s a common belief that a 5-yen coin is the luckiest amount to give.

▼ Someone using a saisenbako: You don’t have to do it so dramatically, but it doesn’t hurt.

However, because these boxes are usually out in the open and with relatively little security, they’re sometimes the target of thieves looking for a little spending cash. We’ve seen stories of someone getting arrested skimming some sacred scratch off the top, either by breaking the lock, fishing through the slots, or just flipping the whole thing over.

▼ A news report about someone doing the latter

However, it’s much rarer to hear about someone trying to steal the whole box. This is mainly because — as you can see in the above picture and videos — they’re really big, and usually made out of heavy planks of wood. Nevertheless, one 46-year-old man in Nishio City, Aichi Prefecture clearly overestimated his own strength and tried just that.

At about 3 p.m. in the afternoon of 20 April, the suspect was spotted attempting to pick up a Nishio shrine’s box. A witness called police who rushed to the scene, but in the time it took them to arrive the man had apparently given up. He was picked up near the temple and only charged with attempted theft since he accomplished nothing.

The man admitted to the charge and said he wanted some money “for food, drink, and cigarette expenses,” but said that “the saisenbako was too heavy to lift.” Most readers of the news online seem to agree that a saisenbako being too heavy to lift should have been obvious from the start.

“If he was strong enough to pick one of those up, he’d have no problem getting a manual labor job.”
“He would have gotten more sympathy if he stopped at ‘food and drink.’”
“When I was a kid, I used to put chewing gum on a stick and pick coins out.”
“Use a string or something, idiot.”
“I know that feeling when you don’t have cigarette money. It makes you a little crazy.”
“Guess it’s time to start working out.”

Of course, even if this man had trained to become one of those guys who pulls trains and rips phone books in half, there were still a number of other hurdles in this caper. He would have to carry this highly conspicuous box home in broad daylight, open it, dispose of the evidence, and last but not least, put up with whatever bad mojo comes along with ripping off a shrine.

▼ Even if no one’s watching, the universe is, man.

At least he was honest though, since a more seasoned thief would have probably taken advantage of the lack of hard evidence and talked their way out of it. Hopefully, he can find a more legit and less impossible way of getting money for his cigarettes from here on out.

Source: Mee-TV, TBS News Dig, Hachima Kiko
Top image: Pakutaso
Insert image: Pakutaso
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