Stolen goods valued at 600 yen, but their probiotic benefits are priceless.

In a way, studying crimes can be a window into the human condition, granting us a view of what drives people to make the choices they do. Unfortunately, at the same time, there’s a certain criminal element that seems to do things that defy all rational thought, at least on the surface.

As a prime example of this, we have the case of the stolen pack of lactic acid drinks in Osaki City, Miyagi Prefecture. Lactic acid drinks are very popular in Japan for their purported health benefits and tangy taste. Many of the leading brands, such as Yakult, are also famously sold in very small 65-milliliter (two-ounce) bottles so they don’t get left open and contaminated. Because the bottles are so small, they’re often sold in packs of five or 10 for a few hundred yen each at supermarkets.

▼ A 10-pack of Yakult beside a single bottle

And because they’re so reasonably priced and modestly enjoyable, lactic acid drinks aren’t normally considered targets for theft. And yet on 10 March, an employee at Osaki City Hall went to the staff fridge and found that her pack of lactic acid drinks, valued at 602 yen (US$4.30) was pilfered. She then reported it to the police who launched an investigation.

▼ Osaki City Hall

According to surveillance camera footage, a male suspect had entered the building and gained access to the fridge at approximately 3:45 p.m., when he proceeded to take the tiny digestive aids. However, without any other leads to help identify the suspect, the investigation ultimately came to a screeching halt…


On 14 May, police were called in to a railroad crossing in Osaki City on the JR Rikuu East Line. A man had pressed the emergency stop button at the crossing despite there being no emergency. Police arrested the suspect, a 37-year-old company worker in Osaki, on obstruction of business charges and noticed his appearance and behavior were similar to the lactic acid drink thief.

▼ An emergency stop button at a railroad crossing in Osaki City

When asked if he stole the drinks he admitted to the crime, but police are still trying to ascertain a motive for pretty much anything that he’s been up to. Meanwhile, some readers of the news online suspect the theft might have had something to do with the high cost of Yakult these days.

“That Yakult 1000 is really expensive.”
“I can’t afford Yakult, so I only drink Pilkul.”
“Maybe he thought no one would bother calling the police for some Yakult.”
“It must have happened several times before too. Why else would they have a security camera on the fridge?”
“I think he’s trying to craft the most ridiculous criminal record ever.”
“How did he know where the fridge was?”
“I don’t understand any of this… Even reporting the Yakult to the police seems weird to me.”

Being the leading brand, people often associate “lactic acid drink” with the brand Yakult much like how one might call any cola a “Coke” but it should be noted that the exact brand that was stolen wasn’t specified in this case.

The true identity of the drink, as well as other crucial details, like how the man knew where the City Hall staff fridge was, remain to be seen. Hopefully, the police can get to the bottom of this and pass the information on to the media, but I’m not holding my breath. I mean, it’s been three years and I still don’t know why that one guy stole seven piano covers.

Source: TBC News, Sendai Television Incorporated, Itai News
Photos ©SoraNews24
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