“WHY?!?” is the first question that springs to mind, but first the police want to answer “Who?”

Police in the city of Sapporo are on the hunt for a master thief. Well, to be fair, since no witnesses have seen the crimes as they went down, we can’t rule out the possibility that the ongoing crime spree is actually the work of a team of highly sophisticated criminals coordinating the heists, hitting 16 targets in just the last half of May alone.

But it’s probably just one guy. Why? Because it’s hard to imagine there’s more than one person in the world who’s interested in the sort of loot that’s being made off with: urinal drain grates.

And no, this isn’t a case of someone shoplifting brand-new grates from hardware stores or home centers. It’s specifically the little pieces of metal sitting at the bottom of urinals in public park restrooms, which have ostensibly been peed on hundreds, if not thousands, of times, that the thief is going after.

Images shown in the below video, provided by the Sapporo city government, shows examples of some of the types of grates that have been stolen. With grates with both long slots and round openings having been targeted, the criminal seems to be on an indiscriminate rampage.

The most recent thefts have occurred in Sapporo’s Higashi Ward, where 15 urinal grates were stolen in late May, with another taken in Kita Ward during the same timeframe. Adding in those 16, the Sapporo police currently have 37 unsolved urinal grate thefts on their books.

As you might rightfully assume, urinal grate theft isn’t something cities in Japan spend a lot of effort on countermeasures for. The grates can be easily removed by hand, and their grossness, combined with their lack of desirability to the vast majority of humanity, are ordinarily enough to prevent anyone from walking off with them. There’s little to no monetary incentive in stealing them, seeing as how they only cost around 1,000 yen (US$7.40) brand new. While we haven’t done much shopping in illegal toilet parts black markets recently, we can’t imagine used grates would sell for very much, even if you could find a buyer, and it’s not like the grates are large enough to be worth much of anything to scrap metal buyers either.

That leaves vandalism or a very peculiar fetish as the most likely motives. For now, the Sapporo police are asking parkgoers to report any suspicious persons or missing grates, in hopes of solving this urine-soaked caper.

Source: Hokkaido Cultural Broadcasting via Golden Times
Top image: Pakutaso
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