Investigators say they’ve cracked this Christmas case.

Two of the most common ways to spend Christmas Eve in Japan are a dinner date at a fancy restaurant or a cozy at-home meal of fried chicken. One man in Tokushima Prefecture, though, spent Christmas Eve getting arrested on charges of stealing a Santa statue.

On December 1, a covered shopping street in Tokushima City’s Higashi Shinmachi district put up a Christmas decoration display in front of its fountain. The centerpiece was a 90-centimeter (35.4-inch) tall Santa Clause figurine, who would be welcoming shoppers and others strolling by throughout the holiday season.

However, on the very first day the statue went up, it was stolen, with security camera footage showing someone stuffing Santa into a black van at about 11 p.m. that night.

▼ Does this count as theft or kidnapping?

Shortly thereafter, a waitress working in a restaurant in the city received an unusual gift from a customer: a 90-centimeter Santa statue. It’s not clear if the woman and the customer were already acquainted or not, but even if they were, the size and uniqueness of the gift, plus the fact that he was giving it to her more than three weeks before Christmas, were apparently puzzling enough that she began to suspect that the Santa might be stolen, and she eventually contacted the police, who recovered the statue on December 10.

▼ Video of police officers escorting Santa back to the fountain following his rescue

In a separate incident, Tokushima police had recently arrested a 45-year-old unemployed man for lighting a motor scooter on fire. Examining security camera footage of the Santa statue theft, they concluded that this same man was responsible for that crime as well, and placed him under arrest, for a second time, on December 24, although the timing seems to have been a coincidence, and not specifically chosen to serve justice for Santa on Christmas Eve.

Currently, the man is denying the Santa theft allegations. Whether or not he turns out to have been the culprit, this is a good reminder that while there’s room for debate on whether store-bought or hand-made presents are better, given stolen goods as gifts is generally a bad idea, especially since the waitress doesn’t appear to have been particularly moved by the gesture. So if you don’t neither the funds to buy a present nor the skill to make one, the best thing to do is just sit out gift-giving entirely, and maybe just join the Japan’s Revolutionary Alliance of Unpopular People holds anti-Christmas march instead.

Source: ABC News/Yahoo! Japan News via Hachima Kiko, NHK News Web
Top image: Pakutaso
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