TOKYO (TR) – Tokyo Metropolitan Police have busted a car theft ring that targeted Toyota HiAce vans in the Kanto area, reports Jiji Press (Nov. 14).
On April 20, sheet metal worker Kimio Takahashi, 59, Toshiaki Gokita, a 59-year-old employee in the construction industry, and two Brazilians are alleged to have stolen a Toyota HiAce van (valued at 1.5 million yen) from a parking lot in Koshigawa City, Saitama Prefecture.
Gokita denies the charges while the other three suspects admit to the allegations.
Starting in January of 2014, the ring is believed to have stolen around 200 vehicles with a total value of approximately 300 million yen in Tokyo and five prefectures, including Saitama, Chiba and Ibaraki.
Of the 200 vehicles, around 100 were Toyota HiAce vans. The ring also targeted vehicles in the Toyota Crown series and Lexus sedans.
The HiAce van is known for its durability, making it a popular item among persons interested in second-hand vehicles, according to TV Asahi (Nov. 14).
According to investigators, Takahashi disassembled the stolen vehicles outside his residence in Sanmu City, Chiba Prefecture. He then used the parts to make new vehicles to be sold.
“I would hear what sounded like the cutting of metal at 7:00 a.m.,” a neighbor of the suspect is quoted by TV Asahi.