FUKUOKA (TR) – Fukuoka Prefectural Police are examining security camera footage as a part of the investigation into the theft of gold bars valued at 600 million yen by thieves dressed as police officers in Fukuoka City earlier this year, reports TBS News (Dec. 16).
Investigative sources revealed on Thursday that at least four men who falsely announced themselves as “police” can be seen in the footage, taken near JR Hakata Station, greeting persons in possession of the gold under the premise that they were engaging in a smuggling investigation.
When stopped by the thieves, the victims were transporting the gold, weighing more than 100 kilograms, to a shop for sale. Under the guise of an inspection, the thieves took custody of the gold, which was packaged in attache cases, and fled the scene by car.
The incident took place on a day over the summer. The victims told police that they had purchased the gold the day before.
Police suspect that the theft could be an organized crime because the suspects seem to have known beforehand that the gold bars were going to be sold.
Gold smuggling up
Over the past 15 years, the price of gold has jumped, climbing by nearly a factor of four, according data obtained from the Ministry of Finance as reported by NHK (Dec. 14).
This price trend coincides with a rise in the number of gold smuggling cases uncovered by law enforcement. In the one-year period through July, the number of such cases totaled 294, a figure that is 1.7 times larger that the over the same period one year before.