Osaka police nab ‘Heisei Ninja’ suspected in 250 burglaries

"Heisei Ninja"
The “Heisei Ninja” as seen in security camera footage taken in Higashi-Osaka City (Mainichi Broadcasting System)

OSAKA (TR) – Dressed entirely in black and quick on his feet, he eluded Osaka’s finest for nearly a decade. And then, to their surprise, they discovered upon his arrest that he is an elderly man.

In July, Osaka Prefectural Police arrested Mitsuaki Tanigawa, a 74-year-old residence of Osaka’s Chuo Ward, who is suspected in more than 200 burglaries in eastern Osaka Prefecture, according to the Sankei Shimbun (Oct. 19).

Between March of 2009 and July of this year, Tanigawa is believed to have broken into shops and residences in 254 cases in and around Higashi-Osaka City in which the value of lost property totals 29.4 million yen.

The suspect told the Kawachi Police Station, which sent him to prosecutors on Thursday, that he committed the crimes to cover living expenses. “I thought that I would never get caught,” the suspect was quoted.

Conscious of security cameras

Over the course of the investigation, he became known as the “Heisei Ninja” in law enforcement circles.

Prior to carrying out each of the crimes, Tanigawa would commute by train from Osaka to two abandoned residences in Higashi-Osaka where he would change out of his street clothes and into an all-black outfit. At night, he would then venture out.

Tanigawa was conscious of security cameras, always ensuring that he was not caught on tape, according to police. However, he did appear on a street in footage this spring, when he was shown to have his face covered by a black neck warmer.

Police marveled at his athletic ability. In gaining access to an electrical goods store in Higashi-Osaka, the suspect navigated through a narrow gap between buildings and scaled a wall. He then unfastened a window and crept inside before allegedly stealing 27,000 yen in cash.

“Not that of an elderly person”

“His agility was not that of an elderly person,” said one officer, who witnessed the suspect slipping through a space 15 centimeters wide.

Police discovered one of Tanigawa’s hideouts in Highashi-Osaka in July. He was subsequently arrested on suspicion of theft and trespassing.

“I don’t want to work,” the suspect told police, according to Fuji News Network (Oct. 19). “Theft is quicker.”

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