NIIGATA (TR) – When law enforcement in Japan makes an arrest for theft, the stolen goods are often displayed, evenly separated, on a large blue tarp.
One reason for the practice is so that the local police department can boast the results of its investigative prowess.
But there is also the possibility of a rightful owner seeing their lost property in the media and making a claim, which can lead to additional charges against the suspect.
That was the case in Murakami City earlier this month following the arrest of a male company employee who is suspected in the theft of dozens of pairs of women’s shoes.
The local police department may have its work cut out for itself in finding the owners, but this is well-worn (so to speak) territory: They arrested the same suspect seven years ago for the same crime.
“I’ve been interested in shoes worn by women since I was a kid”
On June 10, the Murakami Police Station displayed 139 pairs of nurse shoes, high-heel pumps and sandals atop the requisite blue tarp.
Thus far, police have accused 47-year-old Tsunehito Isobe, an office worker living in Murakami, in one theft.
At around 6:00 p.m. on March 2, he allegedly trespassed into an office in Murakami and stole one pair of sandals valued at 500 yen.
Beforehand, the office in question installed a security camera system after it experienced thefts of women’s shoes.
Footage from the camera led to the arrest of Isobe on suspicion of theft and trespassing on May 19. He was prosecuted nine days later.
“I’ve been interested in shoes worn by women since I was a kid,” he told police in admitting to the allegations.
“I’ve been stealing for several years”
During the investigation, police searched the residence of Isobe in Murakami.
Investigators found the 139 pairs of shoes — 77 of which were nurse shoes — packed in cardboard boxes, many originally for model toys, placed under his bed and inside a closet.
Police also found one white nurse’s outfit with a name marked on the collar, a black sweater and two pairs of stockings.
“I stole about half of [the items],” Isobe also said, “and the rest I bought on online sites and at second-hand shops. I’ve been stealing for several years.”
Investigators had been through this before. In 2014, he stole shoes from drug stores, hospitals and long-term care facilities in Niigata City
That same year, investigators entered Isobe’s residence and seized cardboard boxes containing 244 pairs of footwear, including 200 nurse shoes and 44 pumps.
At one point, police had confirmed the owners of 13 pairs, valued at 9,300 yen.
“I did it to satisfy my sexual desire,” Isobe said at the time. “The smell is an important point.”
“Feelings of the victims”
Yasuyuki Deguchi, a professor at Tokyo Future University, specializes in criminal psychology. He says that the means for sexual arousal can differ from person to person but the risk of being arrested often supersedes criminal activity.
“In that sense, it can be said that this is a very rare case,” said Deguchi.
For his part, Isobe is showing remorse — he is even taking into consideration that he is a repeat offender.
“I think I did this again because I could not forget the excitement I had gotten accustomed to before,” he said. “A suspect in such a case does not realize that the victims are suffering. So I need to understand the feelings of the victims.”
“Please contact us”
The investigation is ongoing.
Also on June 10, Atsushi Hasegawa, the vice chief of the Murakami Police Station, said that about half of the shoes found inside Isobe’s residence were stolen. But no reports have been filed with his station or those nearby.
“If you notice a theft but think it is ‘not significant enough’ or find lodging a report ‘troublesome,’ please contact us,” Hasegawa said.
Persons who think they are victims in this crime are advised to call the Murakami Police Station at 0254-52-0110.