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Pair used ‘coronavirus survey’ ruse in robbery of elderly woman in Machida

TOKYO (TR) – Tokyo Metropolitan Police have arrested two men over the alleged robbery of an elderly woman in Machida City, reports TBS News (Sept. 25).

On September 18, Nozomi Nakauchi, 20, and Ryoichi Sakurai, 23, both of no known occupation, posed as gas line inspectors upon arrival at the entrance of the 81-year-old woman.

“We would like to ask for your cooperation in a novel coronavirus survey,” one of them falsely said through the intercom.

After she declined, they entered the residence though a window. They then bound her limbs, gagged her and stole cash and her bankbook. The woman is currently receiving medical care in a hospital for broken ribs.

Upon their arrests on suspicion of robbery resulting in injury, both
suspects admitted to the allegations, police said.

“I received instructions from [the lead in the crime] via the communication app Telegram,” Nakauchi was quoted by police.

Nozomi Nakauchi, left, and Ryoichi Sakurai (Twitter)

“Underground part-time work”

The suspects were recruited via an online listing for “underground part-time work.” On the day of the incident, they took taxis to the residence.

An examination of security camera footage showed both suspects in the area before the crime took place, police said.

Police believe the woman was the victim of a scam known as apoden (appointment telephone). In such cases, the victims are asked about money and valuables on hand over the telephone prior to a home invasion or other crime.

Police are aware of more than 10 similar incidents that have taken place in other parts of the Kanto area, including in Kanagawa and Chiba prefectures.

In all of the cases, the perpetrators posed as electrical or gas line inspectors. Police are now investigating if a ring is behind the string of robberies.