TOKYO (TR) – In a joint investigation, law enforcement division in Ibaraki and Tochigi prefectures have busted a car theft ring that is believed to have been behind more than 500 incidents in primarily the Kanto area over the past two years, reports Kyodo News Network (Sept. 14).
Police first arrested Tadashi Fujimoto, 43, over the alleged theft of a vehicle containing a rifle and ammunition in the parking lot of a pachinko parlor in Chikusei City, Ibaraki Prefecture in December of last year. He was sent to prosecutors in April.
Over the course of the investigation, police uncovered the theft ring, whose four members are believed to have either stolen or attempted to steal vehicles or stolen valuables from inside in 553 incidents in Fukushima, Tochigi, Saitama, Mie, Shizuoka, Ibaraki and Chiba prefectures between 2016 and March of this year.
According to police, Fujimoto used the money to buy kakuseizai (stimulant drugs) and cover living expenses. “[These crimes] allowed me to obtain money to settle payment at once,” one of the suspects was quoted.
After the theft of a vehicle, generally carried out through the use of a screwdriver to turn the ignition, the suspects disassembled it at a yard and sold the parts overseas. The value of the stolen vehicles (365 in total) is nearly 500 million yen, police said.