The Yomiuri ShimbunThe Metropolitan Police Department is planning to request information on foreign pickpockets from overseas investigators and analyze their methods, as part of efforts to prepare for upcoming events such as the Rugby World Cup opening in September next year and the 2020 Tokyo Olympics and Paralympics.
Foreign pickpockets have committed crimes at previous such events, prompting the MPD to decide that it was necessary to take action. It will also conduct training in how to handle groups of armed pickpockets carrying knives and other weapons.
Foreign pickpockets are said to target large-scale events, such as Olympic Games and World Cups, at which numerous spectators gather. According to the MPD, 20 of the 41 pickpockets arrested in Tokyo during the 2002 soccer World Cup cohosted by Japan and South Korea were foreign nationals. One suspect even said, “Japanese people aren’t on guard against pickpockets, so it’s easy money.”
The MPD will gather information, through the National Police Agency, from local investigative authorities about losses from pickpocketing at such events as the 2016 Rio de Janeiro Games and the Winter Games held this February in Pyeongchang, South Korea. It will examine what countries pickpockets came from, and analyze their particular characteristics and recent methods.
In addition to the MPD’s third criminal section, which specializes in pickpocket crime, personnel in the criminal investigation sections of various police stations will also be trained in how to investigate pickpocketing.
In the five years through last year, 812 people were identified as pickpockets in the Tokyo metropolitan area. Of that number, about 10 percent were foreign nationals. They came to Japan from countries including China and South Korea, as well as from such areas as eastern Europe and South America.