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Statute of limitations expires on Miyako safe heist of 1997

Date Posted: 2004-09-10

Seven years have passed since nearly ¥4 million disappeared from a village office safe on Miyako Island.

Today, the thief is home free, because the statute of limitations on prosecution has expired. Still, the scandal in Gusukube Town’s town office has people talking.

The money stolen was earmarked for payments to families on welfare.

The ¥4,590,000 had been transferred from a Miyako bank to the town office by a member of the bank’s accounting section staff, one day before it was to have been paid out to needy citizens. She placed the money in the safe at the town office, then went home. On arrival the following morning, she opened the safe only to find it empty.

“I surely did put the money in here,” she told police, and there were witnesses who saw her. Still, the safe had not been broken into, indicating someone knew the combination numbers to the safe.

Officials believe a criminally oriented person was on the town office staff, but police were unable to figure out who it was. The investigation continued throughout the years, but now Miyako Police Assistant Chief Seijun Kuniyoshi says “we did try to find the person, looking everywhere, but we didn’t catch the criminal.

Mayor Katsu Nakama says “I feel so sorry the police couldn’t find who did it. I did ask them to please do anything to continue the investigation, and we did one ourselves too.” He conceded though, “there is a limit for us to investigate everybody.”

The case goes into the history book now, with prosecution out of the question. Now, Miyako residents are all thinking of the suspects they have in their minds, and say that now on they’ll continue to look at suspicious things.

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