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Theft arrests up; crime goes down

Date Posted: 2006-12-28

Life is becoming more complicated for habitual thieves, who are discovering police are tired of their antics.

Arrests are up 30.8% in Okinawa this year, as police created a special task force, and also began tracking suspects between jurisdictions. The task force, dubbed “Stealing Offensive Operation Measures Room”, is already being credited with reducing thefts by 22.2% in 2006. Burglary arrests total 1,379 for January through November, a three percent increase according to police.

The reduction in thefts totaled 245 for the first 11 months of the year, and police say there is more to come as habitual criminals are removed from the street and more time is spent tracking gang activity.

Police cite a case in Yomitan, where the SOOMR and local police had teamed to keep a habitual criminal under surveillance for two months. It paid off, as the man was surrounded and captured by police after he’d been observed robbing a house while residents were away.

The thief has confessed to 207 thefts across the central and southern parts of Okinawa over the past three years. Similarly, police say ten others arrested in recent weeks cleared more than 60 theft cases.

Police are targeting young gang members, typically 18-23 years of age, who are engaged in stealing motorcycles. Official reports document ¥28 million in 303 motorcycle thefts during June, July and August. A motorcycle sales shop manager was arrested after he was found selling 30 stolen motorcycles. Officials say more than 230 cases resulted in losses-damages of ¥22 million.

Undercover investigations are expected to rise in 2007, officials say, because the increase in arrests, and removal of thieves from the streets, leaves more time to target remaining criminals. An investigator with SOOMR says habitual offenders are careful and skillful, but his task force is “persevering in its investigations, and we certainly can get arrests and never let them get away.”

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