Police officer in trouble over handling of serial bike theft case

TOKYO —

A police sergeant in Tokyo is being investigated after four other officers filed complaints against his handling of a serial bike theft case.

According to police, in an effort to nab the person stealing bikes in Tokyo’s Ota Ward, the 51-year-old Denenchofu police station sergeant took it upon himself to take an abandoned bike and plant it in an area where a potential thief might easily be able to steal it, TBS reported. There, he would camp out hidden from sight, hoping to catch a glimpse of the bike thief. 

However, despite having camped out on nine different occasions, the police sergeant did not make a single arrest or uncover a single lead. Furthermore, during the time of his stakeout, three more bicycles were stolen in the area.

The police sergeant, who stepped down from his post on Friday, said he felt he had to do something because the ongoing police investigation into a series of bike thefts had not turned up any leads.

The sergeant’s subordinate officer also received a strict warning for having taken part in the incident. 

Japan Today

  • 21

    ham21

    At least he tried to do something. Probably the thief knows the area and spotted the officer waiting. Technology what it is, are the police so poorly financed that they cannot place a tracking device in a bike?

  • 13

    Iwandabaka

    Bait bike? Sounds like a good idea. What's the problem?

  • 2

    oikawa

    Don't believe it, was just talking to 2 friends last night who had both been arrested for riding busted up, obviously abandoned old bikes, they'd found on the side of the road in the same area around Nakano, and who were both stopped just metres after finding the bikes. I jokingly said they might have been planted and low and behold..

  • 15

    hereforever

    Either something is missing from this article or the police department is really screwed up. My applause goes to the sergeant for trying. 32 years here and I still can't understand this country! Give him his job back and a bonus for thinking about the public!

  • 26

    spudman

    Give him his job back and a bonus for thinking about the public!

    He broke Japanese protocol by (a) coming up with a solution by himself (should have been in a committee lead by a nearly retired geriatric leader and (b) not enlisting at least 10 fellow police officers with neon batons, 6 squad cars and two cameramen on the stakeout. He must have been eating bread for breakfast instead of rice and miso soup, which accounts for this very western behavior.

  • -3

    Himajin

    Nine times in the same place should have been a clue that where he was , wasn't where the bikes were being stolen from, in fact as the article clearly states, bikes continued to be stolen while he was 'on watch'.

  • 8

    Trapped

    This is the kind of copper who deserves a promotion. I wish there were more like him.

  • 12

    Mirai Hayashi

    Why are they complaining. What was he suppose to do? Take a nap in the kobans like the rest of them do? I totally respect his efforts..let him stay! Let him stay!

  • 4

    cl400

    This story is cute. Sounds like something a Japanese Batman would do.

  • 3

    Gaijin Desi

    This is called Fishing... this method is commonly used by Cops in other part of World. Nothing wrong in it.

    There, he would camp out hidden from sight, hoping to catch a glimpse of the bike thief.

    but I can not guarantee when two words 'JCOP' and 'Hidden' came together.

  • 1

    Frungy

    This story seems strange. The only thing I can think of was that maybe the "abandoned" bike wasn't police property and so technically the police officer wasn't entitled to move it?

  • 8

    Skeeter27

    The simple problem here is the standard operating procedures or SOP of the Japanese police and the laws they themselves have to follow. By planting the bike and hoping to catch somebody this would be considered entrapment! This kind of police work is illegal in Japan! I actually did not know that entrapment was illegal in Japan until a few years ago.

    Even police trying to sell drugs to catch people that use drugs is illegal same rule applies here, planting a bicycle hoping to catch someone that will take it it's illegal it's entrapment...

    That said I don't really feel what he was doing was wrong, he was trying to catch a thief!

  • 7

    marcelito

    I guess the other officers had no choice but to file a complaint about him and force him to step down. I mean what if someone upstairs noticed this and reckoned cops taking initiative to catch thievefs is actually not a bad idea.? Then they might all be forced out of the comfort and warmth of the Koban to do some real work on the streets.heaven forbid. Can't have that. Better get rid of the troublemaker real quick.

  • 0

    HighLama

    four other officers filed complaints against his handling of a serial bike theft case Would be interesting to know what are the plans of these other officers to nab the thief.

  • 1

    smithinjapan

    "However, despite having camped out on nine different occasions, the police sergeant did not make a single arrest or uncover a single lead."

    And the four other police got the guy or guys? Shouldn't they file complaints on themselves? I'm quite sure had the officer in question SEEN the person stealing the bikes he would have nabbed said person. No one else has nabbed him or is doing anything to try, so should all the police have to quit?

  • 8

    bruinfan

    Here' s the problem— he was thinking outside the box...

  • 1

    wowyz

    "Here' s the problem— he was thinking outside the box"

    I like that one...gives me the idea:

    Keystone thinking outside the bento box...

  • 5

    Bad2Dbone

    "The nail that sticks out, gets Hammered "

  • 0

    syzyguy

    the reason this sergeant got busted is because in 80% of bike theft cases the culprit is a city worker who steals the bike and brings it to the bike lock up so they can get their 3000 yen recovery fee. the police get their kick-back and the bike lock-up crew stays in business. the sergeant was a threat to this successful business model obviously...

  • -1

    gogogo

    There are no entrapment laws in Japan?

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Entrapment

  • 0

    darknuts

    @gogogo This is not a case of entrapment.

  • -1

    Mariam Tebourbi

    the four who filed a complaint against him are losers!

  • -1

    Knox Harrington

    I love that of all you people commenting, only Skeeter was the one understanding the problem. It doesn't matter if it's good the officer is taking initiatives - he has to follow the law. Otherwise, what's the point of having a police force? Plus, he was probably let go because the incredible non-issue this crime was, stealing bicykles... Pff.

  • 0

    DudeDeuce

    When I came to Japan a few years back, they dud the same exact type of stakeout near my place. They placed a bicycle on the sidewalk and the cop was undercover in the park pretending to be an old guy practicing his golf swings.

  • 0

    wontond

    This is what you get for thinking outside the box.

  • 1

    Strangerland

    Apparently entrapment is illegal in Japan, so the police cannot run stings like this.

  • 2

    valekt

    @Knox Harrington

    "Plus, he was probably let go because the incredible non-issue this crime was, stealing bicykles... Pff."

    Say that to the person whose 300,000yen road bike gets stolen. Ignoring the value of the bikes, this is theft of someone else's property and that, to you, is a non-issue? When I was 18, I moved into a flat, and the first night of staying there, my brand new pair of shoes was stolen from the front door step. Felt like crap, to be honest, and it makes me wonder how people can feel at ease taking something of someone else's, and claiming it as their own.

  • -1

    Himajin

    'Thinking outside the box' perhaps shouldn't include roaming around to find abandoned bikes, and taking them to other locations. Seems a little stupid, doesn't it? He could just as well have staked out the location they were most commonly stolen from, no?

    I read a Japanese article that said that the number of suspect questionings at his Koban were fewer than average, he wanted to boost his numbers.

  • 1

    lostrune2

    Just put tracking device on several bait bikes, like they do bait cars.

  • -1

    Knox Harrington

    valekt,

    If this guy used paid time or even worse, overtime to go on his little guerilla adventures, he is using funds that could have been spent in a much more useful way. He could have hung out at some of Tokyo's many sidewalks and throw the book at one of this city's many inept cyclists, for example. Also, coppers have, and should follow, procedures.

    Just put tracking device on several bait bikes, like they do bait cars.

    Yeah, that would be totally worth it. Teacking devices on bikes, come on...

  • 1

    StormR

    The problem was that he actually went about trying to solve the crime using detective work and observation skills which resulted in putting the rest of the police in disgrace, here the police normally don't go about solving crimes in such a manner.

    They lie in wait at the koban for the culprit to come in and give himself up making a full confession and disclosing more crimes than the police even knew about. This policeman broke the unwritten code, lie in wait at the cop shop not hidden in some bush.

  • 0

    Magnus Roe

    syzyguyNov. 24, 2013 - 12:16PM JST the reason this sergeant got busted is because in 80% of bike theft cases the culprit is a city worker who steals the bike and brings it to the bike lock up so they can get their 3000 yen recovery fee. the police get their kick-back and the bike lock-up crew stays in business. the sergeant was a threat to this successful business model obviously...

    You're probably being funny, but this isn't a business model since the collection is generally less than once per month and has absolutely no effect on anything whatsoever. The best thing to do would be to spray a bicycle with a marker on first offense and sell or recycle it on the second.

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