Retailer decides not to post suspected shoplifter's face online

Retailer decides not to post suspected shoplifter's face online

TOKYO —

A major anime goods and manga retailer, which posted a message online giving a shoplifter one week to return a stolen Tetsujin-28-go robot toy worth 250,000 yen or it would post a photo of his face taken from security camera footage, decided not to do so on Wednesday after the deadline passed.

The case generated a lot of interest among Japanese media and online where people were both for and against the decision by the store, Mandarake, to strike back at shoplifters.

However, a Mandarake spokesperson said police had asked the company not to expose the suspected shoplifter’s face online, TBS reported Wednesday.

The store, located in Tokyo’s Nakano district, said the robot was stolen from its 4th floor at around 5 p.m. on Aug 4. After the theft, the store examined surveillance camera footage and spotted what appeared to be a man putting the robot into a bag. It then posted the image online with the suspect’s face blurred out, with a message stating that he had one week to return the robot or his unpixellated face would be posted.

The deadline was Tuesday night, but the robot was not returned, TBS reported, adding that the blurred photo has also been removed from Mandarake’s website. Early Wednesday, a message on the home page said: “In accordance with an official request from police, we will not be exposing the suspect’s face.”

A police spokesman said that posting the photo and warning online had impeded the investigation.

Japan Today

  • 1

    Mirai Hayashi

    Why are they being so "considerate" to this thief? Was it an inside job?

  • 0

    gogogo

    Boring, expose the scum

  • 17

    Speed

    The police seem to be an impediment to catching criminals rather than the other way around.

    He stole it so I say show his face. The dude stole something worth 250,000 yen.

  • -5

    some14some

    Mandarake should change shop name to "Usodarake" for not keeping the promise.

  • 0

    roughneck

    WOW! This is a news!

  • 6

    ReformedBasher

    Why are they being so "considerate" to this thief?

    One problem is - what if other people look similar to him. And have nasty things happen to them?

    Very big problem.

  • -1

    GalapagosnoGairaishu

    When NHK reported this yesterday, they also released figures for shoplifting by juveniles in bookstores, and while the theft at Mandarake was extreme, the annual nationwide figure is mind boggling. Some shops report losses of up to 100,000 yen per month. But this problem has been around for at least a decade, and apparently the industry has decided it was too troublesome to take proactive measures. It's pretty clear that BOOK-OFF and other chains that deal in used merchandise are unknowing fences for the stolen merchandise.

  • 0

    tinawatanabe

    Of course the police want to catch the thief by themselves, not by public.

  • 1

    Nessie

    Mandarake should change shop name to "Usodarake" for not keeping the promise.

    How about Nusumidarake?

  • -4

    Duck of Wellington

    I guess its okay to make an empty threat of exposure to a thief. Actually putting the footage up could come with some serious legal repercussions.

    If the person is caught, the value of the item may well influence sentencing. It also tells us the seriousness of the crime. Again, I question whether the numbers the store put on the price tag are anywhere near the actual loss suffered by the store, as in, how much the store paid to acquire the item. 250,000 for a toy robot sounds ridiculous.

  • 9

    senseiman

    I am a little confused as to how publicizing the photo of a criminal suspect could in any way, shape or form impede a police investigation into the crime.

    Doing exactly that through wanted posters, etc is, after all, one of the main ways in which police identify and catch suspects after all.

  • 3

    CH3CHO

    The police is to blame.

  • -16

    CGB Spender

    Stealing is a petty crime. Nobody should be stigmatised for the rest of their life for that.

  • 2

    fds

    unfortunately, my understanding is that the company could be exposed to defamation claim for publishing his face. wrong if you ask me. especially in a society where haji has been one of the primary means of social control.

  • 3

    Rik314

    As tinawatanabe suggests, this pre-empts work done by the police. Which is usually inept. It is not taking the law into your own hands. It is, in fact, giving this guy a chance to redeem himself. Y250,000 is not 'petty'. Have you ever had Y250,000 cash in hand? Regardless of how you feel about the real value of such items, it was a potential Y250,000 denied to the store and he may well on-sell for a substantial amount. He may also be a habitual 'lifter'. I applauded the store for taking this stance. As a 30yr plus resident I have seen far too much slip by because of lax police work. Now it is in the ham-fisted hands of the police...

  • -4

    SenseNotSoCommon

    What we can rely is that this "unconnected" suspect will get jail time, not a suspended sentence.

  • -2

    Tessa

    Some shops report losses of up to 100,000 yen per month.

    My student works on the costume jewellery counter of a dept. store, said that during the school holidays the store suffers about 200,000 yen a week in losses.

  • -1

    Richard bHard

    Why not show the thief's face!!?? If they really wanted the item he stole putting his image out there might be their best bet,unless they don't want it back. The image looks like a guy in his forties who still lives with his mom and probably spends most of his time reading manga and eating curry in his underwear.

  • 2

    Nessie

    I am a little confused as to how publicizing the photo of a criminal suspect could in any way, shape or form impede a police investigation into the crime.

    Surplus of bogus info, maybe.

  • 3

    Mike Critchley

    They should instead give the police a deadline -- OK, we complied with your police request not to reveal the perp. So you have a week to find this guy and recover our property or YOU can pay the 250,000¥.

    Name and shame the guy!

  • 1

    FightingViking

    Well at least I'm pretty sure he won't be showing his face in that shop again ! When my son was (part-time) working in a supermarket I went to bring him something he'd forgotten and saw a couple of schoolgirls being taken to the manager's office - for shoplifting. Pity they didn't catch this one red-handed !

  • -2

    Duck of Wellington

    Y250,000 is not 'petty'.

    No its not. The question is, is that amount legit? If its not legit, then the theft may indeed be petty in the eyes of judge not so easily fooled.

  • 2

    Mike O'Brien

    Stealing is a petty crime. Nobody should be stigmatised for the rest of their life for that.

    Robbing a bank is just 'stealing' on a larger scale. So I guess bank robbers shouldn't be stigmatised, tight CGB Spender?

  • 2

    Argus Tuft

    @senseiman

    I am a little confused as to how publicizing the photo of a criminal suspect could in any way, shape or form impede a police investigation into the crime.

    A defense lawyer could say that by publishing the photo a jury of lay-judges would be unduly influenced to convict a suspect who resembled the man in the photo.

  • -12

    CGB Spender

    -5... wow I don't want to life with anyone here in earlier centuries where peasants act like a lynch mob and yell 'hang him! hang him!' at a suspect they've heard only rumours about.

  • 0

    kaimycahl

    THIEF!!! Regardless when these worthless scum bags steal it hurts everyone because the stores recoup their cost by raising the cost of good to the pay public, so why is the public crying? Are they going to continue to support these idiots!! I can't stand a thief!!!

  • 0

    khulifi

    Shoplifting is a good business in Japan ... One day at a big chain supermarket I saw a suspicious man between the shelves ... he took 2 bottles of drink ( S-cup ) and put them in his bag and moved away ... I informed the cashier lady ... she did not bother and did not care ... it seems to me very normal every day events for her ...!!!

  • 1

    Serrano

    "A police spokesman said that posting the photo and warning online had impeded the investigation."

    How so?

  • 0

    CoconutE3

    When there are no consequence to a bad behavior, then this behavior is repeated, in worse case even encouraged, meaning that more criminals will be shoplifting. The store made it worse for themselves and other stores by not following through.

  • 1

    smithinjapan

    CGB Spender: "wow I don't want to life with anyone here in earlier centuries where peasants act like a lynch mob and yell 'hang him! hang him!' at a suspect they've heard only rumours about"

    No one is saying hang him, they are saying publish the photo -- which is not at all the same thing. And "only heard rumors"? or only seen a picture of the guy doing it? Also VERY different things.

    Anyway, I cannot for the life of me figure out how this would impede investigation in any way whatsoever -- if anything, it could generate potential leads where the police would have none unless they hire hundreds or thousands more police to go around and look at anyone's face and trust there will be no problems with recognition (as seems to be the concern with allowing the public to see it).

    I CAN see a problem with people thinking they might recognize the guy when it's someone else, but how's that different from any wanted posters or pics out there? In any case, the guy called the shops bluff, and the shop lost... for now.

  • -7

    Nenad Jovanović

    Simple, he didnt stole money, but he stole a toy, and frankly, seeing how hard time s are in Japan, this person did probably not for living, but rather for his kid, or he is just lonely otaku, who wanted to have that robot, in any way or another, is shows person who have problems in his life, and frankly, I also understand the stance of police, because revealing the face, would risk the image of the persons associated with this fellow ( if he have family ) or on other hand, even force him to do suicide , so, in any way or another, the damage done by revealing the thief face would be greater than the stolen robot is worth , as I say, the man dont have the use of that thing , unless he got a child, or he is otaku with no money .

  • 0

    M3M3M3

    Any adult who is interested in stealing a 250,000 yen robot action figure for their own enjoyment will probably have grounds to plead not guilty by reason of insanity...

  • 1

    Educator60

    The item stolen is not just an ordinary (but expensive) toy. It is a rare vintage/antique collectors' item. It is possible but probably not likely that someone stole this because he was too poor to buy toys for his kid/s.

  • 1

    danalawton1@yahoo.com

    What good are the cameras if you're not going to use them to their fullest extent. Japanese retailers should band together to pass a law... allowing them to Post photos of obvious thefts. They should also be working on Facial Recognition alerts... basically share information... if a thief walks into any story with the recognition cameras and software... send an alert to the people working there.

  • 0

    Laotian in Sapporo

    Ok.. if that is what you should do to catch a thief in Japan.

  • 1

    sfjp330

    Article states: "what appeared to be a man putting the robot into a bag."

    Problem is that Police are not 100 percent sure he took it. It might be hard to prove. If it turned out to be a wrong person, and he end up losing job, his reputation, you will be in for a lawsuit. Store has to defend it, and it will cost substantial for legal fees.

  • 1

    senseiman

    A defense lawyer could say that by publishing the photo a jury of lay-judges would be unduly influenced to convict a suspect who resembled the man in the photo.

    I dont think that argument would hold any water - youd be able to use the same argument against wanted posters after all. And line-up identifications. And eye-witness descriptions. Actually its such a broad argument you could use it against almost any piece of evidence identifying a suspect, to the point of absurdity if you were to apply it in cases like this.

    Plus the lay judge system is quite different from a common law jury system - professional judges sit alongside the lay ones and more or less guide the decision making process.

  • 1

    Argus Tuft

    @senseiman

    Wanted posters are different to evidence submitted in a trial - which is what this photo would be. Eyewitness testimony ,line up identifications and the like -are- in fact subjected to this argument in court.
    That's why convictions come from physical evidence and confessions, much harder to dispute those..

  • -3

    kaimycahl

    @Nenad JovanovićAug.

    Are you saying its worse if the THIEF stole money but its ok to steal a toy for his child? What a sad excuse!! Is it to say because some people are having hard times in Japan, those who are should go out and steal and this is perfectly ok??? Then you said he probably didn't steal this for a living that doesn't indicate from your statement the THIEF was having hard times, the meaning would simply be he stole the toy for good times not fora living, Even if he has a child or was lonely and otaku, he should get a job and save for his desire. LMAO you wrote revealing his face, would risk the image of the persons associated with this fellow ( if he have family ) or on other hand, even force him to do suicide. He should get a life and understand CRIME DOESN'T Pay if you can't do the time don't do the crime. If you don't want shame on your family name then don't commit the act!! Is shame of his family name more important or the robot. If he steals there goes his family values somewhere he got this idea my belief is of you work hard study hard you will get your just rewards!! I can't stand a THIEF he is worst than a liar!!

  • 1

    senseiman

    Wanted posters are different to evidence submitted in a trial - which is what this photo would be. Eyewitness testimony ,line up identifications and the like -are- in fact subjected to this argument in court. That's why convictions come from physical evidence and confessions, much harder to dispute those..

    Right, except that in this case the video is in effect being used as a wanted poster and it is that use, and not its potential use at trial, that seems to be driving the police objections.

    True though, in Japan almost all convictions are based on confessions. Which kind of reinforces my confusion over what is wrong with what Mandarake did - if this type of evidence isn`t particularly useful at trial then why the objections? This is more a general rhetorical question rather than one directed at you.

  • 0

    Balefire

    I will be very interested to see whether the police, having prevented the shop from revealing the possible perpetrator's face, are in fact able to catch the thief. I'm not holding my breath.

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