Find Crime Group’s Hidden Leader to Swiftly Bring Full Story to Light

A series of robberies and other crimes involving the misuse of the internet have threatened public safety. The police must hurry to catch the criminal group and determine the full extent of their wrongdoing.

Since last December, there have been at least 10 cases in Tokyo and the five prefectures of Kanagawa, Chiba, Tochigi, Saitama and Ibaraki. The robbers’ methods included breaking into private homes and stores, beating up occupants, and smashing showcases to steal money and goods.

An elderly woman was murdered in a house in the city of Komae, Tokyo, in a robbery-homicide that occurred on Thursday. The woman’s wrists were tied and she was beaten all over her body. The brutality of the crime is unbelievable, and one cannot help but feel outraged.

Similar robberies have also been reported in western Japan. Several criminal groups are believed to be active in various parts of Japan, and many residents must be feeling uneasy. The Metropolitan Police Department and the police in the other prefectures need to work closely together to stop this chain of incidents.

One characteristic of these cases is that the perpetrators were recruited through “underground sites” on the internet.

“I needed money and responded to recruitment on an underground site,” said one of the three men who were arrested over a theft in Tokyo and who are suspected of involvement in other crimes. The three reportedly received plans and instructions on what to do via social media.

The suspects arrested so far, including the three men, are mostly young people in their teens and 20s. One was a serving member of the Self-Defense Forces.

Some of them may have been lured by the offer of a large reward, and responded to recruitment without being aware that they would be involved in crimes that carry a heavy penalty.

It is important to identify and arrest the leader who gave instructions to perpetrators. The perpetrators may not know who that person is. The arrest of the perpetrators alone is not enough, as there is no denying that the leader may recruit other people to commit more crimes.

A suspect arrested over a robbery in Chiba Prefecture had data on his smartphone related to the robbery in Komae. In some cases, there are indications that the criminal group was aware of the victims’ financial situation in advance.

The perpetrators are believed to have committed a series of crimes based on a list of victims’ assets and family structure.

In many fraud cases in which people have been enticed to hand over money, the “receivers” who took the cash were recruited through underground websites. If groups are finding it more difficult to commit fraud due to improved security measures and have switched to directly attacking mainly elderly people, these are truly dark cases.

Is there another mastermind above the leader of the group? How was the list of targets created? Many points need to be clarified.

(From The Yomiuri Shimbun, Jan. 24, 2023)