‘Dark’ Part-Time Jobs: Ringleaders behind Robberies Must Be Identified Immediately

Robberies and other crimes continue to be committed by youths recruited through social media to work “dark” part-time jobs. To break this cycle of heinous transgressions, it is essential to uncover the ringleaders behind them.

According to the National Police Agency, a total of 70 robberies and burglaries involving youths working in such jobs have occurred in 22 prefectures over the past two years. A total of 154 people have been arrested, but most of them merely carried out the crimes —the people who actually gave the orders have not been fully identified.

Four suspects, including a 16-year-old boy, were arrested in May after a group of masked individuals broke into a luxury watch store in Ginza, Tokyo. One of the suspects was being pressed for money by a gang member, who suggested his involvement in the robbery. The suspect invited acquaintances and others to join him in the crime.

The suspects were instructed via cell phone and other means about which stores to hit and how to do it, and they did as they were told. One said at his trial, “I thought I couldn’t get out [of committing the robbery] because an organization was involved,” and it is believed that a group of ringleaders was behind the offense.

The young men who applied for the dark part-time jobs were merely “sacrificial pawns” to be discarded. Unless the ringleaders and instructors are tracked down and arrested, such incidents will not cease.

In the robbery cases that have continued since last year over a wide area, three men who are believed to be ringleaders and who went by “Luffy” and other names, have been arrested. Based in the Philippines, they are said to have used a highly secretive communication app to direct the crimes.

The decisive factor in their arrests was that police were able to locate their overseas hideout and successfully recover the instruction messages using the latest digital forensic technology.

Cooperation with overseas police forces and the improvement of digital analysis capabilities will undoubtedly become even more important in the future. Police also need to cooperate with the private sector and increase the number of personnel trained in cutting-edge technology.

The Ginza robbery occurred three months after the arrest of “Luffy” and others. This means someone else was directing the Ginza heist. There must be multiple rings behind the string of felonies.

It has been suggested that dark part-timers were previously recruited to commit new types of fraud, but because this area has become less lucrative due to improved crime prevention measures, robberies have increased as a quick way to get money.

The situation is extremely serious — in some cases, victims have been attacked and killed. The people planning these robberies must be caught immediately. Technological and legal issues must be identified, and countermeasures must be taken as soon as possible.

“High rewards” are offered for the dark part-time jobs, but the perpetrators do not actually receive any remuneration and face severe penalties after their arrest. Young people who casually apply for these jobs must be made to realize that it is not worth it.

(From The Yomiuri Shimbun, Oct. 29, 2023)