Police Evacuate Residence After Second Phone Seized

The Yomiuri Shimbun
Investigators are seen at a house where a robbery-homicide took place in Komae, Tokyo, on Sunday.

Police are guarding an evacuated Tokyo residence after the address was found on the second smartphone the police have seized in connection with a string of robberies in the Kanto region, police sources have told the Yomiuri Shimbun.

The robberies include the case of a 90-year-old woman in Komae, Tokyo, who was murdered on Thursday. The police were led to the homicide by information such as the address of the victim found on a smartphone seized earlier and used by a suspect in a separate robbery.

According to police, this first phone was used by a 23-year-old Self-Defense Forces member, who was arrested over a robbery resulting in bodily injury that took place on Jan. 12 in Oami-Shirasato, Chiba Prefecture. When the Chiba prefectural police analyzed the phone, they found a message titled “work” on the Telegram messaging app that included the address of a residence and the times residents were there. Upon receiving the information on Thursday afternoon, the Metropolitan Police Department dispatched officers to the residence and found the body of the woman, Kinuyo Oshio.

Information on Oshio’s residence was also found on a smartphone seized in connection with a robbery-assault case that took place in Nakano Ward, Tokyo, in December. Additionally, the phone contained information on an address in Adachi Ward, suggesting that a robbery was going to take place there, according to the sources.

The MPD concluded that the residence in Adachi Ward could be targeted, so they deployed officers to the area to strengthen security and evacuated the residents to ensure their safety.

The second phone was found in a rental car used by Rikuto Nagata, a 21-year-old suspect who was arrested Saturday in the Nakano Ward case, but Nagata, from Kanazawa, was quoted as saying that it was not his phone.

Hidden actors

The Yomiuri Shimbun

Since December, there have been a number of robberies and thefts targeting residences and stores in Tokyo and five neighboring prefectures. In just the six days between Jan. 9 and Jan. 14, a total of seven cases occurred.

The MPD arrested three 19-year-old men on Jan. 17 and 18 in connection with the robbery of a jewelry store in Shibuya Ward, in which showcases were smashed with hammers and 29 items worth about ¥2.7 million, including necklaces and earrings, were stolen in the early hours of Dec. 16.

The three men, who were arrested on suspicion of theft, were allegedly involved in more than one case in the series of robberies. Like the SDF suspect, they were instructed by someone through Telegram about what methods they should use and other matters. One of the men was quoted as saying that he had been in need of money, so he responded to a recruitment ad on website for illegal activities and got the other two to join him.

The MPD believes that there are people directing the crimes who pay the perpetrators recruited through the website and have them commit robberies.