Teens Arrested over Ginza Watch Store Heist

From a provided video
A robbery suspect in a white mask is seen inside a watch store in Tokyo’s Ginza district on May 8.

Four teenagers held in connection with a heist at a watch store in Tokyo’s Ginza shopping district were arrested for robbery and trespass on Thursday.

The Metropolitan Police Department said the four teens have either refused to respond to questions or said they know nothing about the incident.

The MPD is investigating whether other people were involved as the rental vehicle used in the heist had been hired under the name of a person other than the four suspects.

At around 6:20 p.m. on May 8, 74 Rolex watches and other items worth a total value of around ¥300 million were stolen from Quark Ginza 888.

The robbers, who wore white masks to conceal their identities, allegedly threatened a clerk in his 30s at knifepoint during the incident and smashed showcases to access the luxury items.

The four teenagers were arrested shortly after the robbery on suspicion of unlawfully entering a residential building in Minato Ward, Tokyo.

According to sources, the suspects — an unemployed 16-year-old, an 18-year-old high school student and two 19-year-olds — all live in Yokohama. One of the 19-year-olds is suspected of being in charge during the robbery.

Following their initial arrest, they told police they did not know each other, the sources said. However, analysis of seized smartphones and interviews with related sources have led investigators to believe the suspects were friends, excluding the high school student.

The MPD is trying to establish the connection between the high school student and the other suspects.

The police have confirmed through analysis of nearby security cameras that the suspected robbers made their getaway about two minutes after entering the store and fled in a rental vehicle parked on the street.

The police initially thought the robbers had been in the store for about 10 minutes.

A driver is believed to have been waiting in the getaway vehicle while the robbery was taking place. After the heist, the vehicle traveled through central Ginza, toward the Imperial Palace and past MPD headquarters.

A police patrol car went in pursuit after spotting the vehicle, but lost sight of the suspects.

The getaway vehicle was found abandoned about 15 minutes after the robbery on a street in the Akasaka district in Tokyo’s Minato Ward, about three kilometers west of the watch store.

The four teenagers were arrested nearby on suspicion of unlawfully entering a residential building.

The vehicle used in the robbery had been rented at a car rental office in Tokyo the day before the heist, and the license plate had been replaced with one stolen the same day in Kawaguchi, Saitama Prefecture.

A knife, crowbar, gloves and black clothing were found in the vehicle.

All of the stolen items have been recovered. Some were left inside the vehicle and the remainder were found nearby.