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Police baffled by bizarre guard rail theft spree in Chiba

By Casey Baseel, SoraNews24

There’s crime spree going on in Chiba Prefecture, with thieves making off with over 200 items within the past three months. The criminals aren’t going after precious stones, luxury cars, or high-end electronics, though. No, their target is roadside guard rails.

Over a roughly two-week period (January 25 to February 10), Chiba’s Road and Environment Bureau says that 13 guard rails on national and prefectural highways have been stolen, along with 42 curved “end terminals,” as the pieces at the end of a rail section are called.

▼ An end terminal, circled in yellow

Image: Pakutaso

The thefts have also been happening on city-administered roads in Chiba. Since the start of winter, the towns of Abiko, Inzai, Kashiwa, Sakura, and Shiroi have collectively had 13 guard rails and 133 end terminals stolen. Add it all up, and the total comes to 26 rails and 175 end terminals, with the collective damage being roughly 1.5 million yen.

With theft of any kind being relatively rare in Japan, Twitter commenters have been started by both the quantity and class of stolen goods, reacting with:

“Guard rails can be stolen…”

“What kind of nut job does that?”

“Someone really creepy.”

“I don’t even think the average person would know how to remove one.”

“It’s not the sort of thing you could do with the sort of tools you’d just happen to have on you when the opportunity presents itself.”

Since guard rails’ size and weight would make them hard to carry off by yourself, the police suspect that more than the culprit isn’t an individual, but likely a team of criminals. No speculation has been offered as to a motive, but the thieves going to the trouble to take so many bulky items suggests there must be some sort of value to them, and plans to resell them as scrap metal seems the most likely explanation.

Weird as the crimes may be, though, they’re still crimes, and also a matter of public safety, since guard rails tend to be installed on, you know, places where there’s though to be a higher chance of cares sliding off the edge of the road. In response, the police are planning to increase patrols, and there’ also talk of refining the terminal ends’ conduction to make it harder to remove the bolts that anchor the end pieces to the rest of the rail.

Sources: Sankei News via Livedoor News via Jin, Twitter

Read more stories from SoraNews24.

-- Happy ending for Japanese man whose sports car was stolen right before his eyes

-- Japan’s ninja museum has been robbed by thieves in the middle of the night

-- Most Japanese theft ever? Chainsaws taken to flowering cherry blossoms in Osaka

© SoraNews24

©2024 GPlusMedia Inc.

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Guess those guard rails aren't really guarded well afterall

12 ( +12 / -0 )

Have a look at the state of that road in the photo! OMG!

7 ( +7 / -0 )

Next month's train social ethics promo - "Don't steal End Terminals!"

5 ( +5 / -0 )

A metal umbrella stand and a metal bicycle rack disappeared from the front of my home a couple of months ago. A small white open truck had parked in front that morning for a minute or so. When I went out later I noticed the bicycle rack was no longer there.

5 ( +5 / -0 )

I never thought theft this brazen would happen in Japan, but then again we sometimes see truckloads of produce being stolen from farms in the countryside. I'm guessing that they'll sell these rails for scrap? I agree with Philip though, you can probably pay someone with this, liquidating it will be difficult though.

4 ( +4 / -0 )

DisillusionedToday  09:02 am JST

Have a look at the state of that road in the photo! OMG!

I'm further south in Chiba, but... I ride a lot out in the sticks.... such states of disrepair are not by any means uncommon.

4 ( +4 / -0 )

then there seems to be the value of the metal.

that was my first thought. you can resell metal for some serious cash

3 ( +5 / -2 )

Caught one of those trucks with muddy plates patrolling neighborhoods for ‘unwanted’ items. The driver’s assistant was ‘inspecting’ the condition of a neighbor’s bikes while the family was out. They nervously smiled and drove off. Police explained they were perhaps a ‘volunteer’ community service doing a ‘courtesy’ check and no further inquiry was needed.

3 ( +4 / -1 )

Anyone who has been here a while likely remembers that scrap metals prices went high when china was building up for their 2008 games. Here in Japan items made of steel were disappearing all over the place, prime targets were those steel grates at the end of driveways, on top of storm drainage along roadsides etc.

It all ended up in containers to china, was so bad the Customs expedited getting the larger xray machines for scanning inside 40ft containers to try to stem the thefts etc

Once china finished construction, demand dropped & prices dropped & the theft stopped

3 ( +3 / -0 )

They need to start guarding rails?

3 ( +3 / -0 )

Sold for scrap. Quick cash from unscrupulous ‘recycling’ centers “on the take”, so to speak.

2 ( +4 / -2 )

Is there a port in Chiba that docks foreign vessels?

I used to party with a young Russian guy in Sendai who couldn't find a good job in Russia after school so he got a job boosting cars and driving them onto Russian ships in the port.

I can't imagine a Japanese scrapyard would take guardrails from some random Japanese dudes. And that sort of thing is above the Yakuza.

2 ( +2 / -0 )

Metal has value and metal theft happens widely, but the problem in this situation is that a) Japan is rich and there is little profit to be made and b) someone somewhere would have noticed random guardrails coming into their processing plant.

2 ( +2 / -0 )

It’s probably on its way to the black market in China.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

You would think there would be a camera somewhere close to a guard rail that had footage of the perps or the vehicle. I imagine if you sifted through enough data, you would find the same vehicle driving around at roughly the same time late at night. Its not like we are talking about a busy highway here.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

A few season of snow damage. most snow effect roads end up like that. There plenty in the north. As for the railing? There is not many ways to utilise railing other the heavy construction. I am thinking maybe a cattle yard , retaining wall or concrete form work. It’s purpose stolen. It has no other value.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

it is quite obvious those single lengths are 50 kilos x 52 yen per kilo

0 ( +0 / -0 )

Yes, that’s only a question of money distribution…They’ve printed so much money, but gave and still give it only to the very top or to those who already have most of it. If it would have been distributed only a little bit more widely even those guys could buy themselves at least anything small and almost worthless, including -if ever really wanted- such guard rail end terminals. lol

-1 ( +1 / -2 )

@toshihiro. You are right.

there is kind of a seasonal occupation for desperate poor or yankee types. There is the melon season, strawberry, apple etc. in between, there is the bicycle, cans and scrape metal etc. stealing cars and breaking them down for parts to Russia involves Yak fees. A Russian guy I met a few years ago in Toyama told me the bribe here is very cheap, but for a Second hand RAV4WD, stuffed with car parts, Russia authorities charge $2500.

life is getting hard here in Japan.

-2 ( +1 / -3 )

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