crime

Kyoto taxi drivers reduce convenience store robberies by 48% by doing absolutely nothing

17 Comments

Throughout 2014, Kyoto prefectural police began an initiative having taxi drivers and late-night convenience stores work together to reduce incidents of armed robbery. Although still early, the program has so far been rousing success, leading to a 48% decrease in convenience store robberies compared to the previous year. They also get extra points for giving it the cool name of “Midnight Defender Strategy”.

■ Vigilance through hanging out

In every convenience store you are likely to see a line of people at the magazine rack reading entire manga volumes and issues of Vogue. Such free reading is allowed because, in a roundabout way, these people are helping to guard the store by keeping it from emptying out.

However, these readers are usually your average students and office workers who have to go home at some point, leaving the stores without any loiterers to protect them. It’s during this dangerous window of 10 p.m. to 7 a.m. that most convenience store robberies occur.

This is where the humble cab driver comes in.

■ Midnight Defenders

In Kyoto, about half of the convenience stores had signed on for the Midnight Defender Strategy. These 500 or so shops hung posters with slogans such as “vigilance strengthening” written on them in their windows. These signs are indicators to taxi drivers that they are allowed to park there as long as they like during breaks. The stores lose a few parking spaces in the process but gain some extra eyes which may be enough to deter a would-be bandit from making their move.

Since the program started in September 2013, the number of armed robberies among participating stores dropped to four compared to 18 in the previous year. On the other hand, the shops which were not in the Midnight Defender Strategy saw an increase in robberies, up from seven to nine incidents compared to the year before. Overall the total number of robberies was nearly halved in the prefecture.

Police are clearly happy with the results and the shops are also pleased with not have knives waved in their faces, with one manager commenting: “Having the drivers around for any amount of time leads to a sense of security. Our midnight staff especially thanks them.” Taxi drivers are also pleased with the arrangement. “It really helps to have a guaranteed spot to park for breaks,” said one, “and I’m happy to contribute to crime prevention too.”

It appears to be a win-win-win situation for all involved, and if the number of robberies continues to be low we can expect to see the Midnight Defender Strategy pop up in other prefectures across Japan.

Source: Yahoo! Japan News

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17 Comments
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Sounds like a great common sense solution. Taxi driver gets a spot to park. Probably ends up spending money at the store so both sides come out ahead

20 ( +20 / -0 )

Beautiful Japan, where 18 incidents are news. How I admire that country and its people!

13 ( +15 / -2 )

Agree MapleG, although I would like to know if there has been a rise in non-convenience store robberies as a result as the thieves will most likely move on till they find another target of opportunity.

3 ( +4 / -1 )

For all my displeasure about various aspects of Japan life, I have to compliment the taxi drivers who are usually courteous, informed and professional.

14 ( +14 / -0 )

@reckless, that's one of the things I like in Japan. In my home country most taxi drivers are in cohorts with robbers or hold uppers themselves.

6 ( +6 / -0 )

Great concept, other business should adopt a similar concept to combat crimes.

2 ( +2 / -0 )

What about letting young punks hang outside their stores until early in the morning.

-4 ( +1 / -5 )

could just close the stores. do we really need them in the middle of the night?

-11 ( +1 / -12 )

Anyone see a problem here?

Quote: "Since the program started in September 2013, the number of armed robberies among participating stores dropped to four compared to 18 in the previous year. On the other hand, the shops which were not in the Midnight Defender Strategy saw an increase in robberies, up from seven to nine incidents compared to the year before."

Subtle pressure to join? Why would you not join? Less parking space in town?

-5 ( +1 / -6 )

wouldn't CCTV be just as effective?

-4 ( +0 / -4 )

wouldn't CCTV be just as effective?

No.

CCTV can be defeated by use of a simple disguise (i.e. covering the face) - unless you have city/area-wide surveillance.

The point of the scheme isn't to have someone watching, it's to create a sense of extra security. Even if there's only a 10% chance a taxi driver might intervene physically or by calling the police, most criminals won't take that chance. They're usually cowards at heart, which is why they prefer vulnerable targets when no one else is around.
2 ( +2 / -0 )

It's actually a very good idea. Well done !...

2 ( +2 / -0 )

no wonder we can't get a cab, the guys take too long a break at the convenience stores. Just kidding great idea, makes me feel safe by having someone around other than just the employees at the store. At least it keeps the creeps from trying to mug the convenience store customers outside the store and the cab driver if awake may see something not captured by the CCTV.

0 ( +1 / -1 )

The cabbies must be happy for the restroom break.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

just let convenience store staff to have a gun, we already have the proof that giving guns to anyone reduce crimes significantly (source: USA) especially the ones perpetuated by the police against anyone they don't like.

1 ( +2 / -1 )

Not sure why I got minus 4 above. Did I offend someone? I was just suggesting a reason why some convenience stores might not want to join what on the surface looks like a very good scheme, even attracting extra crime into the bargain. If for example your store is near the station and you only have a three-space parking lot, then you may not want taxis sitting there blocking it up, discouraging regular drivers from dropping in. What other reasons might there be, I wonder?

-1 ( +0 / -1 )

@jhagen:

Surely, you jest.

@ nandakandamanda:

From my recollection of Kyoto, none of the conbini near Kyoto Station have off-street parking, so they're unlikely to be able to join this scheme. In fact, most conbini in central Kyoto are devoid of off-street parking, and those close to suburban stations usually have no off-street parking, either.

But those same conbini tend to be in well-lit areas, with people milling around even in the wee small hours.

It is the other conbini, away from the bright lights and in the suburbs, which have off-street parking, which are more susceptible to late-night attempts at robbery in that they are more isolated. For them, this scheme must be attractive.

-1 ( +0 / -1 )

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