An unemployed 41-year-old man arrested for stealing the bag of a college student who was sleeping aboard a train waiting to depart from JR Tokyo Station is being questioned over 100 similar thefts on trains, police said.
The suspect, Tomoharu Yoshida, allegedly grabbed the bag of a 22-year-old woman at around 6 a.m. on March 25 on a train on the JR Chuo Line. Fuji TV reported that the woman was sleeping but woke up when she felt her bag being pulled away. Yoshida dropped the bag and managed to flee a few hundred meters within the station premises until he was apprehended.
Police said they have beefed up patrols at stations to deal with cases of thefts and pickpocketing that tend to increase this time of year as people return home inebriated from cherry blossom and job retirement parties. A police officer saw Yoshida run off the train and thought something was suspicious. He called out to Yoshida who took off his shoes and ran a few hundred meters while barefoot. He was detained at a nearby ticket gate and arrested on the spot.
Yoshida has denied the charge and was quoted as saying, "I was only trying to return the bag to the woman after it had fallen off her lap in the train."
Police said that since the beginning of this year, more than 100 similar thefts of bags have been reported on Chuo Line trains, and police are questioning Yoshida about his involvement in those cases.© Japan Today