New service pays 'bounty hunters' to catch shoplifters and train gropers

By Ben K, grape Japan

Are you living in Japan and strapped for yen? A new service and website created by Insotsu Inc called Bounty Hunter might be of assistance.

As the name implies, the service allows members of the general public to become "bounty hunters" eligible for cash rewards in return for doing things like stopping shoplifters and train gropers.

Insotsu is trying to market this service to shop owners in their press release, with the headline: "Your shop will become a no-shoplifting zone. With Bounty Hunter, we propose an anti-shoplifting measure that will end up costing you zero yen." They also created this very convincing promotional image to drive the point home.

Text: You'll be astonished. The deterrent power of this anti-shoplifting measure is amazing. Photo: Graphs | © PIXTA

The press release explains that the number of shoplifting incidences in Japan has been growing, and now exceeds 100,000 a year. Therefore, stores which seek to combat this problem and protect themselves from losses can use "Bounty Hunter" to create a strong deterrent force. Security systems and gates which detect unpaid items can be very expensive to install. Bounty Hunter provides an inexpensive if not free solution for shops in which regular shoppers are incentivized to catch shoplifters in exchange for a bounty. Then, the shop can then bill the shoplifter for "anti-shoplifting expense" in a sum equivalent to the bounty in order to recoup their costs.

The following poster is presented as an example for shop owners to alert customers and potential shoplifters that they use the Bounty Hunter service.


The person shopping next to you could be a bounty hunter.

When do they make their rounds?

Who is a bounty hunter?

Even the shop staff doesn't know.

We immediately report shoplifters to the police.

Shoplifters will be required to pay for the items and billed 30,000 JPY for various expenses incurred in apprehending them.

Do you want to become a bounty hunter?

Register at

Moreover, the release also suggests that private individuals can use Bounty Hunter to catch chikan (train gropers) and those who commit other kinds of harassment or nuisance in public. Presumably effective in cases when victims have been repeatedly targeted by the same groper, Bounty Hunter can provide a solution for victims who may not have the courage or wish to avoid the potential danger of confronting the groper.

Registering at reveals one shop in Saitama using the service so far, and no anti-groping missions yet, but we can assume more missions of that nature will be appearing shortly now that the press release has come out. In the meantime, there are plenty of missions listed for finding things and providing various other services. There's even one for a private English tutor.

If you're interested, head over to Bounty Hunter and register.

Source: SocialWire Co Ltd

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© grape Japan

©2023 GPlusMedia Inc.

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Protecting women "train gropers"

Stopping store thieves.

Next step:

Protecting women from stalkers.

Protecting Granny's from phone scammers

Good Luck!:

-2 ( +7 / -9 )

This is not a good idea. If this idea does take off it won’t be long before these bounty hunters start to get killed by the desperados they are trying to stop.

-6 ( +5 / -11 )

This is not bounty hunting, its policing for profit. The number of incidents where the "perp" vehemently exclaims she does not know how that item got into her purse is going to rise. And when its learned that scenario accounts for 80 percent of one "profit policeman's" accusations, don't say I didn't warn you. Also, if you have seen pictures of a long handed groper, you might also wonder if one is going to try his hand at making some cash the next time the poor guy between him and his victim gets accused. Anyone who thinks secret police is a good idea should just move to North Korea and have them waiting.

21 ( +24 / -3 )

the number of shoplifting incidences in Japan are growing, and now exceed 100,000 a year.

That's 280 incidents of shop lifting a day.  Considering the size of the population it is extremely low count.  Quaint even.

16 ( +17 / -1 )

Right, and what happens when the person looking to make some money accuses a person wrongfully and screws up that persons life? Does this site also insure against false accusations? I highly doubt it.

Just accusing someone here of a crime is often times enough to ruin them and this potentially makes this worse!

26 ( +27 / -1 )

As the name implies, the service allows members of the general public ...

How many times in your life have you actually witnessed someone shoplifting?

As the picture implies, can an individual make a stack of cash doing little? I think not. If you are an otaku you could do this 'bounty hunter' as a hobby, very slow hobby bt there ain't no way you could make a living.

12 ( +12 / -0 )

members of the general public to become "bounty hunters"

This is not a good idea. Also, because these individuals are not employees of the government and if someone they are “trying” to stop gets hurt, won’t this open them up to lawsuits of assault and personal injury?

Also, on the opposite side. What happens when you try to stop someone and get hurt. I doubt you are considered an employee of the maker of that service so does it now fall all on you?

Too many potential problems with the service.

12 ( +12 / -0 )

In Japan I hear customer is King. So for me to walk into a store and the first thing when the business sees when they look my way is a thief is disheartening. I already have enough weird shopkeepers following me around just because I don't look the same and so the assumption is made I'm going to be the one lifting something. I'm the one who fits the stereotype, not the Japanese jiji that has been getting bad press in the paper.

Now I'm going to have bounty-hunter 'customers' follow me around? No thank you. If that is what I see happening, I'm out of there. My own personal policy is not to do repeat business with these kinds of stores with almost no exceptions!

5 ( +6 / -1 )

The only thing dumber than this idea is a shopkeeper who asks this company to provide services.

8 ( +10 / -2 )

I once tailed a young man when I saw him putting a box of goodies under his shirt. He was wearing an oversized shirt but if you really look at him there's something bulging under his shirt. I just decided to wait for him near the cashier. He was about to go to the cashier when our eyes met. He turned around and when he came to the cashier's lane again, I noticed there's nothing under his shirt anymore. I kept on looking at his other side thinking he might have put it differently. I was at his back and I saw his wallet is better looking than mine. After he went to the bagging table I whisper to the cashier that that man had something under his shirt a while ago. And the man literally run after hurriedly bagging his groceries. And I thought that it was the end of it. The next time I went shopping there, someone seemed to be following me around. And I noticed that for several times. That's why even if I saw someone doing the deed, I don't inform anybody ever again. What are their cameras for? Just like yesterday, there was a couple, a man and a woman in their probably 40's who kept on coming and going inside the supermarket with practically nothing on their hands. How I do I know? I was waiting for my son to fetch me for a good 30 mins. sitting on a chair near the powder room.

6 ( +6 / -0 )

When you monetise such a thing, you create unnecessary problems.

For example whats to stop a registered ‘bounty hunter’ approach a shopper and place something in his/her bag or pocket, and then catch the person when they leave the shop having not paid for said item?

This dumb idea is literally creating an incentive for people to do that.

The same goes for groping on trains - a ‘bounty hunter’ works together with someone willing to get close to someone and shout ‘chikan’ and they can make some money.

This already happens somewhat (settlement money rather than reward payment), but it will happen a whole lot more.


11 ( +11 / -0 )

Doesn't North Korea has a similar system, where you don't know who's an informer?

8 ( +8 / -0 )

Good comments above.

I once followed a bus groper and took his name off of his entranceway along with his address and proceeded to the local police box.  They wouldn't take a report because I wasn't an affected person.  I do wonder what the police think of this service.

9 ( +9 / -0 )

Omachi - I once followed a bus groper and took his name off of his entranceway along with his address and proceeded to the local police box. They wouldn't take a report because I wasn't an affected person. I do wonder what the police think of this service.

I’ve caught upskirt videographers five times in the act. The first time I grabbed him and called the station staff, who then called the police. He was interrogated and let go within 20 minutes. I was held for two hours. They called the company I worked for, my wife, city hall and the Australian embassy, all the while treating d like a criminal. At the end of it all one of the Japanese cops cops said to me in English, “Stay out of Japan business.” I never tried to apprehend one of these perverted children again. A good nudge in the shoulder is enough to let them know they are busted and they will run away like the cowards they are. Although, one time, I walked up to the pervert on the platform and asked him to show me the photo. His face went white and he ran away.

Foreigners should be very careful how how they interact with Japanese, especially if a crime is involved.

15 ( +16 / -1 )

Cue lots of false accusations and related incidents.  Letting unqualified and perversely incentivized people loose oon ther general populace is a recipe for disaster.  And seems to me the scale of the issues it purports to be targeting are pretty insignificant also.

7 ( +7 / -0 )

Many supermarkets use what are commonly called Manbiki G-men (many of whom are women). They often work in pairs posing as customers as they cruise the aisles keeping an eye out for suspicious behavior. They are paid professionals, who know what signs to look for, might be familiar with local repeat offenders, and know how far they can go in apprehending shoplifters, etc. Combined with the security camera footage, they provide the needed info to the police that are called by the store manager.

This new service might not cost the supermarket but I wonder about a lot of the details like how long will the bounty hunters be willing to hang out at the supermarket hoping for a strike (making themselves look suspicious in the process), and then when lucky, how long will they have to stay after the police come to testify to what they saw? This strikes me as the Uber of security services.

4 ( +4 / -0 )

A quick look at their home page: seems like you have to register before being able to read details of the shoplifting hunting system? And the bounty listed is ¥10,000, so apparently the store keeps ¥20,000 of the fee the shoplifter is required to pay. And what happens if they are not successful at getting that money out of the shoplifter? And do they have to wait until the suspect is convicted in court?

2 ( +2 / -0 )

And can people who don’t read/write/speak Japanese do this “work”?

3 ( +3 / -0 )

And can people who don’t read/write/speak Japanese do this “work”?

This is wide open to misunderstanding.

Just accusing someone here of a crime is often times enough to ruin them and this potentially makes this worse!,

So of a person is wrongfully accused by somebody short of cash they will be arrested, held for 23 days, forced to confess, automatically denied bail, and the guilty assumption rubber stamped in court.

Japan is indeed becoming a very dangerous country.

4 ( +4 / -0 )

I’ve caught upskirt videographers five times in the act.

DotheHustle - better to film him filming up her skirt. Then show him the video and ask for hush money. Take his wallet, photo his id. Give wallet back. Then email evidence to the police.

1 ( +2 / -1 )

This is a known scam and now they want to make it legit? Two people on a train claim one person touched the other, the other says they are a witness, pull them off the train and demand money not to report them.... While I applaud the effort I hope it gets implemented correctly.

10 ( +10 / -0 )

I saw a woman in our university convenience store shoplift a bar of chocolate. She was older and looked like an office worker or professor. She bent down, picked up two chocolate bars, dropped one into her bag which was open on the floor next to her, and the other she took to the register. It seemed very practiced. I was kind of in shock and even though I had seen her clearly I still didn't say anything to anyone...just in case I was mistaken in some way. This is the problem..its going to take absolute certainty before you stop someone. This is the same with train gropers. I have seen many men pushed up against women unnecessarily, where they have plenty of space around them. But is that enough to call someone out? There are many problems with this proposal.

3 ( +3 / -0 )

Why use a foreigner in the advertisement??!

11 ( +11 / -0 )

I can already see this causing a lot of problems. First of all: how exactly will they apprehend shoplifters? Because going about that with bravado can cause a big commotion, frighten people, and potentially hurt businesses. Another problem is that some shoplifters already arm themselves, and so then this press release will only encourage shoplifters who aren't already armed to do just that, which will undoubtedly lead to bloodshed. It could even lead to a hostage situation, with a desperate shoplifter holding a pregnant woman or a child etc at knife-point. Likewise, catching gropers will also be problematic and could lead to violent confrontations. Groping incidents are more common on crowded trains, where it's virtually impossible to tell who the chikan is (and so they believe they can get away with it). Spotting a groping incident in such conditions will be very difficult. More often that not, an innocent person would be falsely accused. As already happens.

While I don't disagree with the basic concept, the idea hasn't been properly thought out. It seems too confrontational at the moment, which can only lead to violence. For dealing with shoplifters, it would be better to implement better quality CCTV cameras and facial-recognition technology, and to hand the shoplifter's details to the police to deal with, rather than encouraging vigilante action. I suppose these Bounty Hunters could use their smartphones/GoPros etc to record shoplifting incidents, but encouraging them to confront doesn't seem smart. The groping one... I've said before on this subject that the best way to reduce the incidents is through education and understanding. Other methods that have been suggested so far have always been flawed, with the biggest flaw being that they can be deliberately misused. Even then, education and understanding won't solve the problem completely. I don't know if anything can, really.

1 ( +1 / -0 )

The authorities need to sort out Japans appalling legal system, and rule of law, before employing vigilantes to do it for them.

8 ( +8 / -0 )

Mizu no Oto

How many times in your life have you actually witnessed someone shoplifting?

A few.

Three times I can think of off hand, the last being a few weeks ago, they were foreigners/immigrants too.

How's that for racial profiling. True but I imagine the morality police won't allow me to state who.

May be the Japanese ones are just better at it, or don't stand out so much?

Another good argument against niqabs! Yup, true case.

I don't know if it is a thing in Japan at all, I certainly have not seen it, but overseas certain demographics have this thing of picking up stuff and eating it in a supermarket, and then hiding the wrappers somewhere in the store.

It's still theft but you would not want to collect the evidence.

-3 ( +1 / -4 )

A for-profit secret police force combined with a guilty until proven innocent injustice system? What can possibly go wrong?

10 ( +10 / -0 )

Train gropers to catch shoplifters?

1 ( +1 / -0 )

100.000/year is really not a high number. Also, implementing such a „service“, you don’t have to wait long for the scammers. Especially in the case of chikan, where false accusations are already well known of.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

Saw a lass not so long ago opt for the five finger discount in a pharmacy in Amagasaki. Rather bold the way she she did it. A moderately expensive cosmetic product which I might add was on display outside the store. She promptly put it in her bag unbeknownst that I observed the whole act. Informed the shop staff who then approached the woman in question - brought her back to the shop and the rest is history. The pharmacy must be a glutton for punishment as they never changed how they display their pricey goods. God knows how much the've lost in revenue over the years.

1 ( +1 / -0 )

I am sceptical that this is a good idea. How are these self-declared part time cops going to enforce their service? Would like to see more details about how this is supposed to work.

3 ( +3 / -0 )

Beyond stupid.

groppers and shoplifter are a totally different demographic and different MO.

biggest prob for Conbini owners (according to my franchise owning friend) re shoplifting is Japanese high schoolers. Especially girls!

groppers tend to be ... Just weird sad men.

4 ( +4 / -0 )

I get followed around all the time. It is so obvious during the winter or when it is raining outside.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

I have had a funny experience by deliberately putting myself between a chikan and a young woman/girl to stop him.

Boy, he was so upset.

Forget trying to catch them, just give them a little frottage back.

Even better if it's hot and your armpits are at full steam.

2 ( +2 / -0 )

I won’t enter a store where I see that sign due to the risk of being falsely accused and hauled off to a police interrogation session so someone can make money. Scary stuff....especially as a foreigner (case in point/ Ghosn vs. Saikawa)

5 ( +5 / -0 )

Lol. Lots of legal action coming then! In one famous UK food chain, they now prefer to monitor the staff for thefts rather than the customers. A lot has to do with the law. You can get sued for physically 'stopping' someone. Technically, it can be 'assault'. I think it's dumb, but there you go. What if someone grabs me and I fall over and break my leg? Law suit. What if I'm innocent and I'm acqused of theft in front of people, which then damages my 'reputation'? Law suit. And so on... Good luck with that business!

4 ( +4 / -0 )

OOhhh, get paid to do the police's work? Another way to make the police even more useless? sign me up.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

If this becomes a thing, there should be a "bounty hunter" hunter, where rogue bounty hunters are caught.

3 ( +3 / -0 )

New service coming soon: personal bodyguards to protect you from bounty hunters.

7 ( +7 / -0 )

Bounty Hunter luck, the perp is a shoplifting, English teaching chikan. Pay day.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

Lol, the entire premise of the "bounty hunter" getting his/her payday is based on the assumption that an accused person is going to just readily pay the "fee" before being arrested/convicted of a crime.  And as others have mentioned; many Japanese would-be criminals weapon of choice are bladed weapons.  If this company's flawed business model doesn't put them out of business straight away - the first bounty hunter stabbing surely will.

1 ( +1 / -0 )

I'm pretty sure this will be shut down by the real police pretty soon, since it is nothing more than vigilantism.

Shops can't extort 20,000 yen from people they believe are shoplifters. That is what the courts are for.

This is just such a bad, bad idea.

If you happen to notice a shoplifter, a train pervert, or other crime, your one and only job is to call the police to intervene, and that is only if you feel comfortable doing so in the first place.


Bounty Hunter can provide a solution for victims who may not have the courage or wish to avoid the potential danger of confronting the groper.

is also not a solution.

Not confronting the chikan includes no one else confronting them, either. Very often women who prefer to ignore the chikan don't want any attention paid to them, and that would likely mean they will not accept help and will not testify even if the police are summoned.

If you see a girl in distress, first ASK HER if she wants/needs help. If she nods, makes eye contact, says yes, THEN you can step in. You should not try to force her into a situation where she will feel even worse.

A real solution to the problem of chikan is teaching boys and men to have some respect for women in the first place.

3 ( +4 / -1 )

A real solution to the problem of chikan is teaching boys and men to have some respect for women in the first place.

I find it highly insulting, frustrating and just plain infuriating that you think that is not already happening in spades. You are just asking for the same thing that is not working to be done harder.

Sorry, neither this profit police idea nor brow beating men to respect women even more than they already do is going to work. Besides, respect is earned, not brow beaten in.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

Seems like nothing more than a scam.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

If you see a girl in distress, first ASK HER if she wants/needs help. If she nods, makes eye contact, says yes, THEN you can step in. You should not try to force her into a situation where she will feel even worse.

Am I the only one who thinks that making eye contact with a woman who is being groped by a pervert is extra creepy?

I mean, I've seen those videos.

How do you know if you wants help, wants it to stop, or wants you to join in?

-1 ( +0 / -1 )

I can see a scam already, some one signs up to be a plastic cop, arranges with a mate to walk into a shop pretend to steal an object, then he walk out of the shop, his mate then shouts "stop thief!" but he's put the object back,,, lots of fuss and a big commotion out side, police are called, etc etc, but item is not found, ( no theft ) man sues shop for embarrassment, distress etc, ( compo in the form of shut up money) plastic cop gets sack, move to next store and repeat.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

Its troubling, for a prank, or to make a quick buck, someone could pick up an item from the shop, and drop it into an unsuspecting shoppers bag (if open), then wait to pounce as they pass through the checkout, proclaiming that the person was stealing an item, and claim the reward... easy money right ?

I agree with the other comment comparing this to North Korea, also China, where you're encouraged to report on even your own Family members. To drive this home in Japan, it smacks of the "Kenpeitai" (Military) or "Tokko" (Civilian) version.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

@Do the Hustle - totally 2nd your statement. It's best to avoid getting involved with troublesome issues here in Japan, lest you be dragged in too.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

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