crime

Police arrest wrong woman for supermarket theft

59 Comments

Police admitted Tuesday that they had mistakenly arrested a woman in her 40s in January for a theft she didn't commit at a supermarket in Adachi Ward last Dec 20.

According to police, a woman stole a cordless iron and 14 other items worth around 32,000 yen from a supermarket by putting them in a shopping bag and leaving without paying. When the woman attempted to leave on her bicycle, store security approached her and she abandoned both the bicycle and the shopping bags and fled.

Police used the bicycle registration to call the home of the woman who owned the bicycle, but her husband told police she said the bicycle had been stolen. After analyzing security camera footage of the incident and hearing testimony from the store's security staff, investigators determined that the woman in her 40s was the thief and arrested her on Jan 26.

The woman denied the charges, and police released her the next day, after another woman, aged 39 -- who looked similar to the woman arrested -- was nabbed for trying to shoplift at a store.

On Tuesday, police issued an apology and promised to conduct their investigations more carefully.

© News reports

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59 Comments
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police issued an apology and promised to conduct their investigations more carefully.

Paraphrasing. "we'll beat the confession out quicker next time"

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I don't what's worse, that they arrested her due to bike registration, in a country where bicycle theft is commonplace, or that it took the real thief getting caught in the act to let her go.

One wonders how long they would have held and interrogated her had the real thief not been caught.

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This is not certainly the first time they have arrested and try to indict someone innocent. I feel sorry for this lady.

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Go Jcops!! Can't they do anything right? Was the bicycle registration information in the notebook that got stolen from the other cop playing pachinko?

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They had CCTV video, interviews and witness descriptions of shoppers and store security and they had a person matching that person with a bicycle registration. In the UK the police would have made an arrest based on this information, since they rely so much on CCTV out there.

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****When the woman attempted to leave on her bicycle, store security approached her and she abandoned both the bicycles and the shopping bags and fled. Don't know about the keystone cops but whats wrong with the store security hightailing after the woman. Surely the woman who escaped wasn't flo-jo and ran like a roadrunner. Stop bagging the keystones (although they do deserve it) and start looking at the store security for not doing his/her job.

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incompetant much?

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that's pretty much like a doctor amputating the wrong leg of a patient... apology isn't enough...

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Again, if the same evidence was given in other countries including the US, the evidence given would of met probable cause for arrest.

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I agree with K-smile. Keystones are worthless and make too many mistakes.

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Ho were they keystone cops? Again I know JapanToday posters LOVE to bash the Jpolice and justifiable at times too.

But BASED on the evidence given to them at the moment, they were justified under the law to make an arrest in pursuant to an ongoing investigation. Again, if the situation as described was given in other countries too, an arrest would have been done.

Now the outcome of that arrest and the continuance of the investigation would be different, and if they did prosecute and convict this person based on that evidence alone (eg not finding the stolen products etc) then that would be grounds for criticizing the criminal justice system.

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If the bicycle was never reported to be stolen, j-cops did nothing wrong by arresting. They had enough evidence and were right.

But, what was so wrong with j-cops that they took a month to apologize for something they can justify. Or, are they trying to mock Mr. Toyoda? That's wrong!

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Criminals take note: The Japanese Police always get their woman -and security cameras are everywhere.

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LOL @ badsey!!

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Badge213 at 10:13 AM JST - 24th February

Ho were they keystone cops? Again I know JapanToday posters LOVE to bash the Jpolice and justifiable at times too.

Google it, Sherlock, and while your there, Google FINGERPRINT EVIDENCE,

its elementary...

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No sir, Fingerprint Evidence is not required to make an arrest. Conviction maybe, but not initial arrest in pursuant to an investigation.

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its elementary... That's right, they had witnesses, they had a description and they had a bike, all matching the description and owner of the bicycle. Sherlock holmes would of made an arrest based on that evidence as well. Arrest is not the same as conviction. Now someone might go into how japanese police and prosecutors conduct interrogations and convictions and this poor lady would be at the wrong end of it, but that's not the topic at hand.

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so, Asian women beware? If all of you look too much alike you may be unjustly arrested for someone else s crime. Nice. Sorry, but sometimes it gets annoying when innocent people get blamed for something they did not do and what if something had happened where she had to spend some time in jail? What if they didn't catch that other lady, would she have been "prosecuted" to the full extent of that law? Imagine the embarrassment and the potential for losing her job (if she had one) and the family grief. Just kind of sad to hear these things.

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The keystones had 35 days to check the evidence for FINGERPRINTS or DNA before this false arrest occurred. F the police.

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If they didn't catch the other lady doing another crime, the innocent lady would have gone to jail and her life ruined but the police would have a closed case.

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Stupid Japanese police.

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Classic Japanese police work. Find anyone who sort of matches the description of the person, then demand that they did it until they confess.

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guest, DNA evidence for shoplifting? Man you've been watching too much CSI! Also it wouldn't matter because DNA is only on file for those who have committed crimes before and have that data on record. Notwithstanding DNA, Fingerprints etc is not a required element for an initial arrest. They might be required for conviction and prosecution, again that is another issue.

Again how is it stupid, based on the evidence presented they were justified in making an arrest, the same evidence presented in other countries would of lead to an arrest as well. Prosecution and convictions is a whole separate matter, and that isn't the topic at hand.

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how can they check fingerprints for shoplifting or even dna people watch too much CSI. A bike registered to the womans house which hadn't been reported stolen. Eye witnesses and cctv which all match the description if they hadn't arrested her they would have been stupid. Unless she had an air tight alibi but the story doesn't mention it

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If they find your stolen bike and you have already bought a new one, and do not want your old one, you have to pay 500 Yen.

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No sir, Fingerprint Evidence is not required to make an arrest. Conviction maybe, but not initial arrest in pursuant to an investigation.

You are absolutely Correct, Fingerprint evidence is NOT REQUIRED to make an Arrest... But Did this women need to spend the night in Jail...? Because of something, that would have taken 15 minutes to determine...? Absolutely NOT!

Ok, you have the bag full of stolen goods, and you have the women they suspect. You can get two samples of fingerprints here....No problem... And you have results with an hour... This isn't rocket science...

Catching someone in the act is one thing, Yes, you catch someone fleeing the scene of the robbery, and it doesn't take much to make an arrest, BUT going to someone's home, the next day or when-ever it was and dragging them to jail is quite another...

Only in J-Cop land... If it was a guy, he'd still be in Jail, and the police would still be insisting he did it, trying to force a confession out of him... Thank God for the SOFA...

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guest, DNA evidence for shoplifting?

NOPE, FINGERPRINT EVIDENCE is more then enough, you had 35 days to investigate...

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Remember to report your stolen bicycle immediately. The J-Police do bicycle stop and ID checks to look for "suspicious" characters (usually petty burglars, vagrants, and...bicycle thieves). Personally - despite the rhetoric - I like the J-Police (even the ninja traffic cops who have an amazing ability to hide in broad daylight in full uniform - but can pounce out of invisibility at various high traffic violation locations...absolutely amazing!).

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how can they check fingerprints for shoplifting or even dna people watch too much CSI. A bike registered to the womans house which hadn't been reported stolen. Eye witnesses and cctv which all match the description if they hadn't arrested her they would have been stupid. Unless she had an air tight alibi but the story doesn't mention it

I really have to wonder about some of these people...? It's always the first remark, "Oh, you've been watching too much CSI! Ha ha ha"

Do you have any experience in law enforcement? Did you even graduate from HS? Do you have an ounce of common-sense in your head?

And, if you ever wondered, the TYPE and Severity of the crime also comes into play when making an arrest, especially, if not something they catch a person doing in the act... This isn't suspected murder, this is suspected shop-lifting.... BIG DIFFERENCE.... But then would you expect any different from J-Cops, who place illegal Bicycle parking in the same category as murder-one!

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quest, fingerprints, dna, etc is not required for arrest. How would fingerprints helped at a supermarket, there are fingerprints everywhere. Also (for japanese) the fingerprints would not be in the police databanks unless they did something before. Again it is not required for arrest.

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mindovermatter, great posts as always.

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Do you have any experience in law enforcement? Did you even graduate from HS? Do you have an ounce of common-sense in your head?

Yes to your questions, but no need to take it personal.

What I am saying is under the law they were justified in making an arrest. Of course people want to just blame the jpolice for everything including global warming. I understand the Jpolice does stupid stuff, the Japanese criminal justice system is screwed up, I even admit that. I get stopped for bicycle checks for no reason too. I KNOW that some Jcops are incompetient.

HOWEVER, comments like "stupid keystone cops" are from people who just like to complain about every single thing the police do. I'm just saying looking at the facts presented, the police were justified in making the arrest. You or I might not like that fact but they had enough evidence to do so.

Also it is a fact that there is something called a "CSI Effect" that hinders criminal prosecution in the united states. People do in fact watch too much CSI and wonder why the "real" police cannot do what they saw on television.

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I understand the Jpolice does stupid stuff, the Japanese criminal justice system is screwed up, I even admit that. I get stopped for bicycle checks for no reason too. I KNOW that some Jcops are incompetient.

Badge213, with all due respect..are you living in Tokyo? Because I'm living in Ibaraki and I've never been stopped by the j-cops, probably because I'm driving an RX8 and they think twice before pulling any crap on me, plus I don't do anything reckless that merit to be pulled over. I feel angered though that people get stopped on their bikes over nothing, I wonder if they do this on normal j-civilians as well.

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If it was a guy, he'd still be in Jail, and the police would still be insisting he did it, trying to force a confession out of him..

Not true! You know a guy would never have left the bike. We don't give up thing we steal!

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J-Cops at it again, eh? Well, I guess this is better than the police getting caught stealing underpants and/or raping a woman, although of course not so for the woman in question here. I have no doubt that she would not have been let go had the other woman not been caught.

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How would fingerprints helped at a supermarket, there are fingerprints everywhere.

The fingerprint search has just been narrowed down: two shopping bags, 13 items inside them bags, and a bicycle.

You've got the brain for police work of this caliber, scope, and magnitude.

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any real investigating going on?

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quest, fingerprints, DNA etc are direct evidence, arrests do not require direct evidence. The direct evidence could be used later clear the ladies name if it went that far.

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On Tuesday, police issued an apology and promised to conduct their investigations more carefully.

If only I could hope the police would learn something out of this case.

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I'm guessing fingerprints weren't taken because the merchandise was immediately returned to the store and re-stocked. The bicycle probably didn't have good prints because I imagine a bicycle rider in late December is wearing mittens or at least gloves while riding.

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The woman should be thanking her lucky stars that the real thief was stupid enough to shoplift again and get caught.

They probably did have enough for an arrest. (although the whole bike registration thing is pretty flimsy considering that bikes are stolen almost as often as umbrellas here) What I wonder is why it took them over a month to arrest someone. All they did was check the bike registration, check the surveillance footage and interview the security staff. That seems like awfully slow police work to me.

'police issued an apology and promised to conduct their investigations more carefully'--This statement is the most worrying. Of course false arrests can happen anywhere but in Japan, I don't think they have any structures in place to help correct their mistakes. Even wrongful convictions don't seem to be investigated. That is disturbing.

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I've never been stopped by the j-cops, probably because I'm driving an RX8 and they think twice before pulling any crap on me,

From the urban dictionary: "Penis car" - Any flashy, expensive, and/or fast car that a man uses to make up for his small cock.

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Morons. What is with the keystone cops here?!?! Every experience I have had with them leads me to believe that they are a collection of lazy, clueless buffoons who are mostly suitable for giving directions only.

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tkoind2: always right on the money! LOL

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tkoind2: Essentially, yup. You'd better hope that criminals in Japan aren't getting wise to this stuff, because the cops certainly aren't getting any smarter.

Poor woman. I'm just glad they caught the real thief... hopefully.

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.............More excellent police work by those exemplary JP's .........what kind of tests do they take in order to join the police force???

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Stealing a supermarket? That's badass! Or do they mean "shoplifting"?

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What I am saying is under the law they were justified in making an arrest.

I agree. The problem is equating arrest with guilt. If you're arrested here, you're 90% of the way to prison.

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..police released her the next day, after another woman, aged 39—who looked similar to the woman arrested—was nabbed for trying to shoplift at a store...

Lucky her, what if they failed to catch the real culprit? They will force her to make false confession as before.

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tkoind2~they aren't even good at giving directions anymore because the ones hired over the last 5 years cant even read a map now that they have navi.

called the cops this week when an old man crashed on his bike and was injured. we were less than 500 meters from the koban on the same road no less... they confirmed our location on the 110 call with gps? and it took almost 20 minutes for the imbecile to arrive.. by scooter of course because the ones under 40 cant change gears ; )

dolphingirl, good call on the time... the investigation probably took that long because the boys n blue were busy hassling school girls for registrations on their bikes in order to cop a possible upshot.

met many of kyoto and osaka's finest... the lot of them are worthless at best.

cant imagine what this poor woman had to go thru.... you would think it was rocket science to conduct a basic investigation... I want my tax dollars back ; )

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franky~complaints are the root of positive social change.

when officers here act incompetently, us tax payers have not only the right but the responsibility to call them to the carpet.

arresting someone without clear evidence, denying them due process, investigating something in a haphazard manner and bringing harm to the innocent is outside the bounds of what is acceptable in our modern age and is an affront to the constitution which protects naturalized citizens and foreign visitors alike.

I, for one are not willing to go back a hundred years and change when the upper class could just go out and whack up a hapless villager to test out their katana. the last century has seen japan become a first world country and acknowledge human rights, I am sure that the majority of those born in japan are just as eager to see the process continue.

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The amazing thing here is that with all that evidence, they took more than a month to arrest the woman. I wish the story had been reported before the other woman was arrested because you just know everyone would have been swearing she did it and demanded her arrest sooner. Now they act all smug like they knew the truth all along!

The woman is very lucky the true culprit was caught. I think the lesson to learn here is that if you register your bike and it gets stolen, don't wait around to report it stolen!

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This happened to a friend of mine. He is Indian-British, the CCTV showed some black-looking guy shoplifting and all hell broke loose. He was very upset, but later found it funny. It's not only Japan, Japan-bashers.

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I'm not familiar with the crime rate in that section of Tokyo, but I would imagine an attempted shoplifting case isn't going to be the #1 priority of the police force there. I doubt they spent the entire month on this specific case.

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I enjoy when store security follow me "gaijin", around the supermarkets. I just repeatedly go in circles, it's quite amusing....

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I am not surprised this happened in Adachi ward, the one place where everyone in Tokyo does not want to live. The people living there have the lowest test scores and the crime rate is high.

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Sounds like a super smart thief. She probably stole the bike from the woman because that woman looked like her. Way to go thief!!

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Morons. What is with the keystone cops here?!?! Every experience I have had with them leads me to believe that they are a collection of lazy, clueless buffoons who are mostly suitable for giving directions only.

I 100% Agree. Nuff Said. Everytime I say something about the Keystones, my post gets taken down (>_<)

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I can just see it now, a dozen or so J-cops on the "Catch Shoplifter" special task force! It took them 1 month!? hahahahaha

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