Police on Wednesday night arrested an unemployed 37-year-old man suspected of stealing smartphones from individuals who use their mobile devices while walking (dubbed "smartphone walkers" by Japanese media).
Keiji Tanaka, a resident of Taito Ward, is suspected of stealing at least 12 smartphones from pedestrians near JR Uguisudani and Akihabara stations since Nov 13, TBS quoted police as saying.
According to police, Tanaka snatched a smartphone from an 18-year-old woman in Iriya at around 11:30 p.m. on Wednesday. He was stopped by a police officer shortly after. When the police officer asked him about his smartphone, Tanaka said he had found it, TBS reported.
In the case of the earlier thefts, eyewitnesses said the perpetrator often wore sunglasses, a mask, a baseball or knit cap. He would ride up on a bike and then grab the phone out of the hands of the "smartphone walker."
As the proliferation of smartphones users has continued to explosively increase, so too have the issues surrounding individuals walking and using their phones simultaneously. Pedestrians glued to their phone screens are often oblivious of their surroundings causing them to frequently bump into other people, or even to drop their phones from train station platforms.
Police say such distracted individuals are an easy target for smartphone thieves and are asking residents within the greater metropolitan area to exercise caution on their day to day commutes.© Japan Today