In the aftermath of a series of earthquakes that forced thousands of people to leave their homes in Kumamoto Prefecture last month, police said there have been a string of burglaries of homes and abandoned offices.
Some residents who had taken refuge in evacuation facilities have reported that their damaged homes were robbed when they went back to check. Police said some office buildings had also been ransacked, Sankei Shimbun reported.
In response to these incidents of property invasion, Kumamoto prefectural police have both strengthened patrols and alerted residents, especially in the hardest hit areas of Mashiro and Minami-Aso, as well as Kumamoto City.
According to police, between April 14, when the first earthquake hit, and May 4, there have been 36 reported cases of vandalism and damage from theft at both homes and office buildings in Kumamoto City alone.
In one case, two men were caught in the act of ransacking an empty apartment building in Kumamoto City, when the owner suddenly returned. Police said the two men, who had come from Fukuoka Prefecture, told them they were looking for safes in the abandoned apartments.
Police are urging evacuees, especially elderly people who return home, to lock their doors even if they step out of their residence for a brief moment and to report any suspicious persons to police.
A spokesman for the Minami-Aso police said, “There is an ongoing risk that criminals will continue to take advantage of the aftermath of the quake, so we urge people to be vigilant to avoid falling victims to these thieves.”© Japan Today