Vice principal picks up forgotten ATM cash; police pick up vice principal

By Philip Kendall

A middle school vice principle in Tosa, Kochi Prefecture, has been arrested on suspicion of having taken 150,000 yen that had been withdrawn but forgotten by a 45-year-old woman just moments before at a bank ATM.

Eiji Tanaka, 49, was recorded picking up the forgotten cash by security cameras installed in the ATM vestibule at 6:45 p.m. on June 15.

Upon his arrest, Tanaka is reported to have denied any wrongdoing, asserting that he fully intended to hand the money in to the authorities and had not taken to the money with the intention of using it.

Under most circumstances we’d be inclined to scoff at such a futile excuse for an alibi, but the fact that Tanaka’s arrest by police came just hours after the removal of the money from beside the ATM could well suggest that his intentions were pure, and that perhaps the police were a little too efficient on this occasion?

Source: Yahoo! Japan News

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I would like to give the guy the benefit of the doubt.

I hope there is a follow up to this story with the explanation of why the guy waited to do something with the cash before the cops got to him.

Was it on a weekend? Was he going to take the cash to the bank? What were his intentions?

2 ( +4 / -2 )

So touching cash forgotten in a public place is a crime in Japan now? Great, I'll just pretend I didn't see anything rather than help others in trouble (normal behavior here, anyway).

I really can't afford to be arrested and locked up for 23 days for trying to be a Good Samaritan, and then having to prove to family members, business clients, etc., that I'm actually innocent (if the police allow me a phone call, that is. In many cases they don't).

4 ( +9 / -5 )

Jeff Lee, I think you can touch cash for a few minutes. Taking 150,000 yen home with you might be a problem.

4 ( +5 / -1 )

Of course there would be a desire to keep the money, but ive learned that you should never take what isnt yours. So no, i wouldnt keep it.

-2 ( +0 / -2 )

How can you draw out ¥150,000 and forget about it before you even leave the ATM? How far away was the woman when she remembered? Maybe she needs a guardian to manage her financial affairs.

4 ( +7 / -3 )

Not enough information to judge. If there was a koban right next to the ATM and he pocketed the money and walked right past it, then yes I would say the constabulary has a point. But we don´t know that. Maybe he did plan to hand it in as the law requires but did not get around to it.

1 ( +3 / -2 )

The story as given here is, as all too often, insufficient and inaccurate.

Suspect Tanaka took the money at 6.45 pm on June 15.

It seemingly took four months for the police to arrest him, perhaps enough time

for Tanaka to have made greater efforts at going to a police station.

3 ( +5 / -2 )

Great, I'll just pretend I didn't see anything rather than help others in trouble

That's exactly what you should do with other people's valuable items. I can't believe people would pick it up and take it home. Most people would go back to the last place they remember having it but it won't be there if you take it. The only time you should touch it is if you plan to turn it into the authorities IMMEDIATELY.

2 ( +2 / -0 )

It seemingly took four months for the police to arrest him, perhaps enough time for Tanaka to have made greater >efforts at going to a police station.

According to the article reprinted by JT he was arrested hours after, now the Yomiuri news says he was arrested months after. Which is it?

I would figure it was the latter, if you consider the time it takes to pull and review the video and identify the person on the video and to build a case.

1 ( +1 / -0 )

You don't need to take the cash to a koban. There is a phone right in the ATM booth. Call them up and they'll tell you what to do.

6 ( +7 / -1 )

@cleo It doesn't surprise me, people here are always in a hurry and glued to their smartphones

1 ( +1 / -0 )

Well said Moondog. And if there isn't a phone there or if it isn't working... use your own. Question: Are lost items which aren't claimed after a certain period of time offered to the person who found them?

1 ( +1 / -0 )

If it's four months there is of course no excuse and "I was going to turn it in" doesn't cut it.

I had trouble believing the arrest within hours scenario; it didn't seem to fit what I've come to expect from investigations here.

I could sympathize with someone not immediately turning money in to the police though, because of past experience.

Some years ago I found a single 10,000 note sticking out of the slot of an ATM near my office. This was the type of ATM in which the money comes out of a horizontal slot rather than into a bin as is more often the case these days. I suspect that someone in a hurry grabbed the sheaf of bills and one of them stuck halfway when the rest slid out.

I used the phone by the ATM; they told me, unsurprisingly, to go to the local koban.

There was nobody around, so I went to the koban across the street. They told me to go to the local (Mita) police station, a kilometer or so away. I was in a hurry, but I went, and ended up spending over an hour trying to turn this money in. Regardless of my clear explanation, they just couldn't get over their assumption that I was trying to make a claim about money I'd lost myself.

I finally managed to work my way up the ranks of cops on duty until I found someone willing to actually listen to me (a lieutenant, if memory serves), and accomplished what should have been a pretty simple mission.

As he explained apologetically, first there was disbelief that someone would turn in such a small amount of cash, then there was the "gaijin factor". Although my Japanese was error-free, they assumed I must be--with impeccable grammar and pronunciation--mis-stating the facts I was trying to get across.

To be fair, I know several Japanese who have spent as much as a half hour explaining and filling out forms when turning in lost&found items at koban.

So I can imagine someone waiting a couple of hours before turning found cash in, to avoid delays in their schedule. I wouldn't wait, myself, since the person who lost it would presumably be checking with the police as soon as they noticed. But I could understand some delay. "Some" is a couple of hours, perhaps, though, not several months.

2 ( +3 / -1 )

@cl400 Lost items that are turned in are kept for six months and then become the property of the finder. Perishable items are handled on a case-by-case basis, police have told me (I asked about lost&found groceries). Filling out a form with the finder's contact information, and getting exact details of the find, is what takes time, usually. And the police won't take no for an answer about the contact information.

If the item is returned to its owner, it's customary for them to give a reward (typically 10% of the value) to the finder.

There are some exceptions; for example at least one taxi company refused quite adamantly to let me reward a driver who had turned in a cash-filed wallet I'd dropped in his cab. Their company policy discouraged/forbade it. I finally convinced them to take the money even if it meant sharing it out to buy tea/snacks for all the drivers on his shift, but it was a hard uphill struggle to get them to take it.

2 ( +2 / -0 )

If someone forgets cash in the ATM, just leave it where it is. The machine closes automatically after a while and the money goes back into the owners account. No need to take it home or to the koban and no need to make any phone calls.

5 ( +5 / -0 )

@cleo and @brknarm Sometimes people make multiple separate withdrawals for separate uses, wanting to have the distinct records on their bank statements/passbooks. Sometimes (for example with people engaged in small bushiness) there are withdrawals using multiple passbooks in one session. It's not hard to imagine just one of those bundles of money being left on the ATM console, perhaps already inserted into one of those cash envelopes available at the ATM. I often see people juggling multiple cards, passbooks, and purses/bags at the ATM...haste can lead to careless mistakes.

2 ( +2 / -0 )

A few hours and four months is a big difference. If it was the latter, it would be interesting to know if the Vice Principle still had the origninal money and where it was kept. If he didn't have it, then he's completely nailed. If he did, then why did he hang onto it (plausible deniability?). If the latter is the case, he has to be incredibly dumb. It's not that plausible. Also, didn't seem to know or care that ATMs have video cameras.

What a huge career risk to take for a relatively small amount of money. Even in the case that it was only a few hours, in which case he might not be prosecuted, it's still going to have a really bad effect on his career.

1 ( +1 / -0 )

unless the old lady is deaf, for there is a warning announcement if nothing is removed from the machine, even placing objects on the counter will trigger the warning for you to remove!

1 ( +2 / -1 )

As far as I know, if you don't remove your cash card or money from the ATM pocket, a loud beeping noise will sound off except if you leave it next to the machine.

1 ( +1 / -0 )

I try to beat the machine by taking my money and card before it tells me too. You have to be very fast.

-1 ( +2 / -3 )


2 ( +3 / -1 )

i believe this vice principal telling the truth ...

-1 ( +0 / -1 )

actually, if you just leave the cash in the machine, it'll just close up and "retake" the money.

0 ( +1 / -1 )

should have just left it in there i guess...

-1 ( +0 / -1 )

The article says:

150,000 yen that had been withdrawn but forgotten by a 45-year-old woman

megosaa says ( 11:35AM )

unless the old lady is deaf, for there is a warning announcement if nothing is removed from the machine, even placing objects on the counter will trigger the warning for you to remove!

I say:

OY! Watch it sonny!

3 ( +3 / -0 )

So the media will release the name of this man for perhaps trying to help someone out and just not doing it in a quick fashion whereas "minors" can murder people and their name never gets published? Wrong on so many levels.

Finders keepers, losers weepers. More so with that amount. I've always turned things in but of people forget it and lose things, it is nice for society to turn it not. It isn't against the law if they don't.

0 ( +2 / -2 )

There are two facts here, maybe you missed them? The guy was ID'd by the video camera. Means the lady returned to the ATM, didn't find her money, went to a teller and asked for help/ has money been turned in? Answer is No, not turned in, so review the security camera. Then the have to ID the guy, all this time, he is "intending to turn in the money?" I say, and I bet the cops do as well...Bullshit! He only said that because he got...caught! The only person he was trying to help then as now is himself.

-1 ( +2 / -3 )

maybe its true we dont know,many more that did the money without putting in prison

0 ( +0 / -0 )

Finder's keepers. If someone is dumb enough to forget 150K yen, the person who finds it deserves to keep it. This is the real world.

1 ( +3 / -2 )

Are banks open at 6:45 p.m. on Fridays? I'm guessing not. So there was no way for the finder to turn it in to the bank. There was ALSO no way for the police to review the video footage, make an identification, and then arrest the man in only a few hours. On the other hand, there isn't a soul alive who would believe an alibi like that if he allowed more than a day to pass without turning in the money.

This story has all sorts of holes in it.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

The moral intent of his story makes no sense, he still had the funds on Monday when banks were open again, he could have called police and had them pick up the yen and then review the tape. He would have been thought of as a role model for the students of his school, the old woman could have been contacted to recover her forgotten yens.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

This guy is an idiot- Everyone knows that all atms are equipped w/ a camera, and any conbini it is in will have one or two more.

c1400, balefire,

pretty sure the wait is one year? I or a friend had like 2000 Y given to us after turning in a wallet at the po-po, then got the call a yr later.

-1 ( +0 / -1 )

Hope this isn't the direction Japan is headed. And a school principal, for shame!

0 ( +0 / -0 )

More information needs to be provided for this story. Was the money in the slot or was it already pulled out and just left laying there. Also, if the guy wasn't going to spend it, did he withdraw any money out of his own account? That would lead to the fact that he didn't plan on spending the money left behind but was going to keep it and turn it in.

If I were him, i would have just picked up the phone if one was availale or hit the alert button. Or better yet, just a simple "excuse me" to the person who supposedly just left and told her that she was leaving something behind.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

Call 110 on your mobile and tell them you found a wad of cash. The police will come and take it off your hands in a few moments.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

Finders keepers, losers weepers.

Since when is finding money illegal?

-1 ( +0 / -1 )

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