Home invasion crime spree sets off boom in demand for home security goods

Photo: Iris Ohyama

"It's certain that more customers have begun purchasing crime prevention goods in the wake of all the media coverage about the recent string of crimes," a spokesperson for Komeri Co Ltd, a Niigata-based of hardware store chain with 1,215 outlets nationwide told Shukan Jitsuwa (Feb 23). 

Sales of such items as window locks, security cameras and sensor-activated spotlights have picked up considerably, the spokesperson confirmed. 

The recent run on crime prevention goods came after the shocking news of an offshore-based gang of han-gure hoods, who are believed to have accessed name directories in order to hunt for potentially lucrative robbery targets. They then farmed out the jobs to three-man teams it recruited via Instagram and other social networks.

On January 19 while investigating a robbery, Chiba police spotted a message on a suspect's smartphone. The message pointed to a possible "job" in Komae, a Tokyo suburb, which included the address of the home to be targeted.

Chiba police quickly notified their Tokyo counterparts, but by the time the Tokyo police located the residence and gained entry at 5:10 p.m., it was too late to save 90-year-old Kinuyo Oshio. A forensic autopsy determined Oshio died from multiple trauma, having been severely and repeatedly beaten. The approximate time of her death was around noon the same day.

According to NHK news, the ensuing crackdown has so far resulted in more than 70 arrests. In addition to home break-ins and robberies, the group was thought to be behind 2,300 cases of fraud worth ¥3.5 billion.

The Philippines has since deported four Japanese suspects, including the alleged ringleader, Yuki Watanabe, aka. "Luffy." The nickname comes from Monkey D Luffy, a treasure-hunting pirate featured in the long-running "One Piece" manga serial.

Blanket coverage of the multiple crimes arranged by Luffy and his subcontractors has set off a stampede by householders wishing to better secure their homes from criminals.

"As several robbery incidents occurred in Tsukuba City, sales have picked up for items that secure windows, particularly antitheft film that is applied to glass panes. Since last year, sales have doubled," spokesperson Mito-based Yamashin, a chain of home centers, told Shukan Jitsuwa.

A source who works for a manufacturer of security goods said that the majority of home robberies and break-ins involve culprits breaking a window and then reaching through the hole to release the locking mechanism.

"If the entire window is covered with antitheft film, the glass is harder to break. In many cases that's enough to prevent armed robbers from breaking in," he pointed out.

"A sheet of protective film measuring 46 x 35 centimeters sells for about ¥1,000 at home centers," the source added. "Films of less than 0.3mm thickness might not provide sufficient protection. Customers should look for products displaying the 'CP' (for crime prevention) certification logo issued by the police or Ministry of Land, Infrastructure, Transport and Tourism. If one sheet's not big enough to cover the entire glass, then people should buy sizes equivalent to A3 or bigger. The glass might break, but if a thief sees that protective film has been applied, that itself might be enough to discourage him."

Then there are devices that stand sentry at a home's front door.

"The antitheft door alarm produced by Asahi Denki Kasei can be purchased for around ¥1,000 or so, which makes it very cost effective," said a person employed by a company specializing in home renovations.

Another inexpensive and easily installed type of device is a "thumb turn guard," which is fastened to a rotary window locking mechanism and sells for as low as a few hundred yen. Likewise is the "One-touch Shimari" from Ito Seisakujo, which is seated inside the inner base of the window frame to block sliding doors and windows from being opened. Price is only around ¥500 each. Then there's the more sophisticated "Dorobo Sensor" from Nomura Tec of Osaka (around ¥2,000), which emits a loud alarm if it senses window tampering.

Women who live alone or seniors might want to consider purchase of a "Voice Changer" device, which electronically converts the speaker's voice over the door intercom into a masculine rumble to hopefully shoo away unwanted visitors.

Iris Ohyama offers a line of battery-powered LED motion sensor lights that sell for around ¥4,000. responds In the anti-crime setting, the bright (400 lux) light emits intermittent flashes. The light can also be set to produce a steady light for a preselectable duration to welcome residents returning home or nocturnal visitors.

Slightly more expensive is an unobtrusive battery-operated trail camera from Ohm Electric Inc that records images onto a micro SD card. When set to the standby mode, battery life is approximately six months The item retails for around ¥10,000.

Shukan Jitsuwa's writer also inquired to SECOM security service, whose spokesperson said customer inquiries were "way up" following the recent string of robberies. "On busy days, we're getting five times the number of inquiries we normally do," the writer was told. 

"We aren't allowed to say we're especially pleased by this development," SECOM's spokesperson continued. "But I do think it's safe to say that home security is shaping up as one of this year's major trends."

© Japan Today

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Yup or even an aggressive cat.

1 ( +2 / -1 )

With inflation and recession, shoplifting and other crimes against property may be on the rise. Fortunately, home invasions are still rare. I've seen advisories to keep the light burning in the toilet, since that's the one room in the house that can be used any time of the day or night. Thieves see it and are hopefully dissuaded from entry. If I go away on a trip, I also have a timer that turns a lamp beside a window on and off for several hours at preset times. Surprised the article didn't mention that.

2 ( +2 / -0 )

Actually, home invasion incidents are lower than in the past. This makes for good propaganda into scaring people into buying expensive home security systems.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

We just don't have them in our location.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

I wonder what time the Tokyo police were notified and how long it took them to locate the residence and get to it.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

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