Opportunistic crooks' methods for targeting homes

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It has gradually become obvious that the dozens of homes targeted for robbery since last October by the Manila-based gang of hoods headed by Yuki "Luffy" Watanabe were not picked at random. The recent spate of break-ins traced to Watanabe and his associates has inspired Shukan Gendai (Feb 25) to produce an article titled "These are the kinds of homes that thieves are targeting!"

As one of its sources, the magazine credits Mr A, former yakuza gang member who later moved to a group specializing in home break-ins, and who was willing to share some of the methods by which he and his colleagues planned a caper.

Mr A told the magazine his gang would pore over the contents of illegally obtained membership directories and other name lists. Especially in demand are directories listing the alumni of elite engineering schools, as such persons tend to receive high wages and generous retirement pensions. In addition to the member's name, such directories sometimes contain the person's telephone number, date of birth and in some cases the names of other members of the household.

The next stage, according to Mr A, would be to park in the vicinity of the potential target, after having attached stolen license plates to the vehicle, and spend time scouting out how many people belong to the household, as well as observe their patterns of coming and going.

From this and other sources, Shukan Gendai has produced a list of 30 characteristics -- call them weak points if you will -- that are assigned with one to three stars. A single star indicates the lowest degree of vulnerability to break-ins and three stars the highest. Three or more of these suggests a greater vulnerability to a break-in or home invasion.

Atop the list of three-starred items is responding to surveys over the telephone or via email. Claiming to be a representative of the media or government, a gang member will pose certain queries into the mix of seemingly innocent questions that might reveal details of a household's assets.

Another characteristic is living in a large house constructed 30 or more years ago, which suggests the head of household is likely to be an older person. Such homes tend to have been designed with less consideration to security and probably have several points of entry.

Another giveaway is a car with a yotsuba mark (a clover-shaped sticker applied to the car's rear deck that indicates the driver is an older person). Crooks' interest is particularly raised when the sticker is attached to a pricy import or upscale domestic model.

A door interphone not equipped with a camera is also considered inviting, as is also a house that lacks a box adjacent to the front door for receiving unattended home deliveries.

Thieves also look for buildings that combine a commercial business and residence. Such places are more likely to have cash receipts from the business on hand, making them that much more attractive to thieves.

Among the other details that thieves are likely to look for include homes with a kitchen door or service entrance; places surrounded by a high wall close to a second floor veranda, which would enable an intruder to pull himself up. Likewise for houses built so close together that a "Spiderman thief" could shimmy up the sides to access a second-story entry point; people who pay for home renovations with a single payment instead of in installments; close proximity to a park or parking lot; houses in which the parking garage lacks a shutter; and places equipped with dummy security cameras or dummy stickers for security services.

Shukan Gendai asked Mr C, a former member of a han-gure (quasi-yakuza) group, about the kind of homes that crooks would be unlikely to target.

"They'd certainly avoid a house with a large dog in the yard," he said. "Its barking would be noticed by passers-by and the neighbors. A seal on the door indicating the resident was a member of the Nippon Police Dog Association may also be helpful."

A house with gravel spread around its periphery also serves as a deterrent. "Just walking on it produces a characteristic noise, which is particularly noticeable at night," Mr C told the magazine.

© Japan Today

©2023 GPlusMedia Inc.

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"the dozens of homes targeted for robbery since last October by the Manila-based gang of hoods headed by Yuki "Luffy" Watanabe"

This is only supposition, not fact. It has yet to be proved in a court of law.

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