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Police investigate report of someone spreading white powder on street in Hyogo

26 Comments
By Casey Baseel, SoraNews24

At around 6:30 p.m. on Monday evening, the police in the city of Nishinomiya, Hyogo Prefecture, were contacted by a local who’d seen something unusual in the Takaginishimachi neighborhood. “There was someone spreading a white powder around as they were walking,” the tipster told them, adding “They looked like a foreigner.”

In response, the Nishinomiya Precinct mobilized a detachment of officers to the area where the tipster said they’d seen the unusual scene, arriving shortly before 7 o’clock and setting up a protective perimeter by shutting down traffic in a 120-meter east/west section of the street. Members of the fire department, equipped with hazmat gear, also took part in the operation, during which nearby residents were asked to stay in their homes until the potential danger could be assessed.

The alleged powder-spreader was nowhere to be seen, but the authorities did indeed find a white powder, on the sidewalk and in the shrubbery next to the walkway, in over 50 spots along that section of the road. Lab workers took samples for testing to determine what the substance was, and the following day announced their findings, saying:

“There is a 98-percent certainty that the substance is wheat flour.”

And so the community can breathe a sigh of relief, as it appears there’s neither a cocaine-smuggling drug runner or an anthrax terrorist running around Takaginishimachi. Mixed in with that relief, though, is the bafflement of why anyone would go spreading flour along the roadside like this, as shown in Twitter comments about the incident such as:

“Someone walking around sprinkling flour is scary enough in its own way.”

“The world’s gone nuts.”

“What’s that person hope to accomplish?”

“I’m pretty sure they’re not a terrorist trying to trigger anaphylaxis in people with a wheat flour allergy.”

“All the same, spreading flour like that on the sidewalk is a public nuisance.”

“What’s with the ’98-percent certainty?’ Figure out what it is!”

Regarding the last comment, it definitely seems like modern science should be able to tell us, beyond a shadow of a doubt, whether or not a substance being examined is something as common as flour.

Still, with no locals suffering injuries or otherwise requiring medical treatment stemming from the incident, it seems like the powder really is just flour, or something equally harmless. As such, mobilizing the police and fire department might look like overkill, but that’s something that’s only easy to say with the luxury of hindsight.

Purposefully spreading powdered substances in public places is definitely unusual behavior, so it’s not like a witness would automatically think “Oh, that’ just flour!” Especially following the Kyoto Animation arson attack, there’s an increased awareness among public safety officials about being diligent about suspicious behavior involving unidentified substances.

There’s also a theory that some acts of petty borderline vandalism are a method by which plotting criminals test how observant a neighborhood’s residents are, with a longer period of inaction an indicator that future thefts and burglaries would be less likely to be noticed until after the crooks have made their getaway. As the alleged powder-spreader has not been found, however, the motive remains unknown.

Source: Kobe Shinbun Next via Jin, Twitter

Read more stories from SoraNews24.

-- Kyoto counter-terrorism unit called in after senior citizen “reserves” parking space

-- Flour products sell online for outrageous prices in Japan as demand for them skyrockets

-- We made bread out of ice cream and it’s delicious! Super simple 3 ingredient recipe

© SoraNews24

©2024 GPlusMedia Inc.

26 Comments
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There was a similar story in Glasgow a few days ago. It turned out the flour was used to mark out a running route. Could it be the same here?

https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-scotland-glasgow-west-67484991#

14 ( +14 / -0 )

“They looked like a foreigner.” Yeah, don’t forget that part. Jesus.

-6 ( +17 / -23 )

Probably talcum powder

2 ( +10 / -8 )

“They looked like a foreigner.”

What does a foreigner look like?

Why no description in the article nor from the police?

Why didn’t the police caller ask the person any questions?

After all foreigners are less likely to commit crimes than Japanese!

Japanese people have a lot to learn….still.

-9 ( +13 / -22 )

“What does a foreigner look like?” Blonde hair, blue eyes, a ‘tall nose’, and go around causing trouble. Apparently.

-1 ( +12 / -13 )

Huh! Typical of foreigners! You never know what they are going to do next! Spreading white powder! Typical!

-5 ( +9 / -14 )

Japanese people need to up their communication skills so they don’t unnecessarily waste emergency services’ time

-13 ( +4 / -17 )

Google Hash House Harriers.

It's a type of running club that uses flour and chalk to mark a running trail.

6 ( +6 / -0 )

Quick, call the police, a foreigner has dropped some wheat flour on the path. Never a dull moment living in this place.

-9 ( +5 / -14 )

" in the shrubbery"

Very rare to see the word shrubbery. Always makes me smile, no idea why.

1 ( +3 / -2 )

@mr kipling - I think your smile is brought on by the old ditty "The Old Grey Mare said..."

And yes I agree with other posters that have suggested the possibility of marking a running trail.

A Friends avid local runners group - which I do not indulge in - said a few years back that they drop flour at regular intervals to mark a course. Although their courses often involved ordinary streets and hiking trails.

He said it's "Eco" as the flour disperses easily and does no damage.

Maybe.

4 ( +4 / -0 )

They looked like a foreigner.” Yeah, don’t forget that part. Jesus.

Yes, because they have to have a description of the suspect. It is a pertinent fact of the case. if you don't like the fact that a foreigner is accused of a crime, too bad.

-4 ( +3 / -7 )

Mr KiplingToday  09:59 am JST

" in the shrubbery"

Very rare to see the word shrubbery. Always makes me smile, no idea why.

Python?

“First you must find... another shrubbery! Then, when you have found the shrubbery, you must place it here, beside this shrubbery, only slightly higher so you get a two layer effect with a little path running down the middle. ("A path! A path!") Then, you must cut down the mightiest tree in the forrest... with... a herring!”

3 ( +3 / -0 )

jfc. a big circus all for some flour. no one in their right mind would be spreading very expensive drugs onto the shrubs. maybe who gives a sht, it'll wash away when it rains

6 ( +6 / -0 )

Probably the authorities were worried maybe an Aum Shinrikyo-style attack. Best to be cautious.

6 ( +6 / -0 )

There’s also a theory that some acts of petty borderline vandalism are a method by which plotting criminals test how observant a neighborhood’s residents are, with a longer period of inaction an indicator that future thefts and burglaries would be less likely to be noticed until after the crooks have made their getaway. 

This seems like a forced explanation, something like this obviously would be a huge call of attention that would make any other attempt for something similar a sure way to immediately involve the police. I would think Hanlon's razor is appropriate and if anything illegal was taking place it would be minor and less convoluted.

2 ( +2 / -0 )

It must have raised some concerns given the times we live in. There are some very dangerous powders out there, fentanyl being just one, and it can be a white powder, and it is 20 to 40 times more potent than heroin and 100 times more potent than morphine. Just being near it can cause serious problems.

-1 ( +0 / -1 )

Morons have a lot of time to waste, apparently.

-1 ( +0 / -1 )

Love that word 'tipster', which was used in the article . . . is that a word?

0 ( +0 / -0 )

kurisupisuToday  08:04 am JST

“They looked like a foreigner.”

What does a foreigner look like?

Like you I would guess. The police asking for a description of the suspect is a universal common law enforcemet practice throughout the entire world.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

Yes, it's a running group. They have been doing this in various parts of Japan for over 45 years. There are thousands of similar groups all around the world. Someone marks a trail with blobs of flour and the rest try to follow it. Then they chill with a few beers.

If the police, or whoever called them, had followed this trail far enough, they would have either found the person marking it or got to the start or finish.

I believe, on the night in question, that would have been near Nishinomiya station.

2 ( +2 / -0 )

There is an international running group called the Hash House Harriers. Thhey are active in many countries around the world. They have been active in Japan at least since I was stationed here in the ‘80s.

https://www.gotothehash.net/japan/h3injpn.html

A person designated as the hare, will mark the route using flour. The rest follow this course. Shouting, “On on.”

https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hash_House_Harriers

2 ( +2 / -0 )

@Nadrew

Many clubs around the world still use shredded or small squares of paper, but due to litter laws and other environmental concerns, most clubs have transitioned to chalk or flour, but other substances may be used too, e.g. saw dust, colored powder, or pieces of toilet paper.

I have seen such chalk markings around my area - though, thought that they were some kids marking the way to their Birthday party.

The club sounds interesting though. Any reasons for NOT joining it ?

0 ( +0 / -0 )

Any reasons for NOT joining it ?

If you don't want to get fit or drink beer ....

0 ( +0 / -0 )

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