Three armed men with crowbars stole timepieces from a luxury watch shop in Tokyo’s Ginza shopping district this week in broad daylight, according to The Japan Times. The brazen crime was captured on camera by several witnesses.
The trio donned white masks and black clothing while smashing through showcases, CBS News reported. Security alarms filled the heavily trafficked street as they fled. The thieves eventually made their way to a rented getaway van, which ran a red light. A door on the vehicle was still open as they tried to escape.
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But the robbers didn’t get far, as they ended up being trapped in a dead-end street, CBS reported. All four of the thieves—including the getaway driver—were apprehended less than an hour after their crime. Authorities have since recovered around 70 of the nearly 100 timepieces stolen that have a collective value of more than $700,000. All suspects were between the ages of 16 and 19. The group told police they met each other for the first time when performing the robbery.
The plot appeared to be linked to a trend of criminal groups recruiting youths for an array of illegal exploits, according to CBS. “Yami-baito,” referring to black-market part-time jobs, allows gangs to outsource their dirty work to young people who are desperate for cash. The groups reportedly post ads with the promise of quick, easy money online—sometimes on social media.
The Tokyo Metropolitan Police Department said they found 3,480 offers of such illegal work posted to Twitter in 2022, up from the 2,246 in 2021, The Japan Times reported. “Using sweet words, they are skillfully targeting young people, as well as those with no financial leeway,” a senior MPD official told the paper.
Late last year, Robb Report reported that top cities around the globe like London, Paris and Los Angeles, are seeing more high-end watch robberies. For instance, $10 million worth of timepieces were stolen from Watchmaster, one of Europe’s leading dealers of pre-owned luxury watches. Watch collectors in London have also been on watch following a rash of thefts carried out by criminals who are searching through social media in search of potential victims. In America, Bay Area residents have had their Rolexes stolen right off their wrists.