Shoplifting Japan

Elderly Shoplifters On The Loose In Tokyo

The number of elderly shoplifters on the loose in Tokyo is currently on the rise.

For the first time since authorities began keeping written record of criminal activity, more elderly adults have been busted for stealing than teenagers. While the number of shoplifting arrests has fallen overall across the country, the number of grown-ups getting arrested has increased.

Why are elderly men and women becoming shoplifters in Tokyo? According to AFP, these people are just lonely. As this age group becomes increasingly isolated, many of them are turning to a life of crime.

Police documents show that 3,321 men and women over the age of 65 were arrested for shoplifting during 2012. This accounts for approximately 24 percent of the total. Teenagers presently account for 23 percent of shoplifting crimes. While the numbers aren’t too different, it proves that adults are enjoying five-finger discounts just as frequently as kids.

The Japan Times reports that 72.7 of the elderly shoplifters busted in Tokyo were unemployed at the time of their arrest. Around 11 percent of these individuals were on welfare.

Approximately 70 percent of all the stolen items were food. Many elderly shoplifters said they simply had no money to purchase the things they took, while another significant percentage stated that they had no one to turn to for help.

Japan’s total population is currently perched at 128 million people. Roughly 25 percent of everyone living in the country is either 65 or older. Some believe that the modernization of Japan is effectively breaking down familial ties.

In order to combat the number of elderly shoplifters in Tokyo, Chuo University criminology expert Tetsuya Fujimoto believes the government should do more to prevent these people from turning to a life of crime. This could involve prisons setting up programs to teach inmates about welfare.

What do you think about the large number of elderly shoplifters living in Tokyo?

[Image via J. Henning Buchholz /]