Japanese police have finally caught a ninja thief who has evaded them for more than eight years. They were surprised to find though, that the elusive burglar was 74 years old.
The nimble ninja allegedly committed over 250 break-ins and has been charged with stealing items and cash to the tune of some 30 million yen ($260,000).
Police had been baffled by a series of burglaries committed by a man dressed as a ninja, with their only clue being some security footage showing a man dressed entirely in black, a neck-warmer pulled up to his nose and a hood down to the eyebrows.
It wasn’t just the man’s attire that earned him the ninja nickname, however. The agile assailant did not take the conventional route, instead, squeezing through tight gaps and running along the tops of walls to claim his prize.
Despite his prowess, the 74-year-old made an inadvertent, but crucial error in May. While out on a job his neck warmer slipped, revealing his face to security cameras. It was this literal ‘slip’ that alerted cops as to his identity.
Police identified their man as Mitsuaki Tanigawa who had previous records for stealing. They then placed him under surveillance.
“Investigators watched him doddering out from his house like any other old man during daytime. He then went to an abandoned apartment room where he changed and waited until it got dark,” the Japan Times quotes a senior official at the Kawachi Police Station as saying.
“When he came out in the dark, he was all in black. He did not take ordinary streets, squeezing through tight spaces between houses and running on the tops of walls,” he added.
Unable to pursue Tanigawa while he was out on a mission, the cops waited for him to return to his lair before making their move. They finally arrested him at 4am after he robbed an electronics store.
“If I were younger, I wouldn’t have been caught. I’ll quit now as I’m 74 and old enough,” the thief was quoted as saying following his arrest.