Cops Finally Catch 'Ninja' Thief, and It's a Surprise

Agile crook who eluded police for 8 years is 74 years old, say authorities in Japan
By John Johnson,  Newser Staff
Posted Oct 26, 2017 10:40 AM CDT
Updated Oct 29, 2017 12:30 PM CDT
Cops Finally Catch 'Ninja' Thief, and It's a Surprise
A police image of the "ninja" thief.   (Osaka Prefectural Police)

For the better part of a decade, an agile, black-clad thief eluded police in Osaka, Japan, as he pulled off burglary after burglary. But the reign of the crook who came to be known as the "Ninja of Heisei" appears to be over, and it came with a big surprise for cops: The suspect is 74 years old, reports the Asahi Shimbun. "I thought I would never be caught," says Mitsuaki Tanigawa, who was arrested after police say he broke into an electronics shop over the summer and stole $240 in cash. "He was dressed all in black just like a ninja," says a police official, per the BBC.

Tanigawa is described as unemployed, but that's perhaps because his alleged nighttime work was so lucrative. Police think he stole an estimated $250,000 in hundreds of break-ins at homes and businesses beginning in 2009, often while demonstrating remarkable agility by, say, running along the tops of walls. The big break came when the thief was caught on surveillance video lowering a neck warmer from his face. That led to cops keeping a watch on Tanigawa, who they say looked for all the world like an ordinary elderly Japanese man during the day. One night, however, police say they watched him slip into an abandoned building and emerge in full ninja garb before going to "work." (More weird crimes stories.)

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