Alarm foils gold-ingot theft attempt


A burglar broke into a local-products shop in a town on Awaji Island Sunday in a failed attempt to steal a 50 million yen gold ingot, police said.

The unidentified burglar broke into the Akai Yane (Red Roof) located in the town of Tsuna. The prowler attempted to enter through a shop door but fled the scene when a security alarm went off at around 2:30 a.m., according to police.

The ingot, one of two owned by the Tsuna Municipality Government, had been in a 500-kg, 177-cm tall safe in the shop. A security guard who rushed to the scene saw wire coiled around the safe. This suggested the perpetrator tried to drag the safe outside, police said, adding that a white truck was seen leaving the store.

The Tsuna government had purchased the ingots as a tourist attraction in 1989 with a 100 million yen government subsidy. The then administration of Prime Minister Noboru Takeshita provided the same subsidy to each of some 3,200 municipalities nationwide to prop up regional economies.

The ingots, which together weigh 107 kg, drew public attention earlier this year when the town debated whether to sell them to pay for security measures for the England national soccer team, which stayed there in the weeks before this summer’s World Cup soccer tournament in Japan and South Korea.

The ingots drew even bigger attention later as England’s football superstar David Beckham paid a visit to see the ingot.