Police arrest second man over biggest-ever robbery

Kyodo

A second man wanted in connection with the biggest robbery in Japanese history was arrested Friday after turning himself in at JR Shinagawa Station.

Yutaka Watanabe, 41, was arrested on suspicion of burglary and inflicting bodily harm in the May heist, in which a security company in Tachikawa, western Tokyo, was robbed of ¥604 million. Another suspect, Hideaki Ueki, 31, was arrested on similar charges early Wednesday.

Watanabe confessed.

The police said they received a call from a man early Friday who said that (Watanabe) wanted to turn himself in. Officers designated the train station as a meeting point and detained him after finding him standing alone with a bag containing some ¥5 million in cash.

Watanabe said he arrived by taxi and the police believe the cash in the bag was some of the loot.

The two men, whose addresses and occupations are not known, are suspected of breaking into the security company’s office in Tachikawa, assaulting a security guard and taking the cash in the early hours of May 12. The police said they believe Watanabe played a leading role in the case and gave instructions to Ueki.

The amount of cash allegedly taken by the two men broke the previous record of ¥542.5 million stolen from a transportation company in Tochigi Prefecture in October 2004.

Police believe the two suspects contacted nearly 10 people, including those with yakuza connections, on cellphones before and after the incident.

The two men entered the office wearing masks at around 3 a.m., beat the security guard with an iron pipe and forced him to reveal the code for the vault before making off with the cash in 70 bags, according to the police. The 36-year old guard was stabbed several times.

Given the arrests, an official of the security firm said investigation is making steady progress, and that the firm will continue to fully cooperate with it.

“I am relieved to hear the news (of Watanabe’s arrest). We are confident the case is moving toward the end,” said a spokesman for Japan Post, which consigned the cash transfer to the firm.