A comedian was arrested Tuesday after allegedly staging an online auction of an acquaintance’s valuable bicycles, and then stealing them to sell to the highest bidder, police said.
Nobushige Kaneshima, 39, allegedly took pictures of nine high-end bicycles owned by a cycling magazine editor and posted them on an Internet auction site.
Once the virtual hammer fell, Kaneshima allegedly stole them from the editor’s garage in Toshima Ward, Tokyo.
The bicycles were worth a total of ¥2 million ($20,000), according to media reports.
Kaneshima, who goes by the stage name Kaneshima Dancing and is well known as a ballroom performer, has reportedly denied the allegations.
According to the Metropolitan Police Department, the number of thefts of high-end bicycles in Tokyo has nearly quadrupled over the last five years as the nation has undergone a cycling boom.
The number of bicycle thefts in Tokyo has been falling and now stands at around 50,000 to 60,000 per year, but thefts of bicycles priced at ¥100,000 or more jumped to 686 in 2011 from 181 in 2006, the police said.
Many of the bicycles stolen had their locks cut.
“Unlike cars and motorcycles, thieves can steal bicycles without damaging them. Bicycles are light and easy to carry,” a senior investigator said.
Bicycle theft insurance became available in December and the number of subscribers has increased sharply, according to the General Insurance Association of Japan and other sources.
In addition, there are many problems related to selling and buying bicycles over the Internet. Japanese auction sites have several hundred thousand listings for bicycles and parts, and a significant number of them are fakes or stolen, one site operator said.