YAMAGUCHI — A 36-year-old man has been handed over to prosecutors for allegedly stealing 4,500 pieces of women’s underwear from lingerie shops while on business trips, police sources said Monday.

Kazuhiro Watanabe of Fukutomi, Hiroshima Prefecture, was arrested July 24 after breaking into a lingerie shop here, the sources said.

Police later learned that Watanabe had stolen 5,100 items — including 4,500 items of lingerie — in eight prefectures in western Japan since August 1995, they said. The value of the stolen items comes to 46 million yen, they said.

Watanabe reportedly told police that he began stealing the goods because he needed pocket money and had been unable to “forget the touch of lingerie” from his first robbery, the sources said.

Watanabe’s wife and children were unaware of his acts because he kept the undergarments in a godown of the house, they said.

Watanabe, a former office worker, had robbed lingerie shops in Yamaguchi, Shimane, Tottori, Okayama, Hiroshima, Ehime, Kagawa and Tokushima prefectures during his business trips, the sources said. He used telephone directories to check the locations of the shops, they said.

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