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Seven men who claimed to be “molester friends” were arrested on suspicion of stealing from homes in Osaka, Kyoto and Shiga Prefecture over a period of six years, it was learned Wednesday.

Kazuo Teshima and six other men are suspected of stealing jewelry and cash totaling about 23 million yen between 1992 and June 1998. Teshima told police the group met on the JR Osaka Circle Line where they habitually molested women on the same trains, police said.

Teshima and Sadao Kashioka, both 31, unemployed and homeless, were arrested June 5 while stealing 40,000 yen from a home in Osaka’s Daito city. The other five were arrested later, though police would not specify when.

The seven suspects broke into houses in pairs and used the same technique to unlock doors by breaking a nearby window, police said. They are being held on an alleged 143 counts of theft. At the time of arrest, Teshima was living at a hotel near JR Kyobashi Station.

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