OSAKA — Osaka Prefectural Police launched a campaign Thursday to crack down on bag-snatchers by marking them with paint balls.

The prefecture has become infamous as having the nation’s worst record for bag-snatching cases in the last 24 years, and authorities hope to curb the trend, sources said.

Operation Red&Blue features the introduction of red paint balls, which will be used by a motorcycle squad assigned to bag-snatching cases.

Police will mark thieves with the paint balls thrown at them.

About 40 members of the squad participated in the day’s demonstration, in which they practiced throwing the balls at thieves on the run.

Two officers playing the role of perpetrators snatched bags and fled by motorcycle and car. The squad then chased them, closing the distance and hitting them with paint balls.

“We hope the introduction of paint balls will help reduce cases of bag-snatching, which are difficult to catch red-handed,” said Fumio Kamiura, a senior official on the Osaka force.

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