Police said Tuesday that a special squad set up ahead of the upcoming World Cup soccer finals to prevent an increase in thefts and robberies has made its first arrests: three men are being held on suspicion of trying to steal a wallet in Tokyo.

Members of the team arrested Hugo Becerril, who identified himself as a 39-year-old Mexican, as he allegedly tried to steal a wallet and other items from the bag of a 66-year-old executive at a restaurant in Chiyoda Ward at around 3:30 p.m., according to police officials.

The officers also arrested his two suspected accomplices: another man believed to be Mexican and a man believed to be from Peru.

Police spotted the three acting suspiciously outside a bank in the Ueno district in Taito Ward and followed them.

The three suspects are believed to have arrived in Japan in April or May but their purpose in visiting Japan was not to watch the World Cup, which kicks off Friday, police said.

Sign-removal request

OSAKA — Sonezaki Police Station, in Kita Ward here, asked shop owners and businesses Tuesday to remove signboards that may be used as weapons by soccer hooligans.

Police officials also said bicycles left around train and subway stations will be removed.

Osaka is scheduled to host three World Cup matches, including one involving the England team. The competition begins Friday.

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