• Kyodo


Some 300 luxury-brand watches worth a total of 200 million yen were stolen from the Hankyu department store in Osaka in a cunning robbery that left officials scratching their heads.

A broken window was found in a hair salon on the same floor by a security guard at around 9 a.m. Sunday, suggesting that is how the culprit or culprits got in.

The building is undergoing a major renovation and scaffolding on the southern side comes close to the eighth floor, the Asahi Shimbun said on its Web site.

However, the hair salon is on the northwest corner of the building, and there doesn’t appear to be any access from the scaffolding to the hair salon’s window, the Asahi said.

Hankyu officials also said breaking into the hair salon wouldn’t allow access to the watch section because the two sections are shut off from each other after business hours.

The building is 12 stories high.

The luxury-brand watch section carries a variety of timepieces by such makers as Rolex and Cartier.

Police said the break-in must have occurred between 9 p.m. Saturday and 9 a.m. Sunday. The locks on the watch showcases had been pried open with a tool such as a screw driver, they said.

Security in the watch section had been tight, the Asahi said.

“It was very troublesome when we forgot something and wanted to go back,” one salesclerk was quoted as saying.

But security alarms did not go off during the 12 hours in which the theft is thought to have occurred, the Asahi quoted Hankyu officials as saying.

At the same store, located in the Umeda commercial district near JR Osaka Station, a tiara worth 36 million yen and displayed on the first floor was stolen Oct. 9.

Since that theft, which occurred at around 3:40 p.m. during business hours, Hankyu had beefed up security.

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