• Kyodo


Police arrested a 50-year-old part-time worker, Kazutoshi Iwama, for allegedly shoplifting a tin toy robot from the classic anime series “Tetsujin 28-go” at a Mandarake Inc. store that sells secondhand manga and anime collectibles.

The store’s owner had threatened to disclose on the firm’s website an unaltered photo of the man unless the stolen item, with a price tag of ¥270,000, was returned, after posting security camera footage of the alleged shoplifter with a digitally blurred face.

The unusual threat had raised ethical questions.

According to the police, the man was suspected of stealing the toy on Aug. 4 at the store in Nakano Ward, Tokyo, because he sold a tin toy that appeared to be the stolen one at a different store dealing with secondhand items in the same ward a few days after the theft.

Iwama allegedly told investigators that he was unaware of Mandarake’s threat to post an image of his face online until after he had sold the toy.

The suspect was quoted as telling police he wanted to buy a figure of “kaiju” monsters with that money.

The man looked similar to the one who appeared in the video footage.

“I stole it because a window on the showcase was open, and I thought I could make money by selling it,” police quoted Iwama as saying.

When he sold the toy to the other secondhand store for ¥64,000 on Aug. 7, he showed his identification card with his name on it. Police investigators found the toy at the store and tried to confirm if it was the stolen one.

Iwama told investigators that he did not know about Mandarake’s threat until after he had sold the toy.

Last week, Mandarake dropped its plan to post the photo of the suspected shoplifter after police expressed concern that it could hinder their investigation.

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