CHIBA – The Metropolitan Police Department has issued an arrest warrant for a 19-year-old boy seen in YouTube videos shoplifting and poking toothpicks into food packages at supermarkets and convenience stores. Needles have also been found in food.
Police said Thursday the unemployed Tokyo resident is suspected of several crimes including theft and the fraudulent obstruction of business.
Some of videos uploaded to YouTube in the past month show him shoplifting. One of the first, uploaded on Dec. 16, shows the teenager bragging about how he stole a drink “off a store shelf with such ease.” On Dec. 21, he shared a video titled “a shoplifting lecture.”
In recent videos, the teenager showed himself playing a “prank” by sticking toothpicks into packages of food, including at least one tube of potato sticks.
“Just like this,” the boy is heard saying as he pokes two packages. “It’s so easy.”
The incident occurred Sunday at a supermarket in Chofu, western Tokyo. A customer called the store Monday after finding one of the toothpicks and staff reported it to the police, who opened an investigation.
In footage uploaded Tuesday, the suspect suggests he knows police are on his tail.
“I’ve decided to keep running away so as not to get caught,” he says.
One video also shows him slipping a ¥1 coin into a package of snacks. All of them are apparently being uploaded from the same YouTube account.
Meanwhile, the Chiba Prefectural Police on Thursday reported two similar acts in the city of Chiba, where sewing needles were found in packages of pastries sold at a convenience store and a supermarket.
Police say they are analyzing video footage from surveillance cameras in stores and around the city.
At around 6 p.m. Wednesday, the convenience store’s customer service team received a complaint from a customer who apparently found a needle inside a bun, police said.
Similar cases were reported at a supermarket 400 meters away, police said. The needles were all about 4 cm long and are believed to be of the same type.
The police said the acts could have been conducted by a copycat who saw the original videos.
The images have been widely viewed and shared on the Internet.
“People who commit such acts for fun take great pleasure in such reaction,” said an officer investigating the case.
The police noted that copycat crimes are a risk, with a similar case already reported at a convenience store in Toyota, Aichi Prefecture, where a toothpick turned up inside a snack package.