The Saitama Public Prosecutor's Office has created a pilot program to help seniors who have been caught shoplifting as the number of such thefts by those aged 65 and over has surged recently.

Such a rehabilitative program by prosecutors is rare, according to experts, who say prosecutors in Saitama have almost taken on the role of probation officers.

According to Justice Ministry statistics, shoplifters age 65 and over numbered 27,953 in 2013, up 370 percent from the figure 20 years ago. They now make up 32.7 percent of all shoplifters caught nationwide.