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Osaka has lost its title as Japan’s bag-snatching capital after the number of cases recorded by police in the prefecture fell by 146 in 2019 from the previous year to 254, police sources said Thursday.

A total of 259 cases were recorded in Tokyo, marking the first time in nine years that Osaka was not the top bag-snatching prefecture, according to Osaka Prefectural Police sources.

With the exception of 2010, Osaka has had the largest number of snatch-and-grab cases among the 47 prefectures every year since 1976.

After reaching a peak of 10,973 cases in 2000, the number of such cases within Osaka started to fall, with the total in 2019 coming to only 2.3 percent of that of the peak year.

The Osaka police believe that the decline stemmed from the growing presence of security cameras, arrests of repeat offenders and heightened awareness. Bag-snatching was excluded this year from the prefectural police’s list of crimes subject to intensive crackdown efforts.

The number of bag-snatching cases detected by the police in the city of Sakai last year stood at six, down significantly from the 47 recorded in 2017. Over the two years through March 2019, the number of security cameras installed in the city rose by some 400 to 2,035.

“While there is no doubt that security cameras have played a role, the result was due to comprehensive measures, including anti-crime patrols by communities,” a Sakai Municipal Government official said.

Noting that women and elderly people were prone to becoming victims of bag-snatching, Kiyoji Ikeda, deputy head of the Osaka police’s crime prevention strategy headquarters, said, “We aim to continue clamping down (on such crimes) stringently.”

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