Police in Aichi and Ishikawa prefectures have arrested three teenagers for allegedly breaking into houses in the city of Wajima, Ishikawa Prefecture, that were damaged by the New Year's Day quake and stealing liquor and other valuables.

This is the first time that a group of thieves from outside Ishikawa Prefecture targeting the disaster-hit area has been caught, according to police.

The suspects are a 19-year-old unemployed man from Nagoya's Showa Ward, an 18-year-old Brazilian dispatch worker based in the city of Iwakura, Aichi Prefecture, and a 16-year-old Chinese girl whose home address is unknown.

It was not disclosed whether or not they had admitted to the offenses.

They allegedly conspired with another boy on Jan. 5, four days after the earthquake, and broke into the homes of an 87-year-old man and an 80-year-old woman, both in Wajima, and stole 10 items, including brandy and rings worth about ¥65,000 ($435) in total.

According to Aichi police, a resident near the scene spotted a suspicious car and reported it to the police. A police officer who arrived at the scene found a crowbar and other items inside the suspects’ car.

At the time of the incident, the residents were at evacuation shelters and the houses were unoccupied.

Since the earthquake, there have been 51 cases of theft at houses and stores damaged by the quake in Ishikawa Prefecture. Police are investigating whether the suspects were involved in repeated burglaries in the affected areas.