Japan fact of the day

by on July 11, 2013 at 1:49 am in Law, Uncategorized | Permalink

It’s not just diapers:

Boredom and isolation don’t just belong to teenagers anymore as a report from the Tokyo Metropolitan Police shows that there are now more elderly shoplifters than teenaged ones in Tokyo. This is the first time that this has happened since the police began keeping records about this particular crime.

Statistics show that 3,321 people aged 65 or older were arrested on suspicion of shoplifting in 2012, which accounted for almost a quarter or 24.5% of the total number of arrests. Those aged 19 or below accounted for 23.6% of figures, with 3,195 arrests made. Even though the total number of arrests have declined based on the statistics from 2011, the ratio of elderly people shoplifting is on the rise. While the statistics did not include reasons for shoplifting, the growing isolation of the elderly from society has been cited as a growing problem among that age group.

Here is more, via the excellent Mark Thorson.

1 Ted Sanders July 11, 2013 at 1:59 am

Is this a sign that the elderly are growing discontented, or just a sign that Japan’s demographics continue to shift to the old. How has the base rate changed?

(The article says the ratio has gone up, but it’s clear what ratio “the ratio” is referring to.)

2 Phillip July 11, 2013 at 5:08 pm

Relevant data is second graph from bottom here:

Red is 14-19 year olds, Green is 65+, and blue is total population, with crimes expressed as # per 10,000 people in the relevant group. The red line is much higher than the green line, i.e. the young in Japan are much more likely to shoplift than the old. The categories are also not comparable: there are a lot more people in “65+” than in “14-19.” So the story is misleading on two counts.

On the other hand, young Japanese are shoplifting less over time, while there is no clear trend among the elderly, particularly over the past five years. If you look at general Japanese crime statistics, you’ll immediately notice that the most noticeable trend is a large decline in crime across most categories and age groups (e.g. total crime is down about 25% over the past five years). Not to mention the numbers are so low to begin with:


Sadly, you’re much more likely to read information about foreign countries that fits the conventional narrative of “bizarre / alien / freakish,” even if the information is misleading/false.

3 Ted Sanders July 11, 2013 at 1:59 am

*NOT clear

4 Rahul July 11, 2013 at 2:04 am

>>>there are now more elderly shoplifters than teenaged ones in Tokyo. <<<

In other news, there are now more elderly people than teenagers in Tokyo.

Is this boredom & isolation or just probability and demographics?

5 CBBB July 11, 2013 at 2:27 am

But all old peole steal – these stores should stop carrying batteries

6 dan1111 July 11, 2013 at 5:30 am

What is the relative probability of old and young people getting caught when they do shoplift?

7 Johnny July 11, 2013 at 9:23 am

Came here to say this. My bet is on sample selection bias.

8 Rahul July 11, 2013 at 10:33 am

Biased which way? Old more or less likely to get caught & reported. I can think of arguments either way.

9 Nick July 11, 2013 at 6:27 am

Well, I guess if they are already retired, its not going to hurt their employment prospects (which I think is a major concern for youngsters). Remember uncle leo: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Vm2SuAPuA38

10 CBBB July 11, 2013 at 7:59 am

Sorry I already beat you to the Seinfeld reference

11 Nick July 11, 2013 at 10:51 pm

Oh yeah, forgot that line.

12 The Cranky Professor July 11, 2013 at 8:33 am

I’m looking forward to Oldster Gangs terrorizing the streets!

13 msgkings July 11, 2013 at 1:04 pm

In this as in so many things, Monty Python got there first:


14 Turkey Vulture July 11, 2013 at 9:51 am

The beauty of changing demographics is that they lay the foundation for a million trend stories.

15 msgkings July 11, 2013 at 1:06 pm


16 Andrew July 11, 2013 at 1:18 pm

3,321 people aged 65 or older were arrested on suspicion of shoplifting in 2012, which accounted for almost a quarter or 24.5% of the total number of arrests

13,555 shoplifting arrests per year? Weren’t we talking about 16,000 murders per year in Caracas yesterday? This number is so low who even gives a shit.

17 Anonymous coward July 11, 2013 at 3:25 pm

Besides demographics, it should be remembered that many old people in Japan live on a pittance (state pension) and often have no relatives to support them.

18 JWatts July 11, 2013 at 6:02 pm

Further proof of the laziness of modern children. When I was a teenager we were jacking a car up and putting it on blocks, just to steal the tires. That was hard work and built character. Kids today want everything handed to them on a silver platter.

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