Crooks in Japan are getting older and more hardened

Nov 23, 2017

THE 74-year-old burglar evaded police in Osaka, Japan’s second-largest city, for eight years. He committed more than 250 burglaries, making off with items worth some ¥30m ($266,500), the police said, before he was finally caught last month. But he has at least told his captors that he is ready to retire.

Not all Japan’s elderly criminals are willing to follow suit. New figures from the government show that almost a quarter of criminals aged over 65 reoffend within two years, more than double the rate of those under 29. Some 70% of the wrinkly wrongdoers in prison in 2016 had previously spent time behind bars. And there are ever more of them: in 2015 more than 20% of arrests were of people aged over 65—up from 6% in 2005. In America, in comparison, over-65s account for barely 1% of arrests.

The majority of crimes the grey-haired commit are petty, such as theft and shoplifting. Analysts reckon it is a sign of poverty, which is relatively widespread among the old (by the...

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