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Audacious break-in artists target noisy snorers

Be careful in your choice of hotel accommodations, or you might find yourself with a nasty surprise not mentioned by Airbnb.
Nikkan Gendai (Apr 11) reports that a three-man team of robbers from China who made regular short-term visits to Japan were able to devise a new and highly effective technique to target customers catching their Z's at business hotels.
The news came to light after police announced the arrests of 44-year-old Liu Chenmin, a taxi driver originally from China's Jiangxi Province, and two confederates on charges of burglary in Hyogo, Osaka, Okayama, Fukuoka and two other prefectures. Beginning from last year, the men's crime spree, which involved the robbery of 21 victims, allegedly netted them a total of 3 million yen.
The group's modus operandi was unique and required detection of loud snoring before breaking into a victim's hotel room.
"Based on security camera footage, we observed two suspicious individuals lurking around the hotels," a police source relates. "We suspected they were hiding out in the area around Kobe's Kokusai Kaikan, so we put plainclothes men in the area. After canvassing the district, we found a copy of Lai Zhenchun's passport on file at a hotel. Comparing his picture with the images picked up by the hotel's security camera that showed him inviting the other two to his room, we learned their identities."
By that time, however, all three suspects had returned to China.
But not long afterwards, the men flew to Fukuoka International Airport for another foray, and the immigration authorities there, armed with data from the Hyogo Prefectural Police, requested backup from the Fukuoka police. On Nov 9, the three were detained upon return to their hotel in Fukuoka.
Under questioning, the suspects admitted an "amazing" modus operandi for their thievery. Firstly, they searched for facilities that enabled them to go straight into an elevator without passing by the hotel's front desk. Entering late at night, they would pause outside the doors of rooms and listen for sounds of snoring emanating from within.
Liu Minzhong, 42, would then insert an elongated L-shaped wire 142 centimeters long under the door, which he skillfully manipulated to unlatch the auto lock's lever on the door. Then while the other two kept lookout in the corridor, the elder Liu entered the room and, disregarding the safe used to store valuables, instead helped himself to the victim's wallet, watch and other valuables at hand.
"Since the space under the door was wide enough to enable a newspaper to be slipped underneath, that gave enough space for Liu to slip in the wire," the aforementioned police investigator was quoted as saying. "It also enabled them to hear that the occupant was snoring. Once the door was open, all he needed was two, maybe three minutes at most.
"They also fashioned a plastic tool they used to slip off the inner security bar," he added. "Among the materials we confiscated were woman's stockings that we first supposed were being used as face masks, but that didn't make any sense. On further questioning they told us they put them over their hands to keep from leaving fingerprints."
The suspects told police they used the stolen cash to purchase electric appliances, cosmetics and medications, which they carried back to China and resold at a profit.
Nikkan Gendai's advice this time is a simple one: Snorers, beware!


Japan Today
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