Vietnamese trainees shoplift goods worth $114,000 in Japan

By Phan Anh   March 21, 2019 | 12:40 am PT
Vietnamese trainees shoplift goods worth $114,000 in Japan
Aerial view of a street crossing in Japan. Photo by Shutterstock/ESB Professional
A Vietnamese gang of six is suspected to have shoplifted goods worth $114,000 from drugstores in Japan.

Japan Today reported Thursday that one of them, an unnamed 30-year-old woman, is said to have committed 38 counts of shoplifting, totaling 2,229 items worth around $58,600 in Fukui, Mie and Aichi prefectures last year.

The paper cited information from the Fukuoka District Court, where a trial has begun.

Investigators said the stolen items were primarily cosmetics, medicine and clothing items. The technical trainee would enter stores with a large shoulder bag and stuff it with up to 150 items in a single run, they added.

Police believe the woman was not acting on her own, but was part of a gang with five other Vietnamese nationals who also came to Japan under technical training programs. The five were men aged between 24 and 28, police said.

Together, the gang is suspected to have committed 109 counts of shoplifting across eight prefectures, stealing items worth around $114,000.

The stolen items were typically sold to Vietnamese social media users, police said.

The woman is likely to be deported once the trial is over, since she was also found to have overstayed her technical trainee visa without acquiring a Japanese residency permit.

Vietnam has surpassed China to become the largest group of technical intern trainees in the country, with around 127,000 in 2017, according to Japan’s Immigration Department.

But Vietnamese nationals also accounted for almost half of the foreign residents whose residency rights were revoked in Japan in 2017, according to a report from the Japan’s Justice Ministry in October last year. Many of them were found staying in Japan illegally after graduation.

The reputation of Vietnamese people living in Japan has also been tarnished following a 2017 Japanese police report that said they committed more crimes than any other foreign non-permanent residents in the country.

Police recorded 5,140 crimes committed by Vietnamese people in 2017, up from 3,177 the year earlier, accounting for 30.2 percent of the total number of crimes committed by foreign nationals.

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