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Pair arrested over theft of baseball bats, balls from high school club

Police investigating the theft of a massive amount of baseball equipment from schools in Fukushima Prefecture and the Kanto region arrested two men on Oct. 2 on suspicion of stealing bats and balls from a high school in Saitama Prefecture.

The men, Mito resident Shintaro Osaki, 20, and a 20-year-old construction worker from the same city whose name was withheld because he was a minor at the time of the theft in July this year, were arrested on suspicion of theft and trespassing.

Police specifically accused the suspects of stealing 12 metal bats and 120 balls with a combined value of roughly 220,000 yen from a storeroom of the baseball club at Saitama Prefectural Washinomiya High School in the city of Kuki between around 8:10 p.m. on July 28 and 7 a.m. on July 29. Police have not disclosed whether the pair have admitted to or denied the allegations against them.

Police said a 19-year-old man whose address is unknown, who described himself as a construction assistant was arrested on Sept. 10 on suspicion of selling two metal bats that were stolen from Washinomiya High School to a recycling shop. The names of the two other suspects surfaced in subsequent investigations. The three are said to have belonged to the same baseball club at their junior high school in Ibaraki Prefecture.

Investigators said Osaki and the man whose address is not known sold a total of 37 metal bats to two recycling shops in Ibaraki Prefecture in July and August. Osaki and the construction worker also allegedly put up at least one ball bearing the name of Washinomiya High School for sale on an internet auction site in July.

Since July, some 9,300 balls, 31 bats and six gloves valued at a total of about 2.84 million yen have been stolen from 20 public and private schools in Saitama, Tochigi, Fukushima, Ibaraki and Gunma prefectures. Police are investigating a possible connection with the latest case.

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