KYOTO -- A police sergeant under arrest on suspicion of swindling an elderly man out of a total of 1.18 million yen on two separate days contacted the man's bank the day before he accepted the second lot of cash, apparently to make the withdrawal easier, police said.
Under arrest on suspicion of fraud is Ryuji Takahashi, 38, a sergeant at Yamashina Police Station in Kyoto Prefecture in western Japan. Kyoto Prefectural Police are investigating the possibility that he deliberately abused his trusted position as a police officer to make the victim's withdrawal of a large amount of money easier.
Takahashi is accused of taking money from the elderly man at his home in installments of 5 million yen and 6.8 million yen on Nov. 8 and Nov. 15 last year, respectively, telling him, "I'll keep the money and look after it." He denies having swindled the man, the prefectural police's second investigation division says.
According to the division, Takashi phoned the financial institution on Nov. 14 last year, and identified himself. He then said, "The man really wants to withdraw his money, so could you please somehow handle the procedures?"
The first time the elderly man withdrew his cash, the financial institution suspected he was the victim of special fraud and notified prefectural police. Investigators suspect Takahashi contacted the financial institution the day before the second withdrawal so that the financial institution wouldn't file another report.
The financial institution confirmed that Takashi was working at Fushimi Police Station in Kyoto at the time, and complied with the withdrawal request. Takahashi was not on duty on Nov. 15, and is said to have visited the man's home in plain clothes to collect the money.
When questioned over why he handed the police officer the money, the elderly man was quoted as telling prefectural police investigators, "There were no concerns about the money getting stolen from a police box (where Takahashi worked)." He added, "Interest at the bank is low, and when the amount gets big, you can't easily make withdrawals or deposits. I thought that if I left it (with Takahashi), then I could use it freely." His comment led prefectural police to suspect that Takahashi abused the man's trust in police.
A resident in Takahashi's neighborhood said that Takahashi's father was also a police officer. A woman in her 70s commented, "Last fiscal year he worked as an executive of a local neighborhood association, and I thought he was a good person. I'll end up not being able to trust police officers.
(Japanese original by Hiroshi Odanaka, Satoshi Fukutomi, and Kanae Soejima, Kyoto Bureau)