UTSUNOMIYA -- Some 135 kilograms of luxury "Skyberry" strawberries valued at about 540,000 yen (around $5,200) were stolen from a strawberry farm in the east Japan town of Mashiko just before they were due to be harvested, according to Tochigi Prefectural Police's Moka Police Station on Dec. 24.
The police station said the strawberries were taken from plastic greenhouses at the strawberry farm, and the incident is the first of its kind this season. It also said it would beef up patrols in conjunction with related organizations.
According to the announcement, the affected business is Yoshimura Nouen managed by 32-year-old Soichi Yoshimura, a resident of Mashiko. At around 9 a.m. on Dec. 23, Yoshimura entered one of the plastic greenhouses to find that a large amount of strawberries had been picked. It has reportedly been confirmed that the thefts took place in three of the company's 12 plastic greenhouses.
The stolen Skyberry strawberries were ripe and soon to be harvested. It's also reported that from the evening of Dec. 22, no one at the business entered the plastic greenhouses, and that they weren't locked.
A source close to the investigation said, "As it appears the perpetrator was accustomed to the methods they used, it's possible someone who has experience in strawberry cultivation was involved (in the theft)."
(Japanese original by Soon Lee, Utsunomiya Bureau)