Nine Saitama Gas Stations Robbed during 4-hour Spree

Police said Thursday they are looking for two men who are suspected of robbing nine gasoline stations in Saitama Prefecture during a 4-hour period on Wednesday morning.

According to police, the first robbery took place at about 1 a.m. at a gas station in Uesato-cho. Surveillance camera footage showed two men in masks breaking into the office with a crowbar, NTV reported. Police said they were unable to open the office safe and eventually left the scene.

Eight other robberies occurred over an 80-kilometer distance until 5 a.m., police said. Two cash boxes containing 240,000 yen each were stolen from a gas station at Fukayashi. Robberies were also reported in Kawagoe. In all, the financial losses were estimated at 750,000 yen, police said.

Thieves raid evacuation areas pillaging through homes and even ATMs

Fifty-six ATM thefts have been reported in the three disaster-hit Tohoku prefectures since the March 11 earthquake and tsunami, with the amount of money stolen totaling 684 million yen, according to the National Police Agency. About 420 million yen, or 60 percent of the money, was stolen from within 20 kilometers of the Fukushima No. 1 nuclear power plant. Deserted in the wake of the disaster, ATMs in convenience stores and financial institutions in the area in particular have become targets for theft. According to the NPA, further ATM thefts are unlikely to occur as cash left at empty stores and banks has now been collected.