Boredom and isolation don’t just belong to teenagers anymore as a report from the Tokyo Metropolitan Police shows that there are now more elderly shoplifters than teenaged ones in Tokyo. This is the first time that this has happened since the police began keeping records about this particular crime.
Statistics show that 3,321 people aged 65 or older were arrested on suspicion of shoplifting in 2012, which accounted for almost a quarter or 24.5% of the total number of arrests. Those aged 19 or below accounted for 23.6% of figures, with 3,195 arrests made. Even though the total number of arrests have declined based on the statistics from 2011, the ratio of elderly people shoplifting is on the rise. While the statistics did not include reasons for shoplifting, the growing isolation of the elderly from society has been cited as a growing problem among that age group.
Of Japan’s estimated 128 million population, a quarter of those are already 65 years and older. What’s even more cause for worry is that the average birthplace replacement is at 1.39 children per woman, which is way below than what is needed to have a thriving society in the future. And for the greying population of Japan, life has never been harder now, with some blaming modernisation as the reason for fraying familial ties. A government survey showed that 3.5 million elderly women and 1.4 million elderly men now live alone. There are regular reports of elderly people dying and remaining undiscovered for weeks and months because they live alone. While all these may have no direct correlation to the increase in shoplifting, the figures from the Tokyo Police shows one part of an emerging picture of the life of elderly people in Japan.