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Elderly crime in Japan surpasses teen cases, police say

Among the cases of elderly crime, violent crimes rose in the double digits.

By
Elizabeth Shim
Worshippers pray for victims in front of the monument Cornerstone of Peace of the battle of Okinawa at the Peace memorial park in Itoman, Okinawa, Japan, on June 23. Japan's elderly population is growing, and crime cases involving senior citizens are on the rise, according to police. Photo by Keizo Mori/UPI
Worshippers pray for victims in front of the monument "Cornerstone of Peace" of the battle of Okinawa at the Peace memorial park in Itoman, Okinawa, Japan, on June 23. Japan's elderly population is growing, and crime cases involving senior citizens are on the rise, according to police. Photo by Keizo Mori/UPI | License Photo

TOKYO, July 17 (UPI) -- More of Japan's elderly are stirring up trouble for police, and their crimes are surpassing those involving teenagers.

According to statistics from the National Police Agency released Thursday, police dealt with 23,000 elderly suspects in the first half of 2015, but fewer than 20,000 teens, BBC reported.

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Elderly crime surpassed teen crime for the first time since 1989 when police began collecting the statistics, Japan's Kyodo News Agency reported.

The statistic is defying trends.

Senior-citizen suspects rose by 2.7 percent from January to June even as total crime was down 8.8 percent from the previous year, to 539,009.

At the current rate of decline, crime in Japan could fall below a record low set in 1973.

Among the cases of elderly crime, violent crimes rose in the double digits, up 10.8 percent from 2014. Murder and robbery jumped 11.8 percent.

Japan is witnessing an increase in its 65-or-older population. Tokyo has said more than a quarter of Japan's 127 million people are nearing retirement age.

Japan's Justice Ministry has stated criminal offenses committed by those age 60 and over quadrupled to 46,243 cases over two decades in 2014.

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Many are serving jail terms for minor offenses, such as shoplifting. Under Japanese law, repeat offenders who shoplift can serve up to a five-year sentence, and a thief of an $8.30 bento lunch box could cost the country $134,160 for a maximum prison sentence.

Japan's elderly who shoplift are likely to commit minor crimes to escape feelings of loneliness and social isolation.

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