The four individuals under investigation for possible involvement in the robbery of a Rolex specialty store in Tokyo's upmarket Ginza shopping district are aged between 16 and 19 and were unacquainted with each other, investigative sources said Tuesday.
The four were arrested Monday after being spotted near a minivan apparently used to flee from Quark Ginza 888, where more than 100 wristwatches are believed to have been stolen earlier that day. Their arrest was not due to the robbery but for suspected trespassing in a nearby apartment building in Tokyo's Minato Ward during their escape.
The Metropolitan Police Department have also confiscated smartphones owned by two of the four and are analyzing it to find out if the teens had been recruited for "yami baito," literally meaning "dark part-time work."
Another suspect in the robbery, which took place at around 6:15 p.m. on Monday, may still be at large, the sources said, after receiving eyewitness information that five people were spotted fleeing the scene of the crime.
One of the four in custody is 16, another is an 18-year-old high school student and the other two are both 19, the sources said. They are all residents of Yokohama, near Tokyo.
The sources said the high school senior denied trespassing in the apartment building, while the other three admitted doing so.
Some passersby appeared oblivious to the robbery, which took place at a time when the area was still busy with pedestrians.
"I thought there was a shooting of a movie. I initially could not believe it was an incident," said a 35-year-old Tokyo man, who witnessed the masked individuals ransacking the store despite some people watching them from outside.
Eyewitness footage shows three masked individuals carrying what appeared to be crowbars, which they used to smash display cases before putting the luxury watches in black bags and fleeing in a waiting minivan. The video also shows passersby being verbally threatened as the robbers left the scene.
The police found the minivan about 3 kilometers from the store, the sources said, adding that it is believed to be a rental vehicle with a switched license plate.
They found and seized a black bag near the minivan containing around 30 watches and are confirming whether the watches are those stolen from the specialty store, the sources said.
The minivan's bumper was damaged, suggesting it had been in an accident, the sources said.
The police said that a mask similar to those worn by the three people in the footage was also found in the area in Minato Ward where the four were apprehended.
As the four arrested wore different clothes from the three who broke into the specialty store, they may have changed their attire following the incident, such as while inside the minivan, the sources said.
None of the five sales staff in the store at the time of the robbery was injured.