According to police, one suspect, identified as Shintaro Osaki, 20, from Mito, Ibaraki Prefecture, and a 20-year-old man (who was 19 at the time of the thefts), broke into Washinomiya High School in Kuki, Saitama Prefecture, on July 28, and allegedly stole 12 baseball bats and 120 balls worth about 220,000 yen.
Police said a third suspect, 19, was arrested last month, after he sold some of the stolen metal bats to a recycling shop. Police questioned him and that led them to the other two suspects.
Osaki also resold some stolen balls on an online auction site. However, when Saitama prefectural police contacted the winning bidders and asked to see the balls, they found that the purchased baseballs had the words “Washinomiya High School” on them.
Between mid-July and Aug 16, more than 9,300 baseballs and bats have been stolen from high schools in Tochigi, Saitama, Gunma, Ibaraki and Fukushima prefectures. The sports gear was stolen from storerooms belonging to the schools’ baseball clubs. In some cases, the doors on the storage cabinets were not locked; in other cases, locks were broken, police said.