He’s a somelier of stinky shoes.
A man in Hokkaido with an alleged penchant for stealing odorous footwear has been arrested after police used security camera footage to identify him.
Reports dated April 13 identify the suspect as a 41-year-old company worker named Hajime Okazaki. A resident of the Hokkaido city of Tomakomai, Okazaki is alleged to have stolen a single pair of women’s shoes from the shoe boxes located in front of the gymnasium of an elementary school in Noboribetsu City, Hokkaido.
Police say the suspect trespassed onto school grounds after the students had left for the day and the gymnasium was opened up for use by local residents.
Following numerous reports of missing shoes, the local residents installed a security camera at the entrance to the school gymnasium. It was the footage obtained from this camera that led police to identify the suspect as Okazaki.
The footage shows a man on all fours carefully sniffing the shoes found in the gymnasium shoe boxes one by one before settling on one pair and placing it into a bag.
Okazaki was arrested on April 11. He has admitted to the allegations, reportedly telling police “I’m interested in the smell itself. Man, woman, it doesn’t matter.” and “I wanted to smell it so I stole it.”
Meanwhile, the female victim who had her shoes stolen told Hokkaido News UHB, “At first I thought he took them to sell them, but… it’s so disgusting.”
After searching Okazaki’s residence police found 20 more pairs of shoes that did not appear to belong to him. Among these, police report they found a pair of size 28 men’s shoes.
Police are currently investigating whether Okazaki is responsible for any other crimes, including two or three other similar incidents that occurred at the school and a number of other cases involving missing shoes at other nearby locations.