Hard times for clan? Japan’s yakuza caught stealing food

Hard times for clan? Japan’s yakuza caught stealing food
The great and powerful Japanese yakuza are apparently going through a rough patch, as two members of a criminal clan were caught shoplifting from a grocery store in Japan.

The pair was arrested at a mall in the city of Nagoya in central Japan last month for attempting to steal grocery items, police said on Tuesday, as cited by Mainichi and Asahi Shimbun newspapers.  

The men, aged 52 and 59, were members of the recently formed Kobe Yamaguchi-gumi gang, the country’s third biggest crime group, according to police estimates from 2016.

The men were reportedly trying to steal 198 supermarket items worth 76,120 yen ($680). They packed the food, which included a watermelon, rice, and eel, into a shopping basket and reportedly tried to leave without paying.

One of the men arrested said they had to steal “so that the group would survive,” newspapers reported, citing police.

Kobe Yamaguchi-gumi made the headlines back in 2015, when it split from Japan’s biggest criminal clan, the century-old Yamaguchi-gumi. With some 6,100 members, it is only surpassed by its parent and the Tokyo-based Sumiyoshi-kai group, the National Police Agency (NPA) reported back in 2016.

According to local media, the new clan has managed to spread its influence into 36 out of 47 Japanese prefectures.

The split triggered escalating hostilities between the former allies back in 2016, when fighting between rival yakuza was seen in many prefectures.

READ MORE: Gang war fears: Largest Yakuza syndicate's 1st split in 30 years confirmed

The yakuza run many offices disguised as private companies throughout Japan. The interests of criminal syndicates vary, from racketeering and gambling, to prostitution, drugs, and illegal weapons sales. Other criminal activities they engage in involve financial fraud and the construction business.