TOKYO (majirox news) — Burglaries in the 20-kilometer (12.4 miles) Evacuation Zone around the radiation-leaking Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant from the March 11 Great East Japan Earthquake to the end of August rose 27-fold compared with 2010, the National Police Agency (NPA) said Sept. 11.
There were 722 reported burglaries during that span, 27 times the number reported in the area during the corresponding period last year.
Burglaries increased while overall crime rates declined in the prefectures most affected by the earthquake, tsunami and nuclear crisis.
Despite the alarming Evacuation Zone burglary increase, police do not expect the trend to continue, especially as entry into the area has been illegal since late April.
Police believe the majority of burglaries in the Zone occurred in the immediate wake of the disasters and subsequent evacuation of residents from the area around the radiation-spewing Fukushima Daiichi plant, and were discovered when these people were given permission to temporarily return home only to find their possessions had been stolen.
“Nearly all the evacuees have had their turn to go home, so there will be no significant increase in burglaries from now on,” an NPA spokesman said.
An NPA report issued Friday on police and public safety activities in the six months since the March 11 disasters showed that overall violations of the Criminal Code had dropped from 14% to 16% in Iwate and Miyagi prefectures, while in Fukushima prefecture the total number of crimes fell by 19%. In Fukushima, however, burglaries throughout the entire prefecture rose by 50%, the vast majority of which were reported to have occurred in the Evacuation Zone.