According to the Yomiuri Shimbun, several Ksitigarbha statues were stolen from shrines around Kobe City between October 4th and October 10th. Nagata Police Station announced last Friday that they had arrested two men in their 20s in late October for stealing nine Ksitigarbha statues from shrines in Kobe and Hyogo and selling them at local pawn shops. Police said they would send the case to the public prosecutor's office.
Shuhei Iwamoto was busted for ripping off 80,000 yen (US$ 800) from a Gyudon (beef bowl) shop in Kobe in late October. During questioning, he allegedly admitted to a string of Ksitigarbha statue thefts. Police said he admitted breaking into several Ksitigarbha temples in early October and making off with seven Ksitigarbha statues. He later exchanged them for 3,000 yen (US$ 30) each in cash at a pawn shop.
Another burglar also began stealing after hearing from Iwamoto how he'd got cash for the statues. Hiroshi was arrested for stealing two Ksitigarbha statues after Iwamoto told police.
The Ksitigarbha statues have played an important roles in resident's lives since they were pulled from the debris of the Kobe Earthquake in 1995. The stolen statues were reportedly returned to their respective shrines after the arrests.
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