Police in Sapporo, Japan, are on the hunt for a serial urinal grate thief.
The thefts: From May 16 to 30, a total of 38 urinal drain grates from 16 public restrooms were stolen, according to Yomiuri Shimbun. The specific urinal grate parts being stolen are called “eye plates,” which are placed at the bottom of urinals to prevent trash and other large objects from entering the drain.
The thefts took place in park restrooms near Sapporo’s Okadama Airport, including Moerenuma Park in Higashi Ward and Takuhoku Himawari Park in Kita Ward. While a number of the stolen grates were replaced immediately, the newly installed grates were stolen again from June 6 to 8.
Police have determined a single perpetrator is responsible due to key patterns in the thefts, which include the close proximity of the crime locations to one another and the timing of the thefts.
Possible motives: Investigators remain unsure of the thief’s intentions. With each eye plate costing 680 yen (approximately $4.90), a Sapporo city official questioned why the perpetrator would go to such lengths to steal the urinal drain grates.
An eye plate manufacturer suggested that the stainless steel from the drains could be sold as metal. However, a metal buyer in Sapporo revealed the purchase price of stainless steel has decreased to 20 to 100 yen (approximately $0.14 to $0.72) per kilogram.
Local response: In light of the thefts, the Sapporo East Police have stated they will continue their theft investigation by increasing patrols and analyzing nearby security cameras.
Sapporo City residents have also shared their confusion and frustrations with the thefts. “I don’t know the reason at all,” a 69-year-old resident stated. “I want you to stop [stealing] in the toilet in public places.
Another resident shared that the thefts have caused clogs due to foreign objects in the drains. “It’s annoying,” he expressed. “I want you to take care of it.”