Photo/IllutrationSuspects identitified in the slaying and robbery of an 80-year-old woman in Tokyo’s Koto Ward: from left, Tatsumi Komatsuzono, Hiroki Sue and Yuta Sakai (The photo for Sue was provided by Jiji Press. The other two are from The Asahi Shimbun)

Three men arrested in a robbery/murder case involving an 80-year-old woman in Tokyo are thought to be members of the same group suspected of involvement in other recent robberies that targeted elderly people in the capital, police sources said.

The suspects were identified as Tatsumi Komatsuzono, a 27-year-old construction worker who lives in Kawasaki, Kanagawa Prefecture; Hiroki Sue, 22, unemployed with no fixed address; and Yuta Sakai, 22, who is also jobless with no fixed abode.

Police arrested the three men on March 13 in connection with the death of Kuniko Kato in the capital’s Koto Ward, and robbery of some of her possessions. Her body was found in her apartment on Feb. 28.

The suspects deny the allegations, police said.

Police said they suspect the three men forced their way into Kato's apartment, bound her hands and feet with tape and suffocated her.

Little of value appears to have been taken, and police placed the value of the robbery at a paltry 1,500 yen ($13.40).

The trio made off with the victim's apartment intercom, apparently so as to leave no record of their entry, according to the sources.

However, they overlooked a purse and an envelope containing a combined 1.5 million yen.

Police are trying to determine whether other items were also stolen.

Kato apparently received a suspicious phone call prior to the incident to ask about her assets.

Officers attached to the Metropolitan Police Department believe that two of the three men were also involved in another robbery in the capital's Shibuya Ward earlier this year, according to the sources.

The burglary in which their involvement is suspected occurred in Shibuya Ward’s Sasazuka district on Feb. 1. Three men broke into the home of an elderly couple and made off with 4 million yen in cash. The intercom inside the house was smashed.

Traces of perpetrators’ shoes left inside the couple’s house and their characteristics captured by a security camera were almost identical to those that Komatsuzono and Sue left at the crime scene in Koto Ward, the sources said.

The other robbery occurred in the ward’s Hatsudai district on Jan. 11. Three assailants burst into the home of an elderly couple and fled with about 20 million yen in cash. The couple’s telephone was broken.

An analysis of surveillance camera footage suggested that those involved in the Hatsudai case were not the three men arrested in connection with the robbery and slaying of Kato.

However, police believe the assailants probably are members of the same crime group and switch roles in robberies, depending on the case at hand.

Investigators are keen to locate those involved in the other robberies.

In all cases, a phone call was made to the homes of the victims in advance to inquire about their asset status.

Police confiscated a minivehicle that Komatsuzono, Sue and Sakai are alleged to have used to flee in the Koto Ward case. The vehicle was discovered at a site associated with Sakai in Nagano Prefecture, but its license plate had been removed.

Traffic surveillance footage showed the vehicle being driven to Nagano Prefecture, from where Sue and Sakai are originally from, via Kanagawa Prefecture, where Komatsuzono lived.