Matsukichi Tsumaki (1901-1989), aka "Sekkyo Goto" (The lecturing burglar), broke into numerous Tokyo homes in the early years of the Showa Era (1926-1989).

He earned this moniker for his habit of waking his sleeping victims to lecture them on their inadequate home security measures.

Typically, his admonition would go something like this: "Your home is poorly protected. You ought to get a dog." Or, "You need outdoor lighting."

His trick was to first calm his victims with such talk, and then force them to hand over their money. Whether it was due to his gift of gab or the ease with which he could convincingly play a truly caring and sympathetic individual, Tsumaki reportedly pulled off nearly 100 such successful stunts until his arrest in 1929.

Earlier this week, Ryuji Takahashi, a 38-year-old senior police officer at the Yamashina Police Station in Kyoto Prefecture, was arrested on suspicion of swindling a man in his 70s out of a total of 1.18 million yen ($109,600).

I imagine Takahashi took full advantage of his status to win the man's trust.

"I am holding on to your money for safekeeping," he reportedly assured his victim.

Actually, the latter had once been a victim of a reported fraud attempt, and it was Takahashi who handled the case. Because of this history, Takahashi knew the man had sizable assets.

After getting the man to hand over the 1.18 million yen "for safekeeping," Takahashi reportedly continued playing the solicitous police officer with phone calls, asking after the man's health and so on.

Cases of special fraud, such as phone fraud, have recently become quite clever and diversified, with perpetrators pretending to be police officers, government officials or representatives of financial institutions.

And now, a real police officer has joined the ranks of those crooks.

Come to think of it, we are starting to see occasional cases of theft and attempted kidnapping in which actual law enforcement officers abuse their status.

I understand that after his release on parole, Tsumaki gave lectures on crime prevention at police stations around the nation.

Will it someday become necessary to advise people to be wary of police officers? Let's hope not.

--The Asahi Shimbun, June 20

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Vox Populi, Vox Dei is a popular daily column that takes up a wide range of topics, including culture, arts and social trends and developments. Written by veteran Asahi Shimbun writers, the column provides useful perspectives on and insights into contemporary Japan and its culture.