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» Installing security cameras to catch thieves in the evacuation zone

Authorities in Fukushima Prefecture are installing security cameras to deter and catch unscrupulous thieves targeting homes left vacant by residents who fled after the accident at the Fukushima No. 1 nuclear plant.

Thefts and break-ins in evacuated localities around the nuclear plant have become so rampant that at least town has been forced to beef up security using money intended to rebuild the community.

The town of Namie in Fukushima Prefecture in February installed a camera on a support pillar of a utility pole to record the license plate numbers of vehicles entering and leaving the area. The town installed cameras at seven other locations.

The measure was taken to deter not only thieves but also to prevent motorists from breaking through a barricade to satisfy their curiosity about what was happening in the town, according to a Namie official.

The towns of Okuma and Futaba, co-hosts of the Fukushima nuclear plant, the town of Tomioka and the village of Katsurao are taking similar measures. They all have districts located within 20 kilometers of the nuclear plant.

The five localities reported a combined 212 thefts in 2013. The figure included 192 break-ins, more than fourfold the number in 2010.

As of June, police had reported 107 theft cases in these localities this year.

Authorities say the actual number of crimes is likely much larger because some evacuees cannot confirm the situation at their homes.

Theft cases in the affected areas are expected to rise further after the central government lifts the restriction on travel on National Route No. 6, which runs along the coastal area of Fukushima Prefecture.

The anticipated rise in traffic on the route prompted local governments to introduce the cameras.

Okuma will put up surveillance cameras at 40 locations, including the town’s center and key roads, and automatic number plate recognition cameras at 18 sites by year-end.

A security company will manage the cameras and dispatch security guards if suspicious individuals are detected. Police will be notified if a vehicle enters the town without an authorized pass.

The Okuma town government earmarked about 725 million yen ($7.14 million) for the current fiscal year for the security measure. The money will come from national coffers intended to revitalize local economies hard hit by the 2011 triple disaster.

Tomioka will start operating surveillance cameras and automatic number plate recognition cameras at 44 locations as early as in August.

Katsurao plans to install surveillance cameras at 11 sites by the end of this year. Futaba is also preparing to introduce the devices by that time.


<Media Report>
Fukushima towns use cameras to halt surge in thefts at evacuees’ homes (Asahi Newspaper)

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