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Sniffng out the culprits

The allure and aroma of pupils' shoes has led to thousands being stolen from schools in Japan.

Last month a 28-year-old man was arrested in Nagoya on suspicion of stealing 180 pairs of mostly girls' school slippers from schools in the district.

In Japan, most elementary and middle school children change into more comfortable school "day shoes" on arriving. Police say suspect Masashi Kamada's car had been seen near schools following reports of the mass disappearance of such day shoes earlier this year and last year. They followed Kamada into a school where they witnessed him taking shoes down from shoeboxes just outside the school's main doorway.

A search of his home revealed 360 shoes, neatly filed in closets which filled most of Kamada's living room. They later discovered a warehouse, rented by Kamada, containing 5,000 pairs of children's shoes. Kamada's motive was similar to that given by a policeman arrested for shoe theft the previous month. Osaka police officer Norifusa Nakanishi was arrested for stealing a boy's shoe from an elementary school in Osaka in September. "I was stressed out and smelling a shoe is my way to release stress,"

Nakanishi said.

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