Bears say only we can prevent forest fires, but they’ll help out when preventing robberies.
At around 2:50 pm on 23 May, three men ages 18 to 22 broke into a home in Utsunomiya, Tochigi. They then began assaulting the two 75-year-old women who resided there causing injuries. When violent invasion was all finished they ran off, taking with them a safe full of approximately 6.6 million yen (US$59,000) in jewelry.
Afterward, the trio were found by law enforcement in a car in Nikko City, about 50 kilometers (31 miles) from the scene of the crime. Tochigi Police gave pursuit in a helicopter as the fugitives tried to escape along the highway. In order to shake the chopper, they then ditched the car inside a tunnel on the highway and ran into the mountain forest.
And that’s when things went really bad for them.
As they ran through the woods the three men came face-to-face with a bear. And although they were tough stuff when it came to beating up elderly women, these thugs felt outmatched by the beast and quickly turned back the way they came.
However, in doing so they then came face-to-face with the 20 officers who followed them into the forest. Now trapped in a classic squeeze play, the trio realized that the choice between getting arrested and getting mauled to death wasn’t really a choice at all, and went with the police.
Online reaction was enamored with this tale of cooperation between law enforcement and bears.
“It was a care bear.”
“That’s like something out of a manga.”
“I suppose it is better to go to jail than be eaten.”
“It’s like a fairy tale: The cops, the robbers, and the bear.”
“That bear deserves a medal… or honey.”
“Eh, the police should have just let nature run its course.”
And so, the three criminals were transferred to the custody of Utsunomiya police where they face charges of robbery and assault which may lead to six years in prison. Although, luckily for them, it will at least be ursine-free.
As for that one heroic bear, it is said to have simply walked back into the woods when the chase had ended. I’d like to imagine that just as it turned to leave, one of the cops shouted, “Hey bear!” Then as the majestic creature turned its head to look back, the officer smiled and said, “…thanks” while giving a firm thumbs up.
It’s almost as heartwarming as the Akita who was willing to take on a bear (on the TV screen at least) for its family.