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Doll thief gets seven years!

For months last year, a man ravaged shops and restaurants in central Japan, assaulting employees and making away with life-sized figurines of a plump fictional character called "Peko-chan."

india Updated: Sep 07, 2005 18:01 IST

For months last year, a man ravaged shops and restaurants in central Japan, assaulting employees and making away with life-sized figurines of a plump fictional character called "Peko-chan."

On Wednesday, Hiroyuki Cho, 39, was convicted and sentenced to seven years in prison for ordering the thefts of the dolls worth 1.2 million yen (US$10,900; euro8,800).

In May, Cho's partner, Tetsuji Shibuya, was sentenced to 5 1/2 years in jail for the theft of the 15 dolls. The two were charged with robbery resulting in bodily injury.

The crime spree from May to July last year wasn't just for love of Peko-chan.

Cho and Shibuya belonged to a national crime ring selling stolen dolls to avid collectors willing to pay top yen. Vintage, decades-old Peko-chan dolls can be found on auction Web sites for hundreds of thousands of yen (thousands of US dollars). Not that Peko-chan isn't adorable in her own right. The overalls-wearing mascot of the Fujiya cakes and sweets chain is a chubby girl with her tongue sticking out of the side of her mouth. Fujiya was founded in Tokyo in 1910, and Peko-chan made her first appearance 50 years ago. The dolls are displayed at nearly all of Fujiya's 950 stores in Japan.

First Published: Sep 07, 2005 18:01 IST