Bridge nameplate thefts rattle Shizuoka

TOKYO, Sep 23 (News On Japan) - A wave of bridge nameplate thefts has swept across Shizuoka Prefecture, with 90 of the metal plates stolen so far this month.

Authorities report that the plates had been forcibly removed, "judging from the fact that the base of the plate is bent."

Locals first noticed the nameplates on Nakahiramatsu Bridge in Iwata City missing on Sep 3, and contacted the city, which confirmed that all four plates from the bridge, two each side, had gone missing.

The total number of cases in Shizuoka Prefecture, spanning six cities since last month, is 90, with the damage bill reaching 4.66 million yen. Police are investigating the thefts with the possibility of resale in mind.

The bridge nameplates are primarily made of copper and brass which have surged in price due to demand from electric vehicles (EVs) and solar power generation.

A recycling company CEO suggested the purchase price for a single bridge nameplate would range from 2,500 yen to several thousand yen, saying "(Copper and brass) have tripled in price compared to 20 or 30 years ago."

He said his company requires identification when purchasing metal, but there are unauthorized dealers who do not.