A Buddhist scholar who stole 61 statues from places of worship in and around Tokyo over the past three years because he felt they were "lonely," has been arrested, police said.
Zenpo Suzuki, 46, unemployed of Hanno, Saitama Prefecture, has been sent to the Kawagoe Branch of the Saitama District Public Prosecutors Office on accusations of theft.
He admits to the allegations.
"The statues looked so lonely, I wanted to take them in and look after them," he told the police.
Suzuki has five degrees - at least one of them in a postgraduate course -- in various types of Buddhism studies. He claims to be able to communicate with the statues.
"If I talk to them, they answer me," police quoted him as saying. "If they tell me they're cold, I give them clothes to wear."
Police said the specific charges for which Suzuki was arrested involved the thefts of statues from Buddhist temples in Hanno on Dec. 20, Jan. 5 and Jan. 20.
Police said that Suzuki has stolen 61 statues with a combined value of around 10 million yen from temples and churches in Tokyo, and the surrounding prefectures of Saitama, Chiba and Kanagawa since around the spring of 2005.
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