'Ninja' burglar, 74, behind 8-year crime spree caught by cops in Japan, report says

Authorities in Japan arrested a "ninja" burglar believed to be behind hundreds of break-ins during an eight-year period in Osaka -- only to find out he was 74 years old.

Mitsuaki Tanigawa stole more than 30 million yen -- about $260,000 -- during the course of his crime spree, by mostly stealing cash as people slept, a unnamed police official told Agence France Presse on Wednesday. 

Authorities in Osaka had been stumped by the string of burglaries, with their only lead being surveillance footage of a thief with a neck-warmer pulled up to his nose. and a hood down to his eyebrows.

"He was dressed all in black just like a ninja," the unnamed official from Osaka's Kawachi police station told the AFP.

Cops got a break back in May, when his neck-warmer slipped and police were able to identify the "ninja" on camera. When police realized who the masked thief was, a search of criminal records revealed Tanigawa had a previous record of thefts, the official said.

As police began to tail Tanigawa, his alleged criminal patterns began to be revealed.

"Investigators watched him doddering out from his house like any other old man during daytime. He then went to an abandoned apartment room where he changed and waited until it got dark," the law enforcement official told AFP.

The official added: "When he came out in the dark, he was all in black...He did not take ordinary streets, squeezing through tight spaces between houses and running on the tops of walls."

Police said they were finally able to catch the agile thief as he was coming home at 4 a.m. from robbing an electronics store.

Tanigawa told police he embarked on his life of crime because he "hated working and thought stealing is quicker," the official said.

The burglar also boasted he only needed 10 minutes to break in to a house.

"If I were younger, I wouldn't have been caught. I'll quit now as I'm 74 and old enough," Tanigawa told police after his arrest.