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11.13.2006

Tokyo Story 2: Mugging Nerds

The capital’s thousands of comic-, robot-, and tech-geeks make easy targets for muggers, says the Tokyo Metropolitan Police Department. These helpless nerds, known as otaku, once enjoyed safe haven in Akihabara, Tokyo's electronics and pop-culture mecca. But now their home turf is teeming with so-called “nerd-hunters”, as police have officially dubbed them. For an area where street crime was virtually unknown, this year’s tally of 25 reported otaku-muggings is tantamount to a crime spree.

Otaku are popular with muggers not for their geekiness but for their wealth: the Nomura Research Institute recently reported that otaku spend about $3.5 billion each year on comics, anime DVDs, robots and other gadgets. Police say the muggings have increased dramatically since criminals discovered that otaku generally carry thick wedges of cash to spend in Akihabara.

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