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Man questioned about theft of copper from shipyard

rhonda@samoanews.com

Department of Public Safety is investigating a case that allegedly involves stolen copper and galvanized materials — worth between $20,000 -$30,000 — where a man was questioned on Monday in a case that has attracted the attention of the Governor’s Office.

Samoa News learned this week that police were reportedly questioning a man, an employee of the shipyard, who has since been fired, over stolen copper material — wire and pipes — allegedly stolen from the government-owned Ronald Reagan Marine Railways shipyard in Satala.

The theft, according to unconfirmed sources, was discovered during an inventory check of the yard, last Saturday.

Carlos Sanchez, chairman of the Shipyard Service Authority — the government entity that oversees operations and management of the shipyard — confirmed to Samoa News yesterday that an individual who allegedly took “copper and galvanized items” from the shipyard was questioned by police.

Sanchez said the estimated cost of the stolen copper is around $20,000 with other items taking the theft up to around $30,000, and the authority has been told that police are close to completing their investigation in this case.

Deputy police commissioner Leseiau Laumoli told Samoa News yesterday that the police investigation in this case is still ongoing and he cannot comment further without getting full details of the case because he does not want misinformation getting out to the public.

He said DPS is also getting calls from the governor’s office on this same case.

If any charges are filed in this case, it will be the first in the territory dealing with the theft of copper, and could possibly lead to the discovery of a ‘copper theft ring’ operating in American Samoa.

The first and only known attempt to steal copper occurred in March this year at an underground switch station belonging to the American Samoa Power Authority, which caused a power outage in the town area for a couple of hours.

The attempted theft occurred at the underground switch in the Sadie's by the Sea compound feeder. ASPA said at the time there was strong evidence that it was an attempted copper theft.

RELATED NEWS

News reports in March 2007, said that the Honolulu police uncovered what they said was possibly a major copper theft ring. According to the Honolulu Advertiser report, at the time, the stolen copper was being bought at $2 a pound, and the amount found was around 10,000 pounds.

Just like gold, copper prices are going up too, selling yesterday for over $4 a pound with scrap dealers paying as much as $3.90, according to Wiki Answers online.

Fili Sagapolutele contributed to this story.



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