POLICE COMMANDER CALLS INCREASE OF CRIMINAL ACTIVITY “ALARMING”
The increase of criminal activities in the territory is alarming, says Commander of the Criminal Investigation Division, Lavatai Taase Sagapolutele. “The crime rate for 2012 has increased 9% compared to the year 2011”. The Commander noted that in 2011, 74% of criminal cases were reported to the CID and in 2012 it increased to 83%.
The Commander said for 2012, a total of 406 criminal cases were reported and investigated by the CID. Of that number, 337 were criminal offenses while 69 were non criminal offenses, such as runaways and missing person reports.
“The leading criminal activities that have been reported and investigated by the CID are burglaries and stealing cases, followed by property damage cases. Sexual offenses are third and assault cases come in fourth place. These are the top four kinds of criminal acts committed last year” he said.
Lavata’i said it’s the businesses that are burglarized the most, followed by residential burglaries and then government property, like the government offices. “What’s really disturbing is the fact that it’s the youth that are committing these burglaries and stealing crimes.
“Such worries are linked to anxiety about drugs, permissive childrearing, hedonism and declining academic standards” he said. “The cases tell me that when these youth see something they want, they go after it, they have no regard who owns it or the consequences of their crime, all they think about is how to get it” he said.
In one of the burglary cases involving a young man, Chief Justice Michael Kruse said that there’s a certain setting of criminal activity that is just so prevalent — which are the burglaries involving youth. He said homes are being burglarized as well as businesses and the court is tired of this behavior.
Regarding property damage cases, the Commander said when the businesses, homes, offices and other properties are burglarized, the culprits enter the buildings by damaging property.
“Not only the culprits would damage the buildings to gain entrance, but they vandalize what’s inside the building and then leave with items,” he said. Recently Leone High School was vandalized and school material, which cost thousands of dollars was destroyed, said the Commander.
Sexually related cases are the third highest crime rate and this necessitates urgent action, and calls for an urgent need to find ways of stemming the growth in sexual violence in the territory. “These sexually related crimes are mostly occurring within families, yet this is where our children should feel safe and secure. “However with some families this is not the case,” said the Commander.
He said that the increase of sexual crimes reported to the CID is mainly because the victims are willing to come forward and file their complaints against those who are committing the crimes. He said that most cases that are brought to the CID for investigation are statutory rape cases.
He explained “adults that engage in sexual intercourse with minors, 16-years-old and under — it’s illegal, they will be arrested and charged. It’s a crime”.
Lavata’i quoted the law regarding statutory rape, “Having sexual intercourse with a person who was 16 years of age or less, in violation of A.S.C.A. 46.3604(a)(2), a class B felony punishable by imprisonment for five to fifteen years”.
“Alcohol is a major factor in the increase of assault cases” he said. Many people who engage in fighting are under the influence of alcohol. Some assault cases are minor, while others are severe — and in most cases, the suspects are overly intoxicated.
The top four criminal activities occur the highest in the most populated county in American Samoa, Tualauta, which includes the villages of Tafuna (Petesa, Ottoville, Kokoland, Fagaima), Iliili, Vaitogi, Faleniu and Pava’ia’i.
The second highest county where such crimes occur is the Launiu Saelua county — Aua, Fagatogo, Pago Pago, Atu’u and Satala.
Ituau county comprising the villages of Nu’uuli, Fagasa, Faaneanea and Matu’u comes in third.
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