Local man charged in four different burglaries
A man is held on bail of $65,000 and is facing multiple charges in connection with four different cases that allegedly occurred between August to November 2009. Joe Pitolau made his initial appearance in the District Court yesterday before Associate Justice/District Court Judge John Ward.
Pitolau is represented by Assistant Public Defender Karen Shelley while prosecuting this matter is Assistant Attorney General Kimberly Hyde.
FIRST CASE: ALLEGED BREAK INTO ECE CENTER IN 2009
According to the government’s case on August 27, 2009, police received a call about the break-in at the Early Childhood Education (ECE) in Fagatogo.
A teacher at the ECE told police, while conducting an inventory of the equipment in the lab, she noticed that four laptops and two computer speakers were missing. The government claims the break-in took place between the time the Center closed Wednesday, August 26, 2009 and the following day when the stolen items were reported missing.
The government claims that the laptops were estimated to be valued at $1,100.00 each. Police investigation claimed that the defendant along with two juveniles broke into the ECE.
The juveniles told police they were passing the ECE center and noticed that the ECE compound gate was open. They went inside the compound and entered the ECE Office through the back door to the office, which Pitolau pushed open. They saw two laptop computers and they took them.
The defendant, Pitolau, admitted that he took one laptop and computer speakers while the other juvenile took the other laptops.
Pitolau told police when they left the ECE center, they went to the Pavilion at the Fagatogo field but they hid the laptops near Rainmaker Hotel for Pitolau to pick up the next day.
Police went with Pitolau and seized two laptop computers, which was later verified as belonging to the ECE Center and Ray’s Audio Shop.
In this matter a bail of $20,000 was set and the defendant was charged with burglary and stealing.
SECOND CASE: ALLEGED BREAK INTO E-RATE DOE OFFICE IN 2009
This matter is alleged to have occurred on September 16, 2009, where the defendant is accused of breaking into the Department of Education E-rate office and removed four laptops. It’s alleged that an employee of DOE received a call about the defendant and several other boys dancing and hanging out at the Pavilion playing music from a laptop and multimedia speakers.
The employee approached the crowd and saw that the laptop and speakers had the government seal on it. It’s alleged this was when the defendant ran away. The DOE employee took a juvenile along with the laptop and speakers to the police station. The juvenile was taken back to his parents where they were informed of the situation.
The juvenile told police that Pitolau suggested they go into the ECE office to get school supplies. The juvenile said, Pitolau tried to pry the window but it cracked and they entered. The juvenile admitted to police that he took speakers while Pitolau took four laptops and they exited through the window.
The juvenile said Pitolau sold one laptop to a female for $60. The woman told police the defendant sold her a laptop saying that it was a gift from his father. The woman said he gave Pitolau $60 in cash.
The laptop had since been turned into the police as evidence, which an employee of the E-rate office has confirmed this was one of the items stolen from their office. A employee of the DOE took the defendant into the police station, however Pitolau refused to make a statement.
The defendant in this matter is charged with first degree burglary and stealing and held on bail of $20,000.
THIRD CASE: ALLEGED BREAK INTO WESLEY BOOK STORE IN 2009
This matter is alleged to have occurred on November 2, 2009, in connection with a burglary at the Wesley Book Store in Fagatogo. According to the government’s case, the defendant had entered the building by breaking a cement board that covers the top of the door frame.
The complaining witness told police that upon arriving at the bookstore, he saw rubbish on the floor from paint scraps and rotted wood. Two other rooms had holes in it including the storage room.
The only items missing were some cross pins worth about $3.00 a piece. The government claims that the cost to repair the damages is in the value of $150.00.
Its alleged that on January 20, 2010 Pitolau had voluntarily gone into Central Station to be interviewed, where he told the police his involvement in the Wesley Book Store burglary. The defendant admitted to the police that he and another person broke into the Wesley Book Store.
Pitolau admitted to the police that his friend kicked in the board that was covering the area above the door. Pitolau went on to say that while inside they just looked around but did not take anything when they left.
In this matter Pitolau was charged with burglary, stealing and property damage and bail in was set at $5,000.
FOURTH CASE: ALLEGED BREAK IN DRUG STORE IN 2009
This case allegedly occurred November 12, 2009 in connection with a burglary at the drug store in Faga’alu. Its alleged the culprits entered the building by removing a piece of masonite from the ceiling.
According to the government’s case there were also items that had been dammaged and the total value of the items stolen was $1,995.75. The items stolen included whey products, phone cards, jewelry, cologne and aftershave, slippers, candy, sunglasses, purses, CD players, sodas and water.
The government claims that police received a tip implicating Pitolau in connection with the Drug Store Burglary. Court affidavit states that the defendant initially denied involvement however during the second interview Pitolau told police what allegedly took place.
Pitolau said he and three boys were walking home from the hospital, when they decided to burglarize the Drug Store. Pitolau said the other boys were on the lookout for police at the bus stop across from the hospital intersection.
According to the government’s case, Pitolau admitted that he and his friend entered the Drug Store through the ceiling by removing the masonite.
Pitolau said he took eight Old Navy Slippers, rings, and earrings and placed them all inside his backpack. Pitolau said his friend also took old Navy Slippers, earring, rings, creative powder and phone cards.
Pitolau said he is no longer in possession of anything that was stolen from the Drug Store and he forgot who he gave it to. The government is charging Pitolau in this case with burglary and stealing with bail set at $20,000.
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