Quick work solving Tafuna burglary— suspect arrested
Pago Pago, AMERICAN SAMOA — A man accused of burglarizing a Tafuna store has been arrested, pursuant to a warrant from the court. Joseph Faapito, 26, made his initial appearance in District Court last week.
He is charged with first degree burglary and stealing, both class C felonies, punishable by imprisonment of up to 7 years, a fine of up to $5,000 or, pursuant to A.S.C.A 46.2101, a fine equal to twice the amount of gain from the commission of said crime, up to a maximum of $20K or both such fine and imprisonment.
Bail is set at $10,000 and a preliminary hearing is set for next Tuesday.
On Oct. 2nd, a police unit was flagged down in the Tafuna area by a male whose store and office had been burglarized.
According to the man, when he arrived at his office — located behind his store — he noticed that the door hinges had been tampered with; but he didn’t think much of it because the master lock was still intact.
He said he went in, turned the lights on, and noticed that one of his laptops, located on the table, was missing. Again, he said, he didn’t think much of it because sometimes his wife takes the laptop.
He then looked around and saw the laptop bag that was inside his bottom drawer, laying open on the floor. He said he knew something was wrong when he discovered that the window to his office was broken. That’s when he went out and flagged down a a passing police unit.
In addition to the laptop, other missing items included: two laptops belonging to the victim’s children; a check book; two iPhones; a flash drive; a multimedia speaker set; a camera; gold earrings; and several electronic items.
Police interviewed one of store’s female employees a week later. According to her, on the night of Oct. 7th, she got a call from her cousin who claimed he saw Joseph Faapito and several other boys dancing and hanging out at Lions Park, playing music on what may have been some of the stolen equipment from the burglary.
The female employee said she and her husband proceeded to Lions Park to assist her cousin in confronting the boys. She said she asked the boys about the stolen laptops and the multimedia speaker set, and they all said the laptop they had belonged to Faapito.
When the female employee looked at the multimedia speaker, she noticed that it had the store label on it. When the female employee asked one of the partygoers about the speaker, she was told that the speaker also belonged to Faapito, who was sitting under a tree, but ran away.
The female employee told two of the males to bring the laptop and the speaker and come with her to the Tafuna Substation.
When questioned by police, one of the males said that on the afternoon of Oct. 2nd, while he and Faapito were walking home after soccer practice, Faapito told him to wait in front of an unoccupied building while he goes to the store to buy them drinks.
Faapito returned and suggested to him that they break into the store after it closes that night. At a little past midnight, the male said he accompanied Faapito to the store. Faapito went in while he waited on the other side of the road. Faapito returned after 20 minutes with a bunch of stolen items in a backpack. The male claims he never entered the store during the alleged burglary.
That same night, Faapitoa is alleged to have called his girlfriend, asking her if she wanted to buy a laptop from him for $60. When questioned by police, the girl said Faapitoa came to her house and told her that he had a small laptop he wanted to sell her for $60.
She said she gave Faapito $60 cash and she didn’t think the laptop was stolen because Faapito told her it was a birthday gift from his aunt.
It was later confirmed that the laptop was taken from the store that was burglarized. When taken in for questioning, Faapito admitted to police that he went by himself into the store — without permission — and stole several items including laptops, speakers, iPhones, and other electronics.
He said he gave some of the items to the people he was drinking with, and sold the remaining items to his friends.