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Joblessness blamed for burglaries says head of CID

The minimal job opportunities offered in the territory is the reason behind the burglaries occurring now; criminals resort to looking for income elsewhere, even if it means breaking the law. That’s the message from Captain Lavata’i Taase Sagapolutele who heads the Department of Public Safety’s Criminal Investigation Division (CID).

Lavata’i said burglaries were the most common cases CID encountered last year, with statistics for 2011 showing that cases investigated by CID were burglary at a high 93, followed by property damage with 47 and 30 for stealing.

However, Lavata’i said, burglary cases dropped in 2011, compared to 2010.

“In 2011 there were a total of 93 burglary cases, however in 2010 there were 169 cases that were referred to the CID, and these cases did not include the burglary cases that were reported to the patrol division.”

He attributed the drop in burglaries in 2011 to proactive police officers. “Police officers are extensively patrolling residential areas, government housing, and businesses more than usual, and this deters burglars,” said Lavata’i.

He explained that suspects involved in burglary cases usually admit to police that they are jobless and they need money, and that’s when they commit the crime.

“With the cases that are being investigated by the CID, it shows that criminals target mostly residences”. He explained that of the total burglaries, 51% were homes, 30% were government offices, 18% businesses and 1% were churches.

The police captain noted that, luckily, Samoans are church-going people, so they tend not to burglarize the churches. He said Tualauta County has the highest crime rate in the  territory, “with 40% for burglary cases, followed by Maoputasi at 22%”. 

He also noted that Tualauta is the most populated county.


The available DPS statistics do not break down the burglary cases into suspect ages, i.e. juvenile vs. adult.

In a recent Samoa News interview conducted with Assistant Attorney General Terrie Bullinger, who prosecutes juvenile cases, she said that a majority of the burglary cases involving juveniles happen because they are hungry and “want something to eat.”

 “They burglarized homes, stores and restaurants because they just want to eat”, she said.