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After tip from the public, cops bust man with long criminal history

American Samoa District Court building

Pago Pago, AMERICAN SAMOA — The government has charged a 32-year-old man who has a long criminal history, with unlawful possession of marijuana, public peace disturbance, and attempted burglary, for trying to break into a store in Tafuna.

Alema Toia made his initial appearance in District Court last month. He is charged in two separate cases: attempted stealing and third degree property damage in the first case; and unlawful possession of methamphetamine (meth) and unlawful possession of marijuana in the second case.

Bond for Toia is set at $10,000.

According to the government, cops were tipped off by a man who reported that a male tried to break into a store in Tafuna by using a metal pipe in an attempt to open the store’s back door on Apr. 11, 2021.

Police responded but were unable to locate the suspect. Two days later, the same caller contacted police again, saying the alleged culprit was within sight. When cops arrived this time, the witness pointed to the defendant who was sitting at a bus stop not far away from the store he allegedly attempted to burglarize.

Police approached Toia and asked if he could come with them to the station, however he ran to the back of a church and a foot chase ensued. Toia was eventually apprehended and transported to the Tafuna Police Substation (TPS) for questioning.

Prior to being taken to the TPS, a body search was conducted and two glass pipes containing a white crystalline substance and one small stamped size baggie containing 4 rolled cigarettes wrapped inside a blank white piece of paper were found in Toia’s right pocket.

Toia told police he got the marijuana cigarettes and the two glass pipes with meth from a friend, whose identity he did not reveal. When asked about the alleged attempted store break-in, Toia told police it was his male cousin who did it, not him.

Investigators are also looking into another burglary involving another store in the Tafuna area not far away from the location of the store where a witness allegedly saw the defendant trying to break in.

Witnesses told investigators that it was Toia and his two young friends that were allegedly involved in that burglary. When asked by investigators, Toia strongly denied any knowledge regarding the alleged burglary.