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Cops net man with long criminal history after recent store break-in

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Pago Pago, AMERICAN SAMOA — The government has charged a 29-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.

Anetipa La’aloi made his initial appearance in District Court two weeks ago. He is charged in two separate cases: attempted stealing and third degree property damage in the first case; and unlawful possession of methamphetamine and unlawful possession of marijuana in the second case.

Bond for La’aloi 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 throwing rocks at the back door on Oct. 26, 2020.

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 standing under a tree across from the store.

Police approached La’aloi 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. La’aloi was eventually apprehended and transported to the Tafuna Police Substation for questioning.

Prior to being taken to the TPS, a body search was conducted and two small baggies containing a white crystalline substance and another baggie containing 5 rolled cigarettes wrapped inside a blank white paper were found in La’aloi’s right pocket.

La’aloi told police he got the marijuana cigarettes and the two baggies of meth from a taxi driver, whose identity he did not reveal. When asked about the alleged attempted store break-in, La’aloi told police it was his twin brother who did it, not him.

Investigators are also looking into another burglary involving another Asian 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 La’aloi and his two young friends that were allegedly involved in that burglary. When asked by investigators, La’aloi strongly denied any knowledge regarding the alleged burglary.