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Police arrest man who allegedly said he needed money to buy beer for his gang

American Samoa District Court building

Pago Pago, AMERICAN SAMOA — A young man accused of burglarizing one home and two stores in the Tafuna area was arrested last week and is now in custody.

Tavita Malaesaili made his initial appearance in District Court, on two counts of first degree burglary, two counts of stealing, and two counts of third degree property damage.

Judge Elvis P. Patea established a $15,000 surety bond.

If able to post bond, Malaesaili is to remain law abiding, not leave or attempt to leave the territory, and he is not to make any direct or indirect contact with the government’s witnesses, including the victims.

According to the prosecution, Malaesaili’s alleged burglary spree continued from Apr. 21, 2019 until June 11, 2019.

During that time period, he allegedly burglarized one home and two Asians stores in Tafuna, using a stone and a knife to pry open the back doors in order to gain entrance inside the structures during nighttime hours.

On Apr. 21st, Malaesaili allegedly broke into a Tafuna home and took off with several items including a laptop, phones, clothes, shoes, watches, jewelry and $421 cash.

On May 4th, he struck again. This time, he is alleged to have broke into an Asian store in Tafuna, stealing canned foods, two cartons of cigarettes, and $239 cash.

Then on June 11th, Malaesaili forced his way into another Asian store and stole food and a case of beer.

Police were able to obtain footage from surveillance cameras at both Asian stores. An employee from one of the stores was able to identify the suspect by the tattoo on his left hand.

Malaesaili was apprehended by police during a drinking session with two males in front of a Tafuna store.

During an interview with investigators, Malaesaili allegedly admitted to the allegations. He told police that the reason why he did it was because he needed money to buy beer for him and his gang.

Preliminary hearing is next Thursday.