Primary suspect in at least 5 burglary investigations caught cold with stolen freezer
Pago Pago, AMERICAN SAMOA — A man charged with second degree burglary is remanded to custody on a 'no bail' status, after the court was informed by Immigration yesterday morning that his ID expired Feb. 6, 2019
Preliminary examination for Sitivi Opetaia is this morning in District Court.
His bail was initially set at $10,000 but after hearing about his illegal immigration status, Judge Elvis P. Patea ordered that Opetaia be held with no bail.
According to the government's case, police got a call from a man reporting a burglary on March 25.
The man told police that his neighbor informed him that an orange colored truck was parked behind his home, and people were carrying a white freezer chest onto the truck. The man said when he arrived, he discovered that the front door to his home was intact, but the back door of the kitchen was damaged, and upon inspection, he confirmed that his white freezer chest was gone.
According to him, the door leading to the living room was ajar and damaged with pry marks, and there were clothes in the living room that didn't belong to him or his family members.
It was the neighbors who described the vehicle to the man, who, through his own investigation, was able to determine that truck's license plate number, with a photo of the driver.
On May 1, the man's wife told police that she spotted the orange truck the day before, while she was at a laundromat. She said she took photos of the truck and the driver, and sent them to the neighbor for confirmation. Another neighbor who lives behind the couple also confirmed the identity of the driver, and the truck he was driving on the day of the alleged burglary.
An inspection of the license plate of the truck revealed that the plates are registered to another vehicle, and therefore, the truck was operating with false plates.
An APB was put out for the orange truck which was later stopped and escorted to the DPS Tafuna substation. The driver was identified as Faalataua Taua'i, the same person in the photos taken by the victim's wife.
According to what Taua'i told police, he was on his way from behind a home in Vaitogi/ Iliili when Opetaia approached him and asked if they could pick up an icebox from Pavaivai. He said that after they picked up the icebox from the victim's home, he dropped Opetaia and the icebox off behind a residence in Vaitogi.
He said he saw Opetaia unload the icebox from his truck and placed it on a shelf near a blue and white shack with a rusty roof. The witness told police that he suspects that Opetaia stores all the items he steals, in that shack.
According to police, Opetaia is the primary suspect in at least 5 separate burglary investigations, and perhaps all the stolen items from those cases are stored in the shack in question.
Opetaia has allegedly admitted to stealing the freezer in this new case.