Year old burglary cases may have been solved after recent PPD arrest
Pago Pago, AMERICAN SAMOA — A man suspected of burglarizing two stores in the Tafuna area along with a store in Nu’uuli within a period of one week around May of last year is now in custody, after he was arrested last month for disturbing the public peace.
During his arrest last month, officers discovered a glass pipe inside his pocket containing white crystalline substance, which later test positive for methamphetamine (meth).
Faalupega Aleki was served with copies of his outstanding warrants when he appeared in court for his initial appearance.
Aleki, 29, is charged with two counts of first degree burglary; two counts of stealing; one count of first degree attempted burglary; and one count of conspiracy to commit burglary in the first degree — all class C felonies — punishable by imprisonment of up to 7 years, a fine up to $5,000, or, pursuant to A.S.C.A 46.2101, a fine equal to twice the amount of gain from the commission of said crime, up to a maximum of $20,000 for each count.
He is also facing one count of unlawful possession of meth, an unclassified felony, punishable by a term of imprisonment of not more than five years not more than ten years, a fine of not more than $20,000, or both, along with three counts of third degree property damage, all class A misdemeanors.
Bail is set at $20,000.
On May 16th, 2020, police received three reports of two houses and a store being burglarized.
According to the government, on the day in question, the first victim (owner of store), called and told police that she could hear someone trying to break into her store. She said she, her husband, and child were asleep, when she heard banging inside the store, so she got up to see what was going on.
The victim said when she opened the door, she saw two males trying to pry open the back part of her store, which is closed off with metal bars — screwed into the cement — to prevent break-ins.
She said although the culprits damaged some of the rebar, nothing was taken. She added that a woman who lives nearby saw the attempted break-in and yelled at the men, which caused them to flee. An hour after the first report came in, another store owner called police, claiming that two men broke the front door to his grocery store — in the same area as the first reported incident.
One week later, the second victim contacted the Tafuna Police Substation (TPS) for assistance regarding two men who attempted to break into his house.
The second victim’s story was the same as the first victim’s. He and his family were sleeping when he heard noises from the back of his house so he went to check it out.
He said he looked at his laptop — which had the feed from the surveillance camera — and saw two males, with covered heads, pulling the house’s back door. The culprits also broke off the house’s exterior surveillance camera from where it was mounted and left with it.
Police viewed the video footage and observed two males grabbing the front door and pulling on it, before breaking it wide open and then attempting to enter.
When asked why the men couldn’t get in, the victim said it was because he was standing on the other side of the door holding two metal pipes, prepared to defend his wife and their young child.
While at the scene of the second incident, police received a third call about a break-in at a store, also in the same area.
According to the victim, she heard dogs barking and when she came out to see why, she saw two men breaking the glass window of her store, located across the street from where she, her husband, and their two children reside. The victim showed police the surveillance video, which recorded two men with rocks approaching the store and breaking the glass window, before reaching in and taking stuff.
Investigators found broken glass at the scene, as well as a trail of blood, which the store owner said belonged to one of the alleged burglars. The victim said the damage to the window cost $150, and the two men took off with 5 boxes of candy and 2 boxes of gum, worth $183.
Officers were unable to locate the two alleged burglars. However, over a year later — last month — one of the alleged burglars, Aleki, was arrested for disturbing the public peace in Vaitogi, and during an interview, investigators discovered that there were outstanding warrants against Aleki for the crime he allegedly committed last year.
When questioned by investigators, Aleki agreed to discuss the incidents where he and his companion broke into two stores and a house last year.
Aleki told police that he and his friend were drinking near the ocean, when his friend asked him if they could rob the store, located not far from where they were. Aleki said he told his friend they wouldn’t be able to get in, because the store is secured with metal, but his friend said he knew a way to get in.
According to Aleki, they first went to the store and attempted to break in; however, they were chased away by the owner and a woman who called out to them from the other side of the road. Aleki said they went home that night with empty hands.
However, one week later, his friend came to him and said that they must “attack” the second victim’s house, which is the house of a businessman. After they attacked the house of the second victim, they continued on to a store in the Nu’uuli area and stole several items from inside.
Aleki admitted to police that they stole some items from the two stores and the one house they burglarized. For now, police are still looking for others involved in this case.
Before Aleki was taken into custody when he was apprehended by cops last month, he was patted down for weapons or illegal drugs, and during the body search, cops discovered a glass pipe containing meth inside his pocket.