If at first you don’t succeed, just keep breaking in, was motto of alleged burglars
Pago Pago, AMERICAN SAMOA — A man suspected of burglarizing three stores in the Tafuna area is now in custody, after he was arrested last month, pursuant to a warrant from the court. During his arrest, cops discovered drugs in his possession.
The government has filed two separate criminal cases against the defendant, Wallin Taavili.
In the first case, Ta’avili, 25, 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 three counts of third degree property damage, a class A misdemeanor.
In the second case, Taavili is charged with one count of unlawful possession of methamphetamine (meth) and one count of unlawful possession of marijuana (weed), both unclassified felonies, punishable by imprisonment terms from 5-10 years, a fine of up to $20,000, or both.
Bail is set at $20,000 and the preliminary hearing is next week.
On Oct. 29, 2020, police received three reports of stores being broken into and burglarized.
According to the government, on the day in question, the first victim called and told police that she could hear someone trying to break into her store.
The victim said when she opened the door, to check out the noise, 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.
The second victim’s story was the same as the first victim’s. He and his family were sleeping when he heard noises 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 heads covered, pulling at the store’s front door. The culprits also broke off the store’s exterior surveillance camera from where it was mounted and left with it.
Police viewed the video footage and saw 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 hammers, prepared to defend his wife and their young child. While at the scene of the second incident, police received a third call of yet another break-in at another 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 was $250, and the two men took off with 5 boxes of candy and 2 boxes of gum, worth $190.
A few months passed before Wallin Ta’avili was contacted by police, whereby he admitted that he, with his friend Fred Williams broke in, or attempted to break in, to all three stores for the sole purpose of stealing.
Taavili told police that he and Williams were drinking near the ocean, when Williams asked him if they could rob the first store, located not far from where they were. Taavili said he told Williams they wouldn’t be able to get in, because the store is secured with metal, but Williams said he knew a way to get in.
According to Taavili, they attempted to break in at the first store; however, they were chased away by the owner and a woman who called out to them from the other side of the road. Taavili said that after they left that store, Williams told him to continue their mission to two other nearby stores.
Ta’avili admitted to police that they stole some items from the last two stores they burglarized, and sold them to one of his friends for beer. For now, police are still looking for others involved in this case.
Before Taavili was transported to the Tafuna Police Substation (TPS) for questioning, he was patted down and during the body search, cops discovered a glass pipe (commonly use to smoke meth) containing white crystalline substance inside Taavili’s front right pocket. Also discovered was a small stamp-sized baggie containing green leafy substance.
When questioned about the drugs allegedly found in his possession, Taavili told investigators that he found the glass pipe containing meth outside of the first store they tried to rob. So he decided to put it in his pocket. For the baggie containing marijuana leaves, he told investigators that his friend Williams gave him the baggie to hold while he (Williams) was trying to break into one of the stores.