Rima’s Takeaway owner Rima Moeau, says a brazen offender broke into her main road shop, through the front door around 1am on Sunday, September 24.
The temptation of a few colourful soft-drinks, some loose till change, and frozen food proved too much for the offender, but his break-in provided the clues needed to solve a spate of crimes in the Punanga Nui market end of Avarua town.
“He was (pictured) on the camera looking around, Moeau said. “And thanks to a clear CCTV recording of the offender, he was later identified by police.”
A police spokesperson said Vaikaloa Taufahema appeared in court last Thursday. His lawyer withdrew from representing him and he was remanded back into custody. Taufahema is to find another lawyer and will reappear in court on November 23.
It was not the only crime allegedly committed in the area by Taufahema.
Another business owner who does not wish to be identified had electronic equipment and a cell-phone taken in a similar break-in nearby.
According to the business owner, who received their cell phone back from police a few weeks after the break-in, the phone’s password lock was changed by the perpetrator, but his SIM card was still inside.
After transferring the SIM card to an unlocked phone, the owner was able to access the contacts on the SIM. The information was then handed over to police to assist their investigation.
Moeau says the police are doing their job, but there is no real deterrent. “The problem here is the law is too soft.
“I want the law to be tough, not just from the mouth, but in action. So they know not to do it. If young people have a proper punishment, then they will choose not to commit crimes.”
Meanwhile, police media liaison officer Trevor Pitt says thanks to the dedicated hard work by the Police Service, the fight against burglaries is paying off.
And he says the number of reported burglaries on the island is actually declining.
“Last month’s statistics support an overall trend that burglaries have been in decline over the past four years.
“In comparison to 2013, for example, burglaries over a 12-month period have dropped by 67 per cent from 319 to 105 so far this year.
“Although there are still two months to go to close the record books for 2017, police are determined to keep the incidents below last year’s total of 116.”
He adds that for the month of October, police responded to seven burglaries, compared with 14 for the same period last year.
Aside from the spate of burglaries targeting businesses in September, Pitt says most recent burglaries have been at private dwellings.
He says police value the continued cooperation of the public in tracking down offenders as information and details provided by witnesses and victims can be vital in closing cases.
“The security of the community depends on this close and cooperative partnership between the police and public.”