Man jailed for stealing employer’s property

By Joyetter Feagaimaali’i-Luamanu ,

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Court House Mulinuu.

Court House Mulinuu. (Photo: Misiona Simo/Samoa Observer)

A man has been sentenced to three years imprisonment for stealing $30,000 worth of construction and engineering equipment from his employer.

The stolen items include a .22 rifle and a 12-gauge gun.

Appearing before Justice Vui Clarence Nelson in the Supreme Court yesterday, Taeao Luteru of Gataivai Savaii and Pesega pleaded guilty to burglary and theft as a servant.

According to the Police summary of facts, Luteru hired a Dyna truck and broke into the complainant’s residence, where he proceeded to load the stolen property onto the truck. 

“He stole over $28,000 worth of materials mostly construction and engineering equipment but also including a .22 rifle and a 12-gauge shotgun. 

“What the defendant did not factor in was the complainant’s neighbour witnessed his activities and identified the defendant as the thief. 

“It is clear from what the defendant did that his intention was to steal many of the complainant’s properties and cause him substantial loss,” stated the Police summary of facts.

The Court heard that the defendant told the probation office that he committed the crime as he was not satisfied with his working conditions and his employer did not sort out his National Provident Fund savings. 

But Justice Vui noted that the defendant is a grown man and this was not his first job. 

“Even if I believe what he says, he knows far better than to steal as a remedy for his issues. 

Burglary and theft as a servant are age-old problems in this country, and is why the Court has said on many previous occasions, especially in relation to theft as a servant that the normal penalty will be prison—here there has been a significant breach of trust.” 

Justice Vui noted that the defendant grossly abused that trust by committing the crime. 

“There has also been premeditation in the offending, in that the defendant knew when the employer and his wife would be absent from the property, for a period of time. He hired a truck beforehand to carry out his purposes. This is a case of planned and calculated stealing.” 

All of the stolen property have been recovered and returned to the complainants. On the charge of theft as a servant, the Judge said the defendant is convicted and sentenced to three years imprisonment. For the charge of burglary, following a similar process convicted and sentenced to two years, but the terms are to be served concurrently.

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