Thieves spoiling Pacific Games experience

It is undeniable. Regardless of the event or the occasion, there will always be people who want to spoil something, which everyone has worked so hard to ensure its success.

And so far, despite the few glitches here and there, which is normal in any event of this magnitude, Samoa can genuinely be proud of what it has done to stage the XVI Pacific Games currently underway on these shores.

But it takes one bad apple to spoil the bunch. And that’s precisely what has happened with the disturbing incidents of theft, one of them featuring on the front page of the newspaper you are reading today.

It’s extremely disappointing. The truth is that over the past months, most people of this nation have put their best foot forward and have gone the extra mile to show the best of Samoa to the thousands of visitors who are our guests this week.

Four days into the competition, our visitors have seen that. Many of them have been so impressed by Samoa’s spirit of hospitality and openness they have been nothing but expressing their gratitude and heartfelt thanks.

But incidents of theft reported on the pages of your newspaper during the past two days would have undoubtedly soured the experience for some of our visitors. On the bigger scale, it has undone a lot of that good work by Samoa. In other words, these mindless criminals, which is a minority, are putting to shame the hard work done by the Government, churches, villages and everyone in this country to make sure the hosting of these Games are successful.

The first sign of trouble emerged yesterday with a story titled “Police investigate theft of athletes' personal effects.” Confirmed by the Commissioner of Police, Fuiavaili’ili Egon Keil, the team affected was New Caledonia who apparently had some of their personal effects stolen.

“We are investigating the incident," Fuiava said. "We are not ruling out any suspects until we are certain of this case. And while we are looking around we are also looking at the camp as well."

The Commissioner confirmed that the items stolen, from the Games Village, include a phone and other "personal belongings." Now incidents of theft where phones are taken happen every day – not just in Samoa.

But the story on the front page of today’s newspaper tells us something a lot more sinister is going on.

This time Police Commissioner Fuiavailiili said a man has been arrested after he was found to be in possession of stolen property. What’s even more alarming is that the man had a fake accreditation and was wearing a uniform belonging to one of the participating countries.

"The suspect captured was wearing a uniform for one of the teams,” Fuiava said. “He also had on him an accreditation; and we are working with the Pacific Games office.”

Understandably, the Commissioner said it was disappointing to find "fake accreditation" in the possession of the man they arrested. But this points to something far more sinister than just an opportunistic thief.

“There will be more arrests in the future,” he added.

In the meantime, the Commissioner has assured thousands of Pacific Games visitors to Samoa that their safety and that of their properties remain their priority.

“The police are more into checking accreditations now," he said. “Everything is under control, that I can assure our people.”

Well that’s good to know.

There is so much good being done and a lot of work has been put in by this country to ensure this event is memorable for all the right reasons.

Let’s not spoil the fun, everyone needs to ensure the focus of the Pacific Games is on the stars of the show, the athletes who are winning medals and making us all proud. And there are many of them.

Have a super Thursday everyone, look after yourself and your belongings, God bless!   

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