Business couple jailed for accepting stolen goods

A business couple who provided a “market for thieves and burglars” by accepting stolen goods from them, are heading to the Tanumalala Prison.

Daqun Ye, of China and Fagali'i and his wife, Palepa Tulaga, of Vailoa Faleata, were sentenced this week by Justice Leiataualesa Daryl Clarke. 

They pleaded guilty to four charges of knowingly receiving stolen goods worth $5,733.40 sold to them by former employees of GM Bakery. 

The third co-defendant in the matter, Wayne Wu, got away with a conviction and 12 months supervision. 

He pleaded guilty to one charge of knowingly receiving stolen goods worth $2,340. 

It is Wu’s defence that the goods were received by his staff on behalf of the business that he is a Manager of. 

The defendants who were represented by Tauiliili Harry Schuster all operate shops in Upolu and Savai’I. 

The stolen goods were sold by men that had worked for GM Bakery to the shop owners in Fagalii and Vailele. 

In his decision, Justice Leiataualesa said it is his observation that those who appear for theft as a servant and related offences of dishonesty sell their stolen goods to commercial stores. 

“The commercial stores who receive and pay for these stolen goods provide a market for thieves, burglars and other criminals to sell the fruits of their crimes,” he emphasised.

The Supreme Court Judge spoke about the ignorance of commercial stores in receiving the stolen goods.  

“Commercial stores who purchase goods ‘off the street’ so to speak must have systems to identify that the goods they are purchasing are not stolen,” he said. 

“In many cases, it seems a blind eye may be turned or there is willful ignorance to the source of the goods so that the commercial stores buy the goods at a very low price, itself suspicious, to maximise profit when it is resold at retail value. 

“That practice must be deterred and commercial stores under no illusion that they must take appropriate steps to guard against the goods they procure, particularly on the off the street basis, being stolen goods.” 

In the case of the young couple, Mr. Ye, 26, and Ms. Tulaga being 24, they accepted the stolen goods on four separate occasions. 

The woman had looked after their shop in Savai’i while her husband managed the one in Apia.

Justice Leiataualesa pointed out that businesses that provide such market for thieves and burglars are not ignored by the law. 

“If commercial operators knowingly provide this market for the thieves and burglars to offload the fruits of their crimes, then they must understand that doing so will be sternly dealt with by the Courts,” he said. 

“While the value of the stolen goods they have received is the same as that stolen by a number of the GM Bakery employees, I accept that a lower start point is appropriate. 

“This is because theft as a servant has a 10 year starting point for sentence and receiving stolen goods has a maximum penalty of 7 years imprisonment.”  

In terms of the third defendant, Mr. Wu, the Judge said he was negligent in receiving goods that were stolen.

Mr. Wu, 37, who is the Manager of the CK Mart at Fagalii, has a prior conviction in 2015 for theft. 

He has been sentenced to 12 months supervision on the condition that he carries out 150 hours community work as directed by probation service. 

The three defendants have paid restitution of $10,000 each to GM Bakery. 

According to the summary of facts, between 30 April 2019 and 1 July 2019, Mr. Wu received thirty gallons of 20kg Ox and Palm Dripping value at $78 tala each a total value of $2,340. 

Originally from Quandong China, Mr. Wu claims that the goods were received by his staff on behalf of the business that he is a Manager of. 

As for the couple Mr. Ye and Ms. Tulaga, they received stolen goods from employees of GM Bakery on four occasions with total amount of $5,733.40 

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