Elderly victims of theft seek answers

An elderly couple at Tiapapata, whose home was broken into and thousands of tala worth of properties stolen from, continue to wait for answers from the Police.

The crime was committed at the house owned by Dr. Penelope Schoeffel and her husband, Leasiolagi Dr. Malama Meleisea, last month.

The thieves stole items valued at more than $6,000 including an iPad, seven valuable rings (wedding ring), a chain saw, alcohol and NZ$200 cash.

Speaking to the Samoa Observer, Dr. Schoeffel expressed disappointment with the Police’s handling of their complaint.

“Our home was broken into on 26th November,” she said. “My husband and I went to the Police station in town and we were told by a Police officer at the reception to go to the Police station at Faleata.

“It turns out she was too busy chatting to her friends to pay attention to what my husband told her.”

When the Meleiseas arrived at Faleata, they were redirected back to the Apia Police station “where we reported the crime again.”

The experience, Dr. Schoeffel said, has left a bad impression of the Police in their eyes.

“It was a bad experience,” she said.

But it gets considerably worse.

When the Police finally turned up at their house, “we told them who the likely criminals were and where they lived.”

Leasiolagi filled the paper work on the 27th November and listed the thousands of dollars’ worth of stolen property.

 “The Police eventually sent a photographer after we had tidied up,” she said.

Fast-forward to today, the couple is still waiting for answers.

This is why they have decided to raise the matter publically.

 “We heard that men armed with bush knives had broken into a neighbour’s place last week,” said Dr. Schoeffel.

“The neighbour told us that four suspects had been arrested for that break-in.

 We rang the police who said they had not investigated our case yet, even though ours happened nearly a week before the neighbor’s.”

She claimed that the neighbour had connections to the Police and “another big name” in the legal profession.

Asked for a comment, Police Commissioner Fuiavaili’ili Egon Keil said they are investigating the complaint by the Meleiseas.

 “At the same time there are many other obligations the Police are tasked with and it is taking up resources such as assisting the health officials with the measles epidemic,” Fuiava said.

 “There are crimes happening everywhere and all the time. The rate is increasing at this point, and we are responding to every call we receive.”

The Commissioner did not have the details of the progress of their investigation into the Meleiseas complaint.

But a week away from Christmas, the elderly couple is not optimistic they will get their answers on who robbed their home.

They do know what happened.

 “They got in by throwing rocks at the dogs, climbing the gate, breaking in to a storage shed under the house for the chain saw, taking out a ladder to climb up to the back verandah, forcing a door there,” said Dr. Schoeffel.

“They clearly knew our house well. There are groups of men from a settlement nearby who pass it every day on their way to the forest in front of our house where they have plantations and collect firewood.”

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