April 29, 2009

The Kaselehlie Press

Pohnpei, FSM - While Pohnpei Jesuits were out to dinner on Sunday, April 19, thieves entered the Jesuit House residence and stole over $1000 in cash. The burglars also stole a watch, a flash light, and an expensive cell phone.

Brother Dave Antonelli said that over the weekend, properties occupied by the Catholic Church were burglarized in the area of the Jesuit House. In addition to a burglary at the Jesuit House, the Pohnpei Catholic School was burglarized. Would be burglars were also chased from the grounds of the Catholic Church over the weekend but no identification could be made of the three males who attempted to enter the church building.

At the Jesuit House burglars removed one section of wood trim before cutting the "security screen". They removed the glass louvers from the window and crawled into the room that the Jesuits use as a guest room.

Bishop Amando Samo is visiting Pohnpei for confirmations. He didn't bring very much money with him from Chuuk to cover travel expenses. All that he did bring with him was stolen on Sunday night. He had decided that he didn't need a rental car while performing his duties in Pohnpei but the check to pay for a car had already been cashed for him. The money was in his locked room. The largest portion of the money taken in the evening's burglary was taken from his room.

Thieves ranged the hallways of Jesuit house going from room to room and taking whatever they could carry. Father Dave Andrus, Father Frances Hezel, and Brother Antonelli each had small bowls with loose change in their rooms. Each of the bowls contained no more than five dollars. The thieves took that money as well. Another of the priests was relieved of $50 that was in his room.

Antonelli rarely uses his watch so it was in his room. The thieves cut the screen on his window in two places in order to access his locked room. They took his watch along with his bowl of change and a couple of one dollar bills.

Father Andrus and Father Hezel had not locked their rooms. Other than their small bowls of change they had very little in their rooms that might have interested thieves.

Antonelli said that thefts at the Jesuit House, the Pohnpei Catholic School, and the Convent in Kolonia are not at all uncommon.

He said that the room where one of the Sisters lives at the Catholic School has bars on every window except for a small bathroom window on the second floor. Not too long ago thieves carried a long ladder belonging to the Western and Central Pacific Fisheries Commission down the street for more than a block and used it to access that bathroom window while the Sister was off island. Antonelli said that the thieves ransacked the room but couldn't take anything large out of the room due to the size of the window and because the deadbolt on the front door requires a key on both sides of the door. It's the kind of protection that was deemed to be necessary in the area in order to protect against theft.

On Monday, April 20, Antonelli pointed to what had once been a small ledge on the second floor of the Jesuit House. The maintenance man used concrete to eliminate the ledge because thieves had on several previous occasions used the water tank to gain access to the ledge which they then used as a foothold in order to climb into the second floor corridor of the building sometimes while residents were occupied in other parts of the building.

The foothold no longer exists and thieves can no longer gain access that way.

On Sunday night the thieves relieved Bishop Samo of his Blackberry cell phone. That technological device helped police to apprehend a suspect in the burglary, a minor who, at press time had been released to the custody of his parents. One of the detectives said that investigators went to FSM Telecom and checked the history of the phone. A follow up on that history led them to the suspect.

Antonelli said that the Jesuits had called the cell phone several times mainly to see if the thieves had dropped it somewhere on the grounds. They walked around the grounds hoping to hear the cell phone ring after dialing the number but they never did. He said that a young child answered the phone once but after a few moments the connection was severed.

Director of the Department of Public Safety Lucas Carlos said that some of the stolen property had been recovered.

A Pohnpei Police Detective said that fingerprints taken from the scene also helped them with their investigation.

Police could not release the name of the suspect because he is a minor.