“Parents and guardians, know where your children are.”
This is the call from St Joseph’s Primary School’s acting principal to the public after there was an alleged break-in at the school over the weekend.
Police confirmed three 14-year-old boys were caught on Sunday night; they are alleged to have broken into classrooms and an office at St Joseph’s Primary School.
The three are now assisting police with inquiries into a string of offences, including recent incidents involving stolen motorbikes and expired flares.
St Joseph’s acting principal Savenaca Tukitoba said he saw three young boys trying to enter his office through a window, when he went to school on Sunday night to get some work done.
Tukitoba saw them removing louver blades from the office windows. One of them had already entered the office.
He said this was at about 7pm.
“They didn’t realise I was watching them. They were focused on where the lights were turned on and maybe they were expecting to hear bikes,” Tukitoba said.
He then got closer to three boys and turned on his phone flashlight.
“They were surprised. I told them to come with me to the car,” he said.
Tukitoba said a parent heard him talking to the boys and helped him take them to the police station.
He said one of the culprits was a former student of the school and was now a college student.
Tukitoba said the three boys broke into three other classrooms where they took pencils and a school jacket. One of them used the jacket to cover himself.
He confirmed that nothing was taken from the principal’s office.
The group had been cycling around the area for the past few weeks, according to one of the schoolteachers.
Tukitoba further revealed that this was not the first break in.
Last month, his laptop went missing from his classroom, a louver was missing from the window and this was also reported to police.
This time, it was lucky that he decided to go to the school, he said.
Tukitoba said these young ones could be from unstable homes, single parents or are being looked after by grandparents while their parents are overseas.
“It’s important that parents know where their children are especially at their age.”
Tukitoba is also urging the public and the community to work with parents and guardians to help the juveniles and guide them in the right direction.
He added that it is important to work together and ensure such incidents don’t happen to other schools on the island.
In the weekend, police chased three youths on a motorbike at upper Tupapa traveling towards Matavera with no lights on - they are alleged to be the same group who broke into the school.
Reigning Miss World Oceania and Cook Islands Tajiya Sahay, whose partner’s motorbike was stolen on Saturday night, also called on the community to work together.
“We need to work as a community and figure out strategies to get to the bottom of our youth stealing.”
Police also gave out a stern warning to young offenders and called on parents and guardians to play their part after a break in at a storage facility at the Avatiu Harbour this month. Forty expired flares were stolen from the storage facility and 13-15-year olds were interviewed by police in connection to the incident.
Punanga Tauturu coordinator Rebeka Buchanan earlier said it was important that the relevant authorities look into the background of the offending child and let community leaders know what is going on with youths from their area.