Sorry!! The article you are trying to read is not available now.

Island's First-Ever Bank Robbery Stymies Police

Print comment Post Comments

Though famed bank robber Willie Sutton never actually told police he targeted financial institutions "because that's where the money is," the sentiment seems to made it down to a few like-minded folks in the South Pacific.

Law enforcement officials on the island of Aitutaki are "no closer" to solving the atoll's first-ever bank robbery, in which either USD$164,000 or USD$16,400 was stolen (someone's fat-fingering their keyboard again down at the Cook Island News) last week.

The island's mayor, John Baxter, "is convinced that none of the island's God-fearing 1,800 residents were responsible" for the heist.

"It's a very sad occasion or event that has happened," he tells Radio New Zealand. "I think it is the first time that any of the banks have actually ever been robbed on this small island of Aitutaki and, as I said earlier on, everybody knows everybody and I suspect whoever has done this does not live on the island."

View Larger Map

Investigators believe the money was stolen one night during the week (police commissioner Maara Tetava "would not confirm the bank was only secured by a single padlock").

“Our reconstruction of the case itself we believe that the person responsible may have had prior knowledge of the layout of the bank," Detective Inspector Areumu Ingaua told reporters. "And we also believe because of the large amount of money stolen that the offenders may be talking about it with friends and associates, and spending more than usual."

If the branch's layout was anything like its larger sibling on the island of Mitiaro, being unfamiliar with the layout of the bank might prove to be almost impossible:

As for taking note of folks "spending more than usual," one would imagine the staff at Aitutaki's largest Superstore has their eyes peeled:

Aitutaki has an interesting background -- and certainly not one that would appear to foster a culture of criminality. According to Australian media, Aitutaki "has always been celebrated for its piousness," as the island, which is now home to almost two dozen churches covering roughly a dozen faiths (Protestant, Mormon, Roman Catholic, Seventh Day Adventist, Baha'i, Apostolic, Assembly of God and Jehovah's Witness) was "one of the first places in the South Pacific to accept Christianity."

No flights are allowed in or out of the island on Sundays, which ever-so-slightly narrows the search:

However, in the event an airport stakeout is required, extra manpower shouldn't be necessary:

Aitutaki has not been completely devoid of crime up to now. A local arts-and-crafts store owned by a woman known as Aunty June was robbed of a laptop, petty cash, liquor, and canned corned beef just two weeks ago.

This, after approximately 50 islanders met with police at the end of July to discuss crime prevention and solutions.

Some suggestions:

  • Put an added emphasis to sport.
  • Have traditional leaders become more involved with shaming young offenders.
  • Bring in corporal punishment, such as whippings or beatings.

In case the whippings and beatings don't work, Aitutaki might consider bringing back the evangelists who first arrived in the late 1700s.

"Before the missionaries we were always fighting each other," Aitutaki resident Tunui Mati tells the BBC. "After they came there was no more trouble.”
POSITION:  No positions in stocks mentioned.