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Natural Resource Science Field Station Burglarized


On Tuesday, December 9th, the National Resource Division’s field station and laboratory was burglarized. Dwayne Minton, Ecologist, and head of the Natural Resource Division arrived at the War in the Pacific Maintenance Building around 6:45 am, opened the gate that surrounds the maintenance compound and the field station. Upon entering the field station, Dwayne was shocked by what he saw.

Almost all the cabinets were opened, items were strewn on the floor, all of the desk drawers appeared to have been rifled through. It looked like an earthquake had hit the room, but broken glass on a ranger’s desk was the telltale sign of a forced entry through a window. Among the missing items were an four digital cameras, a Nikonos V underwater camera, a Sony PC-110 digital video camera, and all their associated docking stations, cables, lens, accessories, memory cards, and carrying cases. Underwater housing units for the cameras were also taken. The thief also made off with the Division's SCUBA gear, assorted small tools, cell phones, rain gear, and other scientific equipment. Outside the perimeter of the security fence, a microscope and a field jacket were recovered; these items appear to have been abandoned by the thief as he was leaving.

The burglary occurred sometime between the hours of 5 pm and 6:30 am. The thief entered the yard by crawling under the surrounding fence. The Guam Police Department and the Crime Lab division responded to the crime scene and started an investigation, which yielded few results.

After obtaining additional clues as to the identity of the thief, National Park Service Special Agent Neil Akana was sent from Hawaii in June to further investigate the case. Shortly after arriving on island, and with the help of U.S Dept. of Homeland Security/TSA and the U.S. Probation Office for the District of Guam and the Northern Mariana Islands, Special Agent Akana identified the suspect, Inncencio M. Toves Jr. of Guam, and he later confessed to the crime. On June 16, 2004, Tovas was indicted by Grand Jury for the U.S. District Court, District of Guam, for theft of government property and was arrested on June 17th. Toves was on supervised release by the U.S. Probation Office, and performing community service at the park when the incident occurred. Through the course of his investigation, Special Agent Akana was able to recover many of the stolen items and return them to the park.

This theft came as a shock to the Natural Resources Division and to the entire War in the Pacific National Historical Park staff, but Minton was happy with the case's resolution and subsequent arrest of the responsible person. While much of the Division's essential equipment had been stolen, the park's Natural Resources Staff was back to work the day after the burglary, using either replaced or borrowed more equipment. Because of the difficulties caused by the burglary, the Natural Resources Division has installed additional security devices that they hope will deter future would-be thieves.

Dwayne Minton
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