Case of man who allegedly burglarized car dismissed


The case of an employee of the Saipan Mayor’s Office dog control program who was allegedly caught on camera stealing has been dismissed—at the request of the Office of the Attorney General and the defense’s counsel.

The OAG may re-file the case against Rodney C. Babauta in the future. The competency hearing set for tomorrow, Tuesday, was vacated. The hearing was supposed to determine if Babauta is competent to stand trial.

Assistant attorney general Jonathan L. Wilberscheid and Chief Public Defender Douglas W. Hartig told the court that the case’s dismissal “is in the best interest of justice.”

Superior Court Associate Judge Joseph N. Camacho exonerated Babauta’s $1,000 bail on Friday.

The 35-year-old Babauta was caught on surveillance camera stealing items from a parked vehicle at Banzai Cliff last Feb. 19, police said. Police said that, during an interview, Babauta confessed to being the person caught on camera that was installed in the van.

Police said the victim, a tour guide, estimated $3,000 of the value of the stolen items that include a Mark Jacob bag, a Fendi pouch, a Gucci wallet, Samsung Galaxy Tablet A, and other items.

Police said Babauta admitted seeing the van park. He said he noticed the lights in the vehicle were still on and that a child was sleeping in the back seat.

Babauta said he opened the passenger door and took a bag.

At that time, the tour guide was escorting passengers on a 20- to 30-minute tour of the cliff, while her purse and a sleeping child were left in the car.

The driver did not notice the purse missing until she returned her group to Pacific Islands Club Saipan later that evening. She then reviewed the vehicle’s surveillance camera, confirmed her purse was stolen and called police.

The video was circulated in social media that prompted several tips to the Crime Stoppers hotline and led to Babauta’s arrest.

Ferdie De La Torre | Reporter
Ferdie Ponce de la Torre is a senior reporter of Saipan Tribune. He has a bachelor’s degree in journalism and has covered all news beats in the CNMI. He is a recipient of the CNMI Supreme Court Justice Award. Contact him at

Related Posts

Disclaimer: Comments are moderated. They will not appear immediately or even on the same day. Comments should be related to the topic. Off-topic comments would be deleted. Profanities are not allowed. Comments that are potentially libelous, inflammatory, or slanderous would be deleted.