Pena House burglar falls


Police arrested Thursday night in Finasisu the man who was caught on surveillance camera burglarizing and stealing money and an iPad from the Pena House Dress Shop in Chalan Kanoa last week.

Mark Anthony S. Benavente, 34, was arrested for burglary and theft.

Police detective Catherine B. Pangelinan stated in her report that several persons, including Benavente’s family members and a former girlfriend, identified the person in the surveillance footage as the suspect.

At a hearing on Friday, Superior Court Associate Judge Teresa Kim-Tenorio imposed a $10,000 cash bail on Benavente. Preliminary hearing will be on March 19 at 9am.

Chief Public Defender Douglas Hartig served as counsel for Benavente. Assistant attorney general Chester Hinds represented the government.

Pangelinan stated in her report that a police officer was dispatched last March 9 to a burglary and theft incident at the Pena House Dress Shop. A store clerk told the officer that someone broke into their back door by damaging the deadbolt and doorknob.

Once inside the store, the burglar forcibly opened the cash register and stole $100 and an iPad worth $600 that belonged to the storeowner’s husband.

Pangelinan said a review of the surveillance footage showed the burglar to be a skinny male wearing a pair of long pants, white T-shirt, and a baseball cap.

That same day, Pangelinan and another detective learned that the burglar was a certain Mark, who likes to ride a bicycle from Finasisu to Chalan Kanoa, wears a backpack all the time, and wears a hat.

Pangelinan said at 1pm that same day, while heading east on Elphedia Street approaching Ji Li Store in Chalan Kanoa District 2, she saw a man riding a bicycle who fit the description of the burglar.

Pangelinan said she followed the rider and rolled down the driver’s window and called him “Mark.” When the man replied, “Yeah,” Pangelinan asked if she could talk to him.

Pangelinan said the man, later identified as Benavente, turned his bike and fled toward an apartment and entered a backyard where she lost sight of him.

Pangelinan asked for assistance from Commonwealth Bureau of Investigation units as they canvassed the Chalan Kanoa area.

The detective said during her house-to-house canvassing, two couples identified the man in the photo as Benavente. She said a family member also identified the man in the photo as Benavente.

Pangelinan said a police officer, who identified the man in the photo as Benavente, said the man comes to his house now and then.

Pangelinan said a former girlfriend also positively identified the man in the photo, saying Benavente comes to visit their three children in Finasisu.

Last Tuesday, Crime Stoppers coordinator Jason Tarkong released the photos of the burglar to the media. The following day, Tarkong received several tips from anonymous callers identifying the suspect.

Pangelinan said the siblings also identified Benavente and stated that on Tuesday he mentioned asking for money to go off-island because police were looking for him.

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

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