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‘Uncommon’ Burglary at Brevig Mission Native Store, Stolen Money Recovered

An Alaska State Trooper cruiser. Photo: Matthew F. Smith, KNOM file.
Alaska State Trooper cruiser. Photo: Matthew F. Smith, KNOM file.

Alaska State Troopers recovered $21,633.64 in stolen cash and checks and arrested a suspect after the Brevig Muit Store was burglarized early Saturday morning.

Bertha Olanna, general manager of the Brevig Muit Store, described the scene her shopkeeper found when opening the store.

“She came in like any other day and she found some checks on the floor. The safe was open and the cameras were on the floor.”

Olanna believes the suspect used a crowbar to break into the store during the early hours of the morning. The Alaska State Troopers report says they received a call from the clerk, Natalie Olanna, around 9:20am on Saturday.

AST found that the video evidence had been tampered with, but Troopers were still able to conduct an investigation and arrest 21-year-old Chester Topkok of Teller. Topkok was allegedly in possession of multiple plastic masks that matched those worn in the theft and in possession of stolen checks. It is unclear at this point if there were multiple suspects involved in the alleged burglary.

Manager Bertha Olanna is grateful that most of the money was found and says that burglaries are uncommon in their community. Brevig Muit is owned by the local Brevig Mission Native Corporation.

Topkok was taken into Anvil Mountain Correctional Center without incident and faces charges of burglary, criminal mischief, and felony theft. His preliminary hearing is scheduled for March 11th at the Nome Courthouse.

Image at top: Alaska State Trooper cruiser. Photo: Matthew F. Smith, KNOM file.

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Based in the Bering Strait region, KNOM broadcasts throughout the homelands of the Iñupiaq, Siberian Yup’ik, Cup’ik and Yup’ik peoples.