Face of Defense: Pursuing Christmas Thief Earns Recognition for Sailor

HAGATNA, Guam, Jan. 10, 2018 — Navy Petty Officer 1st Class Anthony Mugavero, a master at arms assigned to U.S. Naval Base Guam Harbor Security, received a legislative resolution at the Guam Congress Building Dec. 29, for his courageous efforts while pursuing a thief at a mall in Dededo, Guam, two days before Christmas.

“There aren’t too many times in your life you get to meet a hero, but today I’ve met a hero and we’re here to show our appreciation on behalf of the people of Guam,” said Guam Sen. Dennis Rodriguez Jr. “What Mr. Mugavero did was something above and beyond.”

On the evening of Dec. 23, Mugavero, his wife and their children were walking in the mall’s parking garage when Cynthia Manibusan yelled that her purse had been stolen.

Stopping a Thief

“I just heard someone yelling, ‘He took my purse!’ and immediately ran after the guy, jumped over the wall and tackled him,” Mugavero said.

Once on the ground, he retrieved the stolen purse and returned it to Manibusan. The suspect fled the scene on foot.

“A lot of [sailors], we go out there and we want to do better for our community because we come from the same community,” Mugavero said. “If we can show [that service members] are out there helping the community, maybe it will foster our relationship more within the community itself. I feel like something like this encourages other people take a step to help out.”


Manibusan expressed her appreciation to Mugavero for his efforts to retrieve her purse and ensuring she and her daughter were OK following the incident.

“I was expecting someone else to help me out, not a military person,” she said. “I was so blessed to have him there at the exact moment to assist us. I want to thank Tony and his family, and the military for all the training he’s learned. It kicked in on him that evening and he did what he learned and it helped out.”