What would you do if you suspected that your maid was stealing from you?
Singapore mum Jas, who works as Communications Executive, recently had a harrowing experience with her maid. Let’s hear it from her…
Jas, mummy of 20-month-old baby Hao, initially had a maid, who we’ll just refer to as ‘A’, who was honest, but not that great with housework. In Jas’s words, “‘A’ needed constant reminding about her housework, but she was honest, and really cared for my son a lot. I could see the bond between them.”
“Once, I dropped my wedding band in the bathtub and didn’t realise it. Only when my husband found it on the table top did we realise that A had found it, and placed it on the counter. This alone won our respect for her honesty.”
“Somehow, my mum and A never got along well. So when my grandmother passed away in July last year, my mum insisted that we let A go, and employ her maid ‘R’ instead.”
This maid ‘R’, from the Philippines, was extremely hardworking and meticulous, and had done a great job of looking after Jas’ grandmother. Says Jas, “She also required only 2 days off every month, as opposed to A, who needed 4 off days.”
Maid stole from me
Jas recalls, “‘R’ looked after my son well, but somehow there was a bond missing between them. Nevertheless, we could see that R did try her best…she was also very meticulous and ‘tip-top’ in her housework.”
“Everything was fine until things mysteriously and gradually went missing around our house.”
Jas was initially confused as she had never faced this problem with her previous maid. She says, “At first, I thought I was being absent-minded. So, I took extra efforts to remember where I placed my items around the house.”
“I soon realised that ‘R’ had taken petty items like my lip gloss, hair clips, comb, sewing kit scissors, hair curler, the Mother Mary medallion that my father-in-law had gifted my husband, my son’s toys and bath essentials (sample bottle types), etc, my husband’s T-shirt!”
“She never took any money, but that was also probably because we made sure to never to put valuables or money openly around the house. When things went missing and we asked ‘R’, her very standard reply to us was “I don’t know, Ma’am/Sir”.”
“When I recounted my experience to my husband, he shared his observations on his missing items as well. We realised that the missing items in the house were not due to my ‘absent-mindedness'”
Confused as to what to do
So did she take any action against the maid then, we wonder?
Jas confides, “I had mixed feelings, just like my mum, because she seemed like a nice person (she did have the occasional bad habit of being rude and talking back though). My husband was disgusted, and adamant on sending her back.”
“He rationalised that if she could steal petty items, one day she would go on to steal bigger items in the house. I wanted to forgive her, yet at the same time I was scared that she would continue this habit. I was also worried about making her angry, because my son was under her care when both of us were out at work.”
“I later got to know that ‘R’ was also very rude to my father-in-law, both verbally and in actions. She knew she could get away with it because he was scared she would hurt his precious grandson. She would even ‘extort’ money from my father-in-law to buy her favourite snacks from the supermarket (they were definitely not meant for my son) by subtly hinting to him, “But I’m looking after your grandson”… This, even after we regularly stocked the kitchen with her favourite snacks.”
“Eventually, we realised that this petty theft habit of hers had started as early as last year. Her stash of stolen items included an old empty wallet that I did not want (no, she did not asked me if she could take it), my photo frames, kitchen wall rack ( I had bought a few spares and she took those spares), a few bedsheets for the mattress in the study room, etc…”
“The trust was definitely broken when I had to lock my bedroom door every morning before I left for work.” Jas and her husband finally decided that enough was enough, “Out of sympathy and taking my mum’s pleading into consideration, my husband decided not to press charges for theft against her or blacklist her. We bought her an air ticket and sent her back.”
Looking back she feels, “‘R’ was a good maid; she was hardworking. Unfortunately she had a bad habit of theft when we had pretty much provided her with whatever she wanted, especially her basic needs.”
We ask Jas what advice she has for other mums when it came to their maids, she replies, “No matter how much you trust your maid, never give them the benefit of doubt – always have CCTVs installed in your homes.”
Thank you Jas, for sharing your story with us, and for warning other parents not to be over-trusting about their helpers. Some other precautions that we can think of, for keeping valuables safe are:
- Keep cash out of sight : Do not tempt your maid by leaving cash and coins carelessly around the house.
- Get that safe : Keep all your valuables, including your jewellery locked up in a safe.
- Lock your bedroom : Before going out to work, you might want to lock up your bedroom for added safety.
- Never perform monetary transactions in front of your maid : No matter how long your maid has been with you, or how trustworthy you regard her to be, money matters must be kept private. So, never check your account details in front of your maid, whether you are logging in online or withdrawing cash from an ATM. Also, try not to sign cheques in front of her, she might just be watching you closely.
Also READ: This mum fired her trusted maid and you need to know WHY!