Singapore

Maid jailed 8 months for stealing property worth $25,000 from employer

A Filipino domestic worker who stole cash and property totalling more than $25,000 from her employer over 1½ months was sentenced to eight months' jail on Monday (July 3).

Michelle Maloom Abucay, 36, who faced five charges of theft as a servant and two of transferring a total of $626 to the Philippines, had admitted to three counts of stealing from Ms Lee Hooi Wen, 43, at Riviera Drive in September 2016, and in the first and second week of October that year.

The court heard that Abucay had been working for Ms Lee since May last year.

The theft was discovered on Oct 26 when she requested the return of her passport to travel home the next day as her mother had died.

When Ms Lee's husband opened the safe to retrieve the passport, he realised several jewellery items and foreign currencies belonging to his wife missing.

He told his wife about it. When Ms Lee searched her wardrobe, she found a Louis Vuitton sling bag, five branded wallets, a Chanel bag and a brown Coach bag missing.

When the couple could not find the missing items, they called the police who arrested Abucay at about 12.20am the next day.

Investigations showed that Abucay was alone at the flat in September when she stole the wallets and bags from the wardrobe and kept them in her room.

Subsequently, she opened the safe using the key that she had found in the drawer of the wardrobe. She stole RM2,000 (S$632) from the safe.

She brought six items out of the flat when she fetched the couple's children from school. She handed them to a Filipino maid to help sell them, claiming that her employer had given them to her as gifts.

When her friend did not manage to sell the items, Abucay kept them in the flat.

She admitted that she gave RM600 to her friend to remit the cash to her sister in the Philippines. She kept the remaining RM1,400 in her wallet.

Further investigations showed that sometime in the first week of October, she stole four gold items from the safe , the Chanel and Coach handbags from the wardrobe.

On her off-day, she brought the items out and met another Filipino maid, who helped her sell the items to MoneyMax for $2,300. Her friend did not know that the items had been stolen.

During the second week of October, Abucay stole more items - all jewellery - from the safe. She wrapped them in tissue paper, put them in a plastic bag and hid the bag in the rice container in the kitchen.

Her lawyer, Criminal Legal Aid Scheme Fellow Sherrie Han, said in mitigation that Abucay had acted out of genuine financial need. Before the incident, she had served two families faithfully for seven years and five years in Hong Kong and Singapore respectively.

District Judge Low Wee Ping, who backdated her sentence to March 30, said she had broken the trust of her employer, and hoped that she would never ever do it again.

Abucay could have been jailed for up to seven years and fined on each charge of theft as a servant.

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