SINGAPORE — Wanting to support her family back home, a maid stole 21 pieces of jewellery from her employer of nine years and pawned most of them.
Radessa Gicaro Grine, a Filipino national, knew that her 50-year-old employer kept her jewellery in an old safe, which was kept closed but had a faulty lock.
She pilfered the jewellery, worth almost $9,791.11 for over a year, from 2 February 2019 to 3 January last year.
Grine, 45, was jailed for seven months on one amalgamated charge of theft as a servant, which she pleaded guilty to.
She worked for the victim from May 2011 to January 2020, when her employer found out about her crimes.
During her employment, Grine learned where the valuables were kept. She needed money for her son’s education and to support her siblings in her home country. Her lawyer, Lolita Andrew, told the court that the maid had also wanted to save the life of her niece, who was stricken with cancer in the Philippines.
Grine accessed the safe, which was kept closed but not locked as the lock was faulty, when the victim was not at home. She would then move the pieces to her room. These included eight gold bangles, six gold chains, gold rings, gold ear studs and a silver Tiffany necklace.
She then pawned 20 of these for cash which she transferred to her family back home. She kept the Tiffany necklace for herself.
On 17 January last year, the victim discovered that a pouch in which she used to keep all her gold chains was empty and she made a police report four days later.
Of all the pawned items, only eight items, worth $3,467.51, were recovered by the police. The remaining could not be recovered as they had been forfeited by the pawnshops. The Tiffany necklace, worth $315, was recovered from Grine’s room.
Grine has not made any restitution for the items.
Deputy Public Prosecutor Delicia Tan cited a breach of trust as one of the aggravating factors in Grine’s case, as the domestic helper had turned to stealing her employer’s jewellery which was in easy reach.
Andrew told the court that Grine was “extremely remorseful”.
“In the years coming to 2018, her niece in Philippines was diagnosed with cancer and she was consumed with extreme emotion and was extremely desperate in saving her niece’s life and she was also financially troubled in the Philippines.”
“The theft was not on the basis for personal benefit where she had either gone gambling or on a shopping spree. She did indeed take the items and pawned them at a pawnshop...she had pawn receipts with her throughout and her intention was to redeem the items back and place them back in the safe,” added the lawyer.
The helper immediately came clean upon being questioned by the employer.
“She could have thrown away the pawn receipts and denied any instance of pilfering. But she came clean, and entered a timeous plea with her employer and investigators,” said Andrew, who sought less than five months’ jail for Grine.
In reply, DPP Tan said that the victim would have to pay out of her pocket to redeem her own items and that it was “fortuitous” that some with sentimental value were recovered.
For theft as a servant, Grine could have been jailed up to seven years and fined.
Stay in the know on-the-go: Join Yahoo Singapore's Telegram channel at http://t.me/YahooSingapore
Other Singapore stories: