SINGAPORE: A foreign domestic worker stole from her employer's family over several months, including the "circuit breaker" period when they went out for evening walks.
When asked on Friday (Sep 11) if she admitted to the acts, 46-year-old Indonesian Rina Tilaar sobbed and said she did not do some of them, claiming that her employer treated her "like (an) animal".
She was sentenced to four weeks' jail after withdrawing her claims that qualified her plea of guilt. The term was backdated to Aug 28, when she was remanded.
Rina pleaded guilty to two counts of theft as a servant and one charge of theft. A fourth charge was taken into consideration.
The court heard that Rina started working for her 39-year-old employer and his family in late January this year. At the start of her employment, she signed a declaration form stating that she had cash of S$17.70 and 200 Indonesian rupiah (S$0.02).
Her monthly salary was remitted by her employer directly to her Indonesian bank account, said State Prosecuting Officer Nasri Haron.
Between February and May, Rina stole cash and items from her employer's family. Her employer's mother noticed that cash in various amounts had gone missing from her wallet in her bedroom, while her Braun Buffel coin pouch worth S$150 also went missing.
In March, her employer's wife placed a cardholder with cash of S$52 and an EZ-Link card on a table in the living room, and the items later went missing.
The wife also said cash totalling S$200 was missing from her wallet in her bedroom on four occasions in April.
After this, she started counting the money she placed in her wallet and discovered two pieces of S$10 notes missing on May 19.
Rina's employer also noticed that a total of S$300 had gone missing from his wallet between mid-April and May.
On May 21, while Rina was out for a walk with his mother, the employer and his wife checked Rina's belongings. They found cash of S$1,203.95 in a Braun Buffel coin pouch.
As the amount was higher than what Rina had initially declared at the start of her employment, her employer called the police.
Rina admitted taking cash of about S$1,000 from the family, along with a Braun Buffel coin pouch belonging to her employer's mother and the cardholder and EZ-Link card from her employer's wife.
Rina cried throughout the hearing, which she attended via video-link from her place of remand. She said she did not use the money, and she had taken it as her employer treated her "like (an) animal".
"She drop porridge on my hand and (poke me) with the chopstick," she sobbed. "I never use this money. My employer lie to me. She do wrong to me, I never complain to police and MOM (Ministry of Manpower). But I just quiet because I want to work."
She added that if she had wanted to steal money, she would have already run away with it. She said in Bahasa Indonesia that she worked in a house with four storeys and was a single mother with three children, and her father is dead.
The judge told her that he had to reject her plea as she did not admit to the acts, but Rina rescinded her claims and pleaded for leniency.
The prosecutor asked for at least six weeks' jail. Sobbing, Rina said she promised she would not repeat her "foolishness" and wanted to work for her family.
"I am very sorry to the court, to my employers and to my agencies and also to Your Honour," she said.
District Judge Ong Hian Sun said he noted that "substantially, the amounts of money were recovered" and gave Rina four weeks' jail.
For theft by a servant, she could have been jailed for up to seven years and fined.