SINGAPORE - A maid stole $28,200 from an 82-year-old woman with mild dementia whom she was hired to care for.
She sneaked off with the woman's debit card on 23 occasions and withdrew money, some of which she remitted to her family in the Philippines and some she spent on jewellery.
On Tuesday (Jan 4), Wimie Pascual Gubaton, 42, was sentenced to 12 months' jail after pleading guilty a single charge of theft against an employer.
The court heard that Gubaton was hired by Ms Yeh Pei Hoong, 49, a Singaporean who lives with her husband, two children and her elderly mother, Madam Goh Gek Keow.
Gubaton's main duties included caring for Madam Goh and they shared a bedroom.
"By (Gubaton's) account, (Ms Yeh) and her family treated her well," said state prosecuting officer Ting Nge Kong.
The maid claimed her family in the Philippines contacted her in May last year asking for money as they faced financial difficulties.
She then decided to steal from her employer using Madam Goh's ATM card that was linked to Ms Yeh's POSB account as she knew it was kept in a bag in their room.
"(Gubaton) also knew Madam Goh's PIN (personal identification number) for the card as she had seen her keying the numbers in the past," said the prosecution.
On 23 occasions from June to October, she withdrew sums of cash ranging from $500 to $1,900 without Madam Goh's knowledge.
She remitted some of $28,200 stolen to her family in the Philippines and also used it to buy jewellery, accessories, perfume, shoes and mobile phones.
In October, Ms Yeh discovered the withdrawals from her bank account and confronted the maid, who confessed to the thefts.
Gubaton returned $3,200 to Ms Yeh, who called the police, said the prosecution, who urged the judge for an imprisonment term of 10 to 12 months.
Shin Min Daily News reported that the maid cried during her mitigation plea as she told the judge she was remorseful and her family relied on her salary alone to support her younger relatives' studies.
The maid was sentenced to 12 months' jail, which was backdated to Oct 17 last year.
Those who steal from an employer in the capacity of a clerk or servant face up to seven years' jail and a fine.
In a similar case, maid Castro Meldy Aloquina, who stole jewellery and some $14,700 in cash from her employer, was last Wednesday sentenced to five months in prison.
A week before Aloquina was set to return home to the Philippines, her employer checked her belongings and found jewellery, a stack of foreign currencies and household items that she owned.
In another incident, a maid stole the contents of her employer's safe after she successfully guessed a six-digit code to it by trial and error.
Istikomah, 38, who goes by one name, took more than $8,000 in cash over several occasions from the safe. The Indonesian was on Aug 27 last year sentenced to six months and six weeks' jail.
This article was first published in The Straits Times. Permission required for reproduction.