To think she's stealing from me? WWYD?

(105 Posts)
SlowLooseChippings Thu 24-Jan-13 10:40:54

I have a cleaner for 5 hours a week. She's a widowed older lady from an East European country, who's very pleasant and whose English has been improving tremendously in the 18 months she is here. And she is very fond of my 16 week old son. I've been considering asking her to do some babysitting outside of normal duties soon, as soon as I am ready to go out without him.

I went to get my boy a passport yesterday, but forgot some vital information so came home with the fee for the passport fast track still in my wallet (£87). I'd paid for a taxi out of that, about £13, with one of the twenties and put the change in a small bowl we keep by the door. I didn't buy anything else yesterday evening or go to the shop, just got home and made dinner for DH. I left my handbag in the hall last night and was feeding DS in my bed when she arrived at 8am. I went to pay her at 1pm and pulled out £40 from my wallet.. and that was all there was. The fiver was gone from the bowl and only the pound coins in it. I was a bit taken aback that there was so little there but I have been a bit thoughtless with money lately, losing track of things since DS was born, so didn't say anything at the time, wondering what the hell I could have spent it on. Also thought there was a good chance that DH might have taken the change from the bowl as he left before DS and I got up.

But it's the second time that I've noticed I've had much less in my wallet to pay her with than I thought I had. (After the first time i went through a phase of always bringing my bag into the bedroom at night, but habits slipped..) I raised it with DH when he got home and he said that he saw the change from the taxi in the bowl last night, but he didn't take it. So I think she may have taken it, but I can't prove anything. And I'm gutted.. She was the best cleaner I've had from this agency, very thorough, polite etc and great with my son. If I confront her and I've got it wrong, then I'm no further forward and I've insulted her. If I ring the agency then she's got a bad name. I'm sure very few other people are home but shut out of sight when she arrives with their purses lying around, but this is my home and I'm here with the baby and that won't change. I don't want to have to be extra-vigilant inside my own home.

What would you do?

DeWe Thu 24-Jan-13 12:30:25

I've had the situation where I've been many pounds down in my purse, and wondered what has happened. I don't usually have more than about £40 max, but occasionally have expected £40 to find £10. When I've sat down and thought (after the panic of "who's taken it", "have I dropped it..") I've always realised that I've made a lot of small payments which have added up.

However my grandparents had a dreadful thief as a cleaner once. Yes, she came from an agency and I'm sure they weren't the only one she stole from. Dm noticed money was going much quicker than usual from their account, (she helped dgp with things like that).
Dgd kept all his money in a lockable safe which he kept the key in his desk. She'd actually taken the key and got a copy made. When this became clear dm remembered him telling her he couldn't see the key one time, and she'd gone to look the next day and it was there. The timing of it lost went between two cleaning days. It stopped when the lock was changed, and dm took the key home.

He used to keep a bowl of loose change by the door. It was always cleared on the days she worked. She would tell him that someone came round collecting for charity or something.
She also used to trot out sob stories ending in blackmail. Like "My car's failed the MOT and I don't have £500 to fix it so I can't come to you until I've paid. Dgp would "lend" the money. It was never seen again.
And after dm had got rid of her they discovered that she had taken a large amount of things like towels/linen from the cupboard upstairs. She'd always done things like washing so they'd not been looking in the cupboard.

Of course these things couldn't be proved, but dgp had very few visitors and dm kept track and things only went on days she was there. They'd have had to catch her in the act to prove it, and about a week after the lock was changed on the safe she suddenly gave notice and was never seen again. The agency said nothing could be done as there was no proof. hmm

However a couple of years later someone with the same first name was charged with defrauding some elderly people she was cleaning for, so hopefully she got caught.

SlowLooseChippings Thu 24-Jan-13 12:34:40

Can't have blown away - door position is such that we don't really get draughts. And it was folded up neatly, so not very blow-able. Even if it had I'd expect her to find it and put it back in the course of tidying, as she does with other things.

But I'll have another look now, just in case!

NaturalBaby Thu 24-Jan-13 12:37:16

If you're so careless with your money and forgetful then should you really be blaming your cleaner for stealing it?

Keep a better track of your money to prove what has gone missing - get a small notebook and write down every amount you withdraw in cash then what it's spent on, then what's in your wallet.
If you're still convinced then tell your cleaner you left £5 in a bowl and has she noticed it lying around then see what she says or what happens.

zoflora Thu 24-Jan-13 12:37:42

Firstly - I disagree with the poster who said she was unlikely to be stealing because she works for an agency. A an agency cleaner at my DP s workplace was caught stealing. Converslely we I have had a few cleaners for the house - no agency involvment and I am sure they were honest.
I can see how a cleaner could take money from a bowl easily. But how could she extract it from your purse/ wallet? Pretty risky I would have thought.

FreePeaceSweet Thu 24-Jan-13 12:38:38

Really? If your employer fired you because he/she thought you might be stealing but wasn't even sure, I'm pretty sure you'd be bringing them into a tribunal
This.
Just ask her if she's seen it, taken it, used it (for some random reason like a visitor, collector etc)

To sack her without exploring every avenue and proof is very unfair. I've been that person accused of stealing (when of course there is absolutely no other way it could have gone missing... no...) and its just soul destroying. You have no way to prove yourself, You're treated coldly and when its clear the item has been found but no apology is coming your way (minimum wage so who cares right?) you sure don't feel like doing the best you can do normally. I left my job even after being vindicated as I felt like I wasn't trusted. For those interested I was accused of stealing hair colours and peroxide from work. I along with my two bosses (a couple) had the only access to the cupboard they were kept. I could only protest my innocence and put up with having my every move watched closely. I think two weeks after being accused the items were found in the boot of their car and a look of horror was evident on the woman's face. Did she or he apologise for accusing me? I'll let you make your own mind up on that. I got up the next day, ate breakfast, washed, dressed, got on the bus, walked to work and physically couldn't go through the door. I saw them both looking at me and I wanted to throw up. I waved at them and walked away.

Jamillalliamilli Thu 24-Jan-13 12:39:39

WWID? I'd risk another fiver in the same place but definitely weighted with a coin, before removing someone's job, and then if it went I'd know I was fair to fire them.

Jamillalliamilli Thu 24-Jan-13 12:42:43

Free Peace, the cleaner can't take her to a tribunal, she's not her employer. The agency probably don't employ her either, just sub contract work, or not, to her.

atacareercrossroads Thu 24-Jan-13 12:42:59

YABU, your posts are full of maybes supposes possibles etc and you have admitted yourself that you are absent minded with money.

The only way you can be sure is to leave a fiver out again IMO.

I think you are being a bit unfair talking about light fingered visitors when you have absolutely nothing to go off at this stage.

SlowLooseChippings Thu 24-Jan-13 12:44:14

Zoflora - because I tend to drop my handbag in the hall, and often when she arrives at 8am I am still in bed, usually feeding DS or having just gone back to bed after feeding DS, who is not yet four months old. I can hear her arrive and start cleaning from my bedroom, and likewise she can hear if I'm stirring or not.

NaturalBaby - I admit to being all those things, but I feel that careless and forgetful isn't a good enough reason to permit stealing in one's own home. Maybe in YOUR world...

FreePeaceSweet Thu 24-Jan-13 12:47:33

Free Peace, the cleaner can't take her to a tribunal, she's not her employer. The agency probably don't employ her either, just sub contract work, or not, to her.
I'm not up to speed on employment laws etc but she must have some rights surely?

atacareercrossroads Thu 24-Jan-13 12:49:04

Id want to find out, so I can tell the agency if she is a thief to stop her doing it to someone else, not just get rid, forget about it and let it become someone elses problem. The next person, if she is a tea leaf, might be a Granny or an other vulnerable person.

FreePeaceSweet Thu 24-Jan-13 12:49:59

I don't think anyone is 'Permitting' anything Slow. I think the general consensus on this thread is that you must be absolutely certain. You aren't.

atacareercrossroads Thu 24-Jan-13 12:50:10

FreePeace - They have certain rights (discrimination against disability, sex, age etc) but agency workers can be finished at any time, with no reason given.

SlowLooseChippings Thu 24-Jan-13 12:50:21

By light-fingered visitors I wasn't specifically talking about the cleaner, just meant that there were no visitors or callers who could have taken it.

You're all right about the maybes and supposes. I don't have any proof, I'm down about £30 in cash without any obvious explanation. And I know I didn't spend it. And this isn't the first time. The last time it was £40 unaccounted for a couple of months ago. I don't know.

atacareercrossroads Thu 24-Jan-13 12:51:50

although the agency in question might be a bit hmm about someone who has previously been happy with her cleaner just suddenly binning her off, may come to their own conclusion, and just not give her any work again.

Would be very sad if the cleaner is totally innocent.

AlienReflux Thu 24-Jan-13 12:52:52

NaturalBaby - I admit to being all those things, but I feel that careless and forgetful isn't a good enough reason to permit stealing in one's own home. Maybe in YOUR world Surely natural meant, you may not realize you've spent/lost it, if you admit this happens, and not that you deserve stealing from because of it? hmm

Jamillalliamilli Thu 24-Jan-13 12:53:03

Free peace, self employed sub contracted workers have very few rights indeed.

Tabliope Thu 24-Jan-13 12:53:39

If there really is nothing else you've spent that money on then what other possible explanation is there? I would leave £5 or £10 in bowl next time but mark it somehow. Then when it came to pay her I'd have too much and ask her if she could give me £5 or £10 back if you give her £50 for example (not sure how much you pay her). If the mark is on there - and I would check in front of her - then I would tell her what I'd done. Or I'd go through her bag when she wasn't looking and check her purse to see if the marked money was in there. Give her a job upstairs to get rid of her for a few minutes.

diddl Thu 24-Jan-13 12:54:05

It´s all very wooly!

But here´s a thought-start putting stuff away in a safe place where she has no access!

atacareercrossroads Thu 24-Jan-13 12:54:46

OP - its pretty simple, just leave a fiver out and see if it goes, keep doing it for a few times and if it doesnt disappear then its safe to assume you have possibly maybe supposedly been a little bit absent minded.....maybe.

fromparistoberlin Thu 24-Jan-13 12:56:30

set a trap

how tiring,,,,,

but set a trap as smells fishy to me

SlowLooseChippings Thu 24-Jan-13 12:58:38

Crossroads, I recently cut her hours two months after raising them because it was costing too much and I didn't need as much help as I thought I would with a small baby. It was honestly a nice but unnecessary luxury but the budget won't take it, and I told the agency that when they asked. Dismissing the agency altogether probably wouldn't raise their suspicions that much.

As I said, she is a lovely lady I get on well with and she brought flowers when my son was born, and gave him a Christmas present (which I wasn't expecting because I know how much she makes!). I genuinely like her and ideally I would find it somewhere and this would all go away.

AndBingoWasHisNameOh Thu 24-Jan-13 12:59:13

The thing is that if the OP leaves more money out and it doesn't go, that doesn't necessarily mean the cleaner didn't take the previous money. Only it going provides a definitive answer that she is stealing.

Jamillalliamilli Thu 24-Jan-13 12:59:49

I strongly suggest you don't go through her bag. You may find yourself being accused of being a thief, and sadly yes, clients have been known to steal from the cleaner.

lainiekazan Thu 24-Jan-13 13:00:23

I'd put a fiver behind a cushion/slightly under the sofa - anyway, a different place from the bowl in the hall but still obvious to someone who is cleaning.

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