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?

SlowLooseChippings Thu 24-Jan-13 10:43:05

Sorry, I wrote most of this late last night but DH interrupted me before I hit post, so please read "last night" as Tuesday night - she comes on a Wednesday.

DeepRedBetty Thu 24-Jan-13 10:44:20

For my own piece of mind I'd set a trap. Hopefully she won't take the bait, and you'll have to put it down to your own absent-minded-ness.

Numberlock Thu 24-Jan-13 10:46:53

First of all, you are absolutely 100% sure no one else could have taken it? Your husband hasn't forgotten he paid the window cleaner? No-one else has been in the house around the time it went missing?

I have been a bit thoughtless with money lately

And you're sure that you haven't forgotten you lent money to a friend/bought a bottle of wine on the way home/paid the window cleaner etc etc.

Crinkle77 Thu 24-Jan-13 10:50:31

DeepRedBetty has just suggested what I was about to. Set a trap. Is there any way you could set up a hidden camera? Do these people really think that no one is going to notice and that they will get away with it?

SlowLooseChippings Thu 24-Jan-13 10:56:03

I came straight home from passport office in a taxi as DS had started screaming at the counters. No diversions en route. And the friend who was supposed to call round had cancelled earlier in the day so it was just me, DH and the baby for the evening.

I was wondering if I'd gone out again to sainsburys which is nearby and I often do, but just remembered that I'd defrosted dinner from the freezer and anyway I always pay by card there as I use the automatic tills.


SlowLooseChippings Thu 24-Jan-13 10:59:12

The idea of a trap is appealing but I don't think I want to throw good money after bad...

FlatsInDagenham Thu 24-Jan-13 11:08:06

I think I would lay a trap too. It's not really throwing good money after bad is it - if she takes the bait you will sack her and no longer be putting any more money at risk. If she doesn't take it, you've lost nothing.

DeepRedBetty Thu 24-Jan-13 11:11:05

Agree, regard it as a long term investment in household security.

AlienReflux Thu 24-Jan-13 11:14:29

Hmmm tricky, you could just purposely leave another fiver somewhere, check it's there when she first comes in, have no one there the whole time, check when she leaves?

MrsReiver Thu 24-Jan-13 11:15:41

I don't think it's a waste of money if it gives you peace of mind, or evidence with which you can challenge her. A few quid just now offset against potential regular theft... seems reasonable to me.

Darksideofthe80s Thu 24-Jan-13 11:17:33

Next Wednesday only have £40 or however much you pay her in your purse, if when you come to pay her there is not enough there, say that's strange I ALWAYS check how much is in my purse, how can there not be enough in there now???
Pay her the difference, call the agency or police, and look for a new cleaner!

In the nicest possible way, I would hope it's just an episode of baby brain, and the above won't happen.

Numberlock Thu 24-Jan-13 11:18:11

One alternative is to tell the agency you no longer need a cleaner, no explanation necessary.

BiteTheTopsOffIcedGems Thu 24-Jan-13 11:27:35

We KNEW when someone was stealing from us, even though we couldn't believe it really and we did what you are doing - second guessing yourself.
Our friends son was stealing from us, it was horrible but its YOUR home, YOUR money. Stealing is not acceptable.

Umlauf Thu 24-Jan-13 11:32:51

Not sure about the money in your purse but regarding the money in the bowl.... This is very naive but.... Could she have possibly thought it was a tip? Only because I stupidly left about £30 in my hotel room once in Poland and it was gone, when I asked about it the hotel were really apologetic and gave it straight back saying it was customary for customers to leave tips in the ashtray thingy I'd left it in!

But that is probably a very long shot. I'd set a little trap and if the money does go again just dismiss her quietly without making a huge fuss with agency/police. She'll know why you dismissed her and will hopefully have had the scare she needed not to do it again in future...

SlowLooseChippings Thu 24-Jan-13 11:52:33

Unlikely. I do often tip her, but I put it with her pay and always leave it in the same place on the counter. hmm

The bowl is on the hall table and a common repository for keys, coins, cufflinks etc. The fiver was gone but the pound coins were there.

I am probably going to take the coward's way out of just dismissing the agency. I haven't liked any of their other cleaners who tend to be young girls, from the one who left the place dirtier than she found it (not hoovering, just mopping so left wet cat hair all over the floor) to the one who couldn't stack a dishwasher (plates face down in the top and bottom rack, think she got about six into the otherwise empty machine before she announced it was full...) so i thought I'd struck gold here. Bah. confused

aufaniae Thu 24-Jan-13 11:58:21

Setting a trap shouldn't be too hard.

Does your computer have a web cam in it? You could use that.

Or even better, a video camera if you have one (cover the light with tape).

nickelbabe Thu 24-Jan-13 12:01:43

there's a chance she'd seen the money in the bowl and put it in the drawer for safety?

could you ask her if she's seen ity?
y'know, go tothe bowl and say "i'm sure i'd put a fiver in there, did you move it?"
that's not an unreasonable thing to ask a cleaner.

Cosmosim Thu 24-Jan-13 12:03:11

You're not sure, you might have been thoughtless, she's great at her job, you wanted to entrust her with the care of your baby.... but you'd rather fire her than be sure you're even right?

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

MrsMushroom Thu 24-Jan-13 12:05:07

I think setting a "trap" is wrong on many levels. It's highly unlikely she's taking money. She works for an agency! I think you need to think again about who else could have taken it or whether you dropped it.

If you must, leave some money in the dish and set up a webcam.

EuroShagmore Thu 24-Jan-13 12:15:57

Why does working for an agency make it less likely that she is taking the money?

AlienReflux Thu 24-Jan-13 12:17:49

It might have blown off when the door opened? Have you had a good look?

Make sure the fiver didn't blow somewhere - that's happened to me if there's a draught near the front door.

I'd have her round one more time, leave a small amount of money around again, and see if it disappears. If it does you will know without a doubt if she is taking money from you.

SlowLooseChippings Thu 24-Jan-13 12:29:08

Cosmo, that's the catch, isn't it? Either I've grievously wronged her or she's grievously wronged me - but the thought of the latter makes me so uncomfortable at having her in my home again. It's my home and my refuge after all.

What's weighing on me most is the fact that its not the first time I've noticed a large sum missing. I am absent-minded and don't use much cash on a daily basis but there are still days when you've just taken money out the night before and you know how much should be there, and to find £30 or £40 gone from your purse is a shock... (I pay for almost everything I can by card as I get points back).

The fiver in the bowl on the hall table is just the one place that both DH and myself have noticed it. It's the money missing from the purse in my handbag that bothers me more than a fiver here or there. It would be hard to booby-trap that as I usually dump it in the hall, not near the PC.

But yes, it is possible although unlikely that I could have dropped it when paying the cabbie I suppose. Unlikely because there was £30 gone from my wallet and I pulled out a £20 to pay him, and while I may not have noticed a single other note fluttering to the ground I'm sure I'd have noticed two notes falling. There was no one else in my home and I didn't go out the evening after getting back from passport office. I got home at 4pm, sulked over my stupidity at not getting my countersignatory to fill the form out properly, made dinner, DH got home, we bathed DS, put him to bed and watched a DVD. I wasn't flooded with light-fingered visitors...

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
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.

moomoomar Thu 24-Jan-13 13:00:39

I would have to set a trap to see if it is her or not. It would drive me bonkers not knowing.

atacareercrossroads Thu 24-Jan-13 13:04:03

You can make it all go away one way or the other. confused

Just leave a bloody fiver out woman! She sounds lovely, and it would be a shame to lose a good cleaner and potential babysitter over a "maybe possible suppose" thing.

i agree that if it doesnt go once it doesnt discount her, so just keep leaving it out somewhere or a couple of quid on the side or something. If she is the thief it will go soon, you will then know for sure, and you can tell the agency so she doesnt do it to some other poor unsuspecting sod.

SlowLooseChippings Thu 24-Jan-13 13:04:23

I have no intention of going through her bag. I don't usually ask for change either - if I don't have the correct amount I round it up always. It would look very odd. Especially if she was blameless.

The dilemma is just - as Tabliope says - what other explanation is there? I have often lost track of how much cash is in my purse at any given time, especially since DS was born and I don't go out or spend much anymore, but I'm not ceaselessly clueless and there are times I do know exactly and this was one of these.

Lindt70Percent Thu 24-Jan-13 13:05:48

This happened to a friend of mine. Her husband was the first to notice. He's a landscape gardener so often came home in dirty clothes which he'd take off in the utility room and put straight in the washing machine and would leave loose change on the worktop. He thought that some of the loose change was missing so he counted it out one time and checked the next day and some had gone. Other things had gone missing too - can't remember exactly what now. My friend was particularly upset because the cleaner was someone from her village who she was friendly with.

Anyway, the friend agonised over what to do and decided she needed to broach the subject with the cleaner so she left her a message saying she needed to talk to her. The cleaner left a message back saying she knew what she was going to say and was very sorry and that she wouldn't come back again and she left her keys behind.

atacareercrossroads Thu 24-Jan-13 13:07:59

Look, I was adamant once that I had £20 in my purse, and I mean "fuck off Im SURE it was there" adamant. Accused DP of taking it, in the end it was in my coat pocket. And I wouldnt even say I was a bit absent minded with money.

Up to you of course, but I think it would be a crying shame to lose someone like this if it us all a mistake. Good babysitters and cleaners are hard to find.

GoLadyEdith Thu 24-Jan-13 13:16:58

I've read the whole thread. I too think you need to set a trap. Tabliope the problem with that plan is that if the cleaner's taken the marked money she'll either notice the mark and offer another note instead, or just insist she has no change, thus forcing the op onto the unpalatable next stage of rummaging in her bag. Simpler trap as Darksideofthe80s says is to have exactly what you owe her in your bag. Mark those notes eg red dot or line in one corner. Leave bag unattended while she cleans. Also leave a fiver on a coffee table, partly wedged under a book so it can't blow away by accident.

Payment time: "Oh no Magda there's only £x here ! I need to give you £x+y...I'm sure there was £x+y. I checked yesterday. I had to pay window cleaner/hairdresser/dog walker and what with being a bit tired and scatty since Ds arrived, wink, well it sounds daft but I marked the different notes as i counted them out so I wouldnt lose track of what i had. Your red ones were tucked in here, look, and the window cleaner's blue ones here (show empty adjacent section). I paid him and your money was left. The £+y are definitely not here..if I can't find spare £ upstairs/ in a pocket can I give you next time ?"

If she's honest she'll agree, if not you probably won't see her again.

SlowLooseChippings Thu 24-Jan-13 13:19:57

I really don't want to lose her, but I don't want to be unwittingly paying her double every week either.

I think I'll move my wallet to the changing bag... A handbag is unnecessary faff moat of the time now anyway, and I often leave home without it but never without the changing bag!

I'll leave it a week or two and then agree with DH to leave another fiver in the bowl. And I'll keep my purse out of sight.

I sympathise with this as I am almost totally convinced that my cleaner, who has been with me 15 years, occasionally steals cash from our house. I have never been able to prove it though to my complete satisfaction and so have never felt it would be fair to accuse her or fire her. The possibility upsets me though as I am a pretty generous employer and feel we don't deserve it.

But since I've never been able to be 100% sure I have taken a different approach - to accept that maybe she does when times are hard, and she is a single mother with a tough life, but we want to discourage it. So no we don't leave any money lying round the house, and where we do for example have a drawer of foreign currency I leave a piece of paper on top clearly dated and showing the amount. We've not lost any since then, so maybe it is just that we were careless before and are more careful now?

MariusEarlobe Thu 24-Jan-13 13:26:56

please be sure, I was accused at a workplace, some one's purse went missing, I had gone out at lunch with her, I had gone to the bank first and my wage hadn't been in so I had just had a drink and sat with her while she ate at McDonald's then ate a sandwich at my desk when we got back. She sat next to me at work.

The morning after she noticed her purse gone and blamed me because i suddenly turned up with a Nintendo ds for my dd the next day (my wage had gone in overnight). I was questioned by work and the police. She didnt back down when cctv showed it wasn't me who had used the card at the bank.

It was a horrid time at work and I ended up leaving because she made my life hell. I hadn't done it

Cherriesarelovely Thu 24-Jan-13 13:33:17

Why is it "highly unlikely she is stealing the money"? I totally agree that accusing someone is a very difficult thing to do. I would actually set a trap and THEN call the agency or the police. I know it is hard but at the end of the day, if she IS stealing from you she may well go on to keep doing it from others and that is wrong.

My aunt's cleaner was stealing from her. She'd been with them for years, babysat for them, etc etc. My aunt left some money lying about, having made a note of the serial numbers. It disappeared and she asked the cleaner to empty her purse and it was there. She was really upset as she said she would have happily lent/given the cleaner the money if she'd asked (I know it's hard to ask though).

Mm if she IS stealing, I suspect she would only do it when there was enough money in your purse for it to be less noticeable (and obviously it would have to be more than what you will need to pay her, otherwise she would have to be stupid to take it).

If I was you, I would get organised ahead of her coming, and early that morning, make sure there is £80 or so in the purse - and write down (or photograph) the exact amount, and maybe even the serial numbers of the notes. Put the purse in the usual place, do everything as normal - then when you go to pay her, see if it's all there.

If it's all there, great (though I would try this again for a week or two until I felt reasonably sure all was OK, as this hasn't happened every week so far). But if any of it is gone and you know nobody else could have accessed it - then you can be sure of what happened. If there was still any doubt (e.g. she comes up with some excuse), the serial numbers could help to prove it.

It's up to you what you do next, but I do think IF she's been stealing from you more than once, she will also be doing it to others, so the agency and her other clients need to know. It would be unfair on them to just stop using her but let her keep stealing from others - especially if she may have other clients who are less well off, or may be elderly and confused for example.

Cherriesarelovely Thu 24-Jan-13 13:40:45

Marius, that is horrible, what an upsetting experience. I didn't mean the OP should accuse the woman without evidence obviously.

QuickLookBusy Thu 24-Jan-13 13:44:39

Agree with WorkingItOutAsIGo's post.

You said you think this has happened twice over several months. It's not happening every week so I would just make sure my purse isn't left anywhere near her, becuase it is still possible that you have misplaced the money.

Cosmosim Thu 24-Jan-13 13:56:41

Frankly - if she's not done it - I doubt she would want to work for you after the way you're going on about her.

It may be your home, but you chose I employ someone in it and you should try to be fair and professional about it. You complain how crap domestic help has been from this agency... But from your post, you're also showing how crap the employer can be.

I can only imagine the AIBU from her perspective.

By the way - I'm often wondering where my money went too. I'm sure I had more. Im sure i didnt spend it. And I don't have a cleaner to pin it on. Start keeping receipts. You might just be surprised how they all add up. And start looking behind/under things if you're going to leave little pieces of paper in open bowls.

diddl Thu 24-Jan-13 14:10:09

If she is stealing though-would she really take out a all the notes leaving just enough to pay her??

I´d leave out just enough to pay her.

If that vanishes...

TBH, I´d get rid-that fact that you think it is her shows no trust.

FrequentFlyerRandomDent Thu 24-Jan-13 14:30:14

If you ant to keep her, just say the truth.

You have noticed money missing. You cannot believe it is her for one minute, but could she check everywhere when cleaning, etc.

She will know you know and stop. Or continue, in which case just tell the truth to the agency.

If she takes offence, you will get a new cleaner who also knows from the agency that you keep an eye on your possessions.

Incidentally, I lived in an ex communist, Eastern block country and, post communism, many there thought that stealing from employers was an unpleasant but necessary part of life, say like some people in the UK will steal office supplies, e.g. A notepad and pen, and bring them home thinking that overall it makes little difference to their company profits. Similarly, there is a view that if expats could not be sure that a note was missing from their wallet, the note was not missed. I had the most interesting of conversations with one cleaner and my street police man on that subject.

NaturalBaby Thu 24-Jan-13 15:11:36

Stealing is not o.k in anyone's world. Being careless and forgetful is a reason to thing twice, and twice again, before blaming someone with no proof that she is to blame.

You don't even seem to know how much money has gone missing, if it has gone missing at all. £5, £30, £40?

SlowLooseChippings Thu 24-Jan-13 15:29:21

"Frankly - if she's not done it - I doubt she would want to work for you after the way you're going on about her."

Really? I've said she's great, many times, and that she's very good with my son, and pleasant, and good at her job. I'm honestly fond of her and have a few more Bulgarian words in my vocabulary after our chats. So I'm suddenly a terrible employer because I have some suspicions which I've so far kept only to myself and mumsnet? Never mind the fact I often tip £5 or more and am not stingy with holiday money and Christmas money when we are away? Or that I don't much care if she's 20 mins late, and she usually is? I'm not saying I'm award-winning, here, I'm just not suddenly an awful awful person because I can't see any other explanation than the one I really don't want to believe. And I do keep receipts, they usually have my card number on because I use it wherever possible. I counted all the ones I have in my wallet this morning - no answers there.

InigoMontoya, you're right - if she is taking it, it is when i have enough in there not to be noticed. the other time I noticed money missing was when I also had a large sum. I had almost £200 in it for some specific reason (can't remember now) and even after counting up and finding a missing receipt that would have accounted for £20, I was still down £40. After that I started keeping my handbag in my room at night. I don't use much cash so I often have very little, or none - she's well used to me saying "err, just have to pop to the cash machine" as she's got her coat on.

Diddl - the 40 was slightly more than her pay so not exactly just enough to pay with, but as I said, I usually round up when I don't have change. I think I'm with Ronald Reagan on this one: Trust, but verify. If it was just money missing from my purse I'd convince myself that I spent it. It's the fact that change is also missing from the bowl that's a bit of a red flag, because we've both seen it.

FrequentFlyer - that's a good approach, thank you. I will do that.

SlowLooseChippings Thu 24-Jan-13 15:30:05

Natural: £30 from my wallet, one twenty and one ten. £5 from the bowl.

mum11970 Thu 24-Jan-13 15:37:04

I, too, think you need to set a trap. Leaving just her wages in your purse would be pointless, as she's not going to leave you short on her wages. Just leave £5 in the same place again and see if it disappears. I sometimes have a bit more or a bit less in my purse than I thought but £30 is a large inconsistency, if you'd spent it in the last 24 hours I'm pretty sure you'd remember.

SlowLooseChippings Thu 24-Jan-13 15:37:06

I'm not careless with my belongings. I'm occasionally careless with money, but that means buying things my husband does not think are strictly necessary and having a dangerous Amazon habit. It does not mean losing it. I have been forgetful since just before my son was born, which I attribute to lack of sleep but which is getting better. I have no proof, but neither have I any other explanation. I'm left in a difficult position.

(Although who hasn't found some money in a coat pocket that they haven't worn since last year...?)

WowOoo Thu 24-Jan-13 15:38:28

I agree with FrequentFlyer.
You could say you've lost some money and if she notices it when she's cleaning could she let you know.

I'd also set a trap. It would make me feel very uncomfortable in my own home.

ElliesWellies Thu 24-Jan-13 15:53:34

Just make sure you know exactly how much is in your purse and in the bowl by the door before she comes each time. Tell DH so he knows not to move any. Then check every time after she has left. Provided no one else was in the house, you will get your answer.

Cakecrumbsinmybra Thu 24-Jan-13 15:56:13

Really, just set a trap. You're over analysing it.

I'd set a trap too.
Put £5 in the bowl again and also put an extra £30 on top of the £40 in your purse and leave it where it was before.
Mark all of notes with your initials in one corner and if any goes missing you can challenge her and ask to see what money she has and IF your initialled note is there then you know for sure.
I really hope it's not her and hope you get to keep her.
Good luck!

cluelesscleaner Thu 24-Jan-13 16:04:59

I'm a cleaner and I would be mortified if my customers thought I was stealing from them but, I'm also not that naive and know that if anything were to go missing I'd be the first person they'd point the finger at - occupational hazzard of the job!

But I don't agree with you filming her and if I found out that my customers were keeping tabs on me this way I wouldn't work for them.

It seems you have two choices; confront her over it and certainly the method I'd prefer or if you want to keep here ensure that you leave no money laying around in future.

DontmindifIdo Thu 24-Jan-13 16:07:03

I agree, set a trap, set £5 in the bowl and make sure you have £10 more than you need to pay her in your purse, see if either go missing.

If they do, then let the agency know.

Quite frankly, you aren't her employer, she's not your employee, she's employed by the agency, you are a client of the agency, not her directly. To a certain extent, once you know it's not your problem. Refuse to have her in your house, if you feel comfortable having someone else from that agency, then say so, if not, cancel your contract with them altogether. What they do next, how they deal with her, check with her other clients, is not your problem, that's the agency's problem. They also will probably be falling over themselves to keep you happy - a cleaning company can't afford to have the reputation of having lightfingered employees - alot of cleaners (including ours) go in to people's houses when they are out at work. It's not a business you last long in with a reputation of being untrustworthy, even if your cleaning is great...

susanann Thu 24-Jan-13 16:15:26

Many years ago when my kids were quite young some money went missing from my purse. I hadnt been out so I knew I hadnt spent it. After a while I came to the conclusion that one of the kids must have taken it. When my dh came home I told him, but I hadnt said anything to the kids at this time. Anyway I went upstairs for something and there on my bed was a bag of stuff that the Avon lady had delivered earlier. Boy did I feel guilty! Just a thought OP.

Wallace Thu 24-Jan-13 16:30:57

Are you sure it was £30 missing?

If you had £87 in your purse and used £20, that makes £67. you had the £40 left to pay her so only £27 was missing. £7 is easy to forget because it is loose change. A £20 note could have fallen out when you paid the taxi, or you could have handed over two notes stuck together.

Unless of course you had £90 in which case I'm wrong grin

LadyBeagleEyes Thu 24-Jan-13 16:33:10

Wallace , is your real name Hercule? grin

bringnbuy Thu 24-Jan-13 16:38:30

when i was a teenager a million years ago and lived at home my m&d had a cleaner. nice girl who was young. for a long time before i knew for sure i thought she was stealing from me as my spliff used to always be smaller than i had remembered come monday evening (she used to come monday morning). so i set a trap. i scored some fresh gear and put it in the usual storage pot. monday evening is two 2/3d's smaller with finger prints all over it. so i went through my room and discovered she had taken LOADS of things (as i used to be a bit OCD and left everything in the draws etc really tidy/organised). BUT i didn't want to get her in trouble, i thought give her another chance so without telling my mum i phoned her and asked her to meet me in a pub to talk about it (long story). she agreed, couldn't deny that she had taken the stuff only she said her boyfriend was a junky blah blah. so we arranged that every monday when she came to clean she would bring back some of the things she pinched off me and leave them under my bed. this actually worked and i got all my things back (minus one thing). sadly about 6/8 months later she started stealing from my mum (jewellery). she had to go at this point but i thought it would be good to give her another chance.

ModernToss Thu 24-Jan-13 16:40:44

I leave a piece of paper on top clearly dated and showing the amount

I did this with a babysitter who was clearly helping herself from a jar of five franc (two pound) coins. It never happened again.

I would be tempted to remove all temptation rather than confront.

Zalen Thu 24-Jan-13 17:03:16

Haven't read the whole thread, will do tonight at home but how about something like this if you want to set a trap, spy camcorder £20 and disguised as a car remote keyfob, uses a microSD card. You should be able to leave it lying around somewhere with a clear view of your handbag and watch it back on your PC later. Much more discreet than trying to use the webcam on your pc / laptop.

It has the added advantage of giving you absolute proof if you did want to complain to the agency, after all if she's doing this to you she could well be stealing from other families too!

SlowLooseChippings Thu 24-Jan-13 17:06:50

Wallace, good sums grin I did have £90 in 3 x 20s and 3 x 10s, because I needed to make up the £87. I used one of the 20s and only had one 20 and two tens left.

SlowLooseChippings Thu 24-Jan-13 17:10:34

I also agree that I should remove all temptation - it's just that when the money is in my wallet which is itself inside my handbag which I'm not wearing all round the house, I don't really consider it the same as "laying around".

The fiver is fair game though. I've just had some incredibly honest cleaners before, including a lovely polish girl who used to say "you've paid me too much!" Whenever I tipped her or left her extra. My old neighbors inherited her when I left the area, they loved her too.

somuchslimmernow Thu 24-Jan-13 17:26:16

I am a cleaner. I hate it if customers leave money lying around because I know where the finger would be pointed if it got mislaid. I would never steal anything from anyone but not everyone is so honest..tricky one.

aufaniae Thu 24-Jan-13 17:28:45

"I would be tempted to remove all temptation rather than confront."

But if she is a thief, and one who is willing to go in your bag, how do you know she won't move on to other valuables next?

Have you checked your jewellery?

SlowLooseChippings Thu 24-Jan-13 17:40:24

As for my jewellery, someone else got there first! I have very little jewellery as we were burgled 2 years ago just as we moved into this property (locks were faulty but we didn't find this out until we called a locksmith to change the locks)... and all my jewellery was still packed up in two easy to remove boxes, so the whole lot went apart from the earrings, necklace and rings I was wearing.

So now I have two necklaces, 3 pairs of earrings and my wedding rings, and that's it. My only other valuables are my phone and my son, neither of which are ever out of my sight!

TweedSlacks Thu 24-Jan-13 18:12:50

Why not try something slightly different , with the same potential outcome ?
Put alot of change in the pot by the door , a few £2 coins , a few £1 coins , and some 50p's , 20p's , 10p's and 5ps.

You count it out, and write down what you think it comes to . Get DH to count it and if you concur write that amount in pencil on the bottom of the pot.

You could do exactly the same with your purse, but dont leave the note in your purse , put it in as a book mark .

Then , when shes gone wait for DH to come home and reverse the checking .

Act normally , no need to hide anything or worry about £5 notes fluttering away in the wind , getting hoovered up ( I have when rushing around frantically cleaning ) . A £2 coin isnt going anywhere on its own .

Shame as she does sound lovely but this cannot continue

DontmindifIdo Thu 24-Jan-13 18:20:13

I really wouldn't want someone in my home I felt I had to hide things from. It's just all very wrong. You don't employ her so it's not like you have to go through any process to stop having her clean for you.

The trap of various options on here is a better way to go, that or cancel all together with that agency and find someone else/use a different agency. Once the trust is gone, you really can't have that person coming into your home.

DoJo Thu 24-Jan-13 23:30:43

If she did take the money from your purse (and we all seem to agree that it's a big if) then it is a little suspicious that exactly the correct amount for her wages was left behind. I suppose the other way to approach it would be to ask her outright without accusing her e.g 'I know that I had this money the other day when you were here - did you see anyone around who could have taken it/do you remember me spending it on window-cleaner/charity collection/door-to-door gigolo' or similar. That way you will be able to gauge her reaction without having to accuse her and she might actually be able to shed some light on the matter if it wasn't her.
Failing that, you could always go for a slightly more OTT version of the conversation such as confiding in her that you think you aren't coping with the baby as you are obviously spending more money than you realise but you don't remember it - does she think you're losing your mind? She'd have to be a pretty hard-faced cow to let you think you were cracking up if she knew it was her, so she might 'find' the money or similar if she did take it.
Just realised how sneaky I'm coming cross - I honestly don't really spend my time conducting pseudo psychological experiments on people, honest...

ariane5 Thu 24-Jan-13 23:43:24

I can completely understand your frustration about this as Iam at the end of my tether over our cleaner.

She wears our slippers and uses our mouthwash.

Quite a few things have recently gone missing-a box of chocolates,a new pair of earrings,a new gel eyeliner,hair oil,heat protection spray and a scratchcard that had won £15.

If we are not in she leaves about half an hour early (neighbours checked for me)
And she has obviously been doing her washing here when we are not in (found pair of her knickers and a top she had left them by mistake!).

Dh thinks we should set a trap like you have also been advised to do to get absolute proof.

I just want to sack her.

Hope you get to bottom of your problem and find out if your cleaner is also up to no good!

DeepRedBetty Fri 25-Jan-13 00:20:04

ariane5 why haven't you sacked yours yet???

Bet your DH would have understood better if his man-drawer had been rifled.

AlienReflux Fri 25-Jan-13 02:08:31

ariane sack her! bollocks to p proof! cheeky cow left her knickers!!

Yfronts Fri 25-Jan-13 07:19:20

What about setting a trap and then telling her that you know she is stealing. Give her a second chance if she agrees to stop. Tell her how hurt you feel.

diddl Fri 25-Jan-13 08:13:01

I wouldn´t set a trap-I´d sack her.

She´s either stealing, or you think she is.

It´s not workable anymore imo.

SucksToBeMe Fri 25-Jan-13 08:17:19

Ariane, she uses your mouthwash??? shock

ariane5 Fri 25-Jan-13 08:49:15

Yes!! First couple of times I noticed she would clean the bathroom then when she was chatting afterwards I could smell mouthwash v strongly but I wondered maybe she had her own with her.untill I saw her doing it the next time!

Dh keeps telling me not to sack her, that she's just quirky and she may not realise some of the things she does are wrong! He has tried to say our house is such a tip that the items missing are 'lost rather than stolen'.

When I'm there she does actually clean and tidy wonderfully and stays the 2 hrs but cuts corners/leaves early when I'm not there.

HintofBream Fri 25-Jan-13 09:59:40

Surely she trapped herself with her knickers.

ariane5 Fri 25-Jan-13 11:16:51

I think it is sacking time-but I've never sacked anybody before.I'd phone agency but I want to get key back first!

Anyway I feel like I've hijacked thread a bit so now that I've seen sense I will let you get back to OP issue with her cleaner smile

cumfy Fri 25-Jan-13 11:44:11

Did you give the taxi 1x£20 or 2x£10 ?

If you gave 2x£20 thinking 2x£10 might possibly explain things.

Wouldn't trust "a trap"; you might get a "false negative"; she won't be stealing at every opportunity.

I would let her go and tell her the truth:
You suspect she stole some money (be very specific and calm)
Note her response.


"I really want to talk to you about something"
"Come and sit down."
<Big pause>

Note response and then talk about rings on the bath or you suspect DH is cheating had she noticed anything ........
Again see if she's relieved.

I think your suspicions are correct BTW, and you sound a little in denial.sad

DontmindifIdo Fri 25-Jan-13 12:31:01

Ariane - you can lie to the agency and her that your financial situation has changed and you can't afford a cleaner anymore. Agencies will be hearing that a lot these days.

Leave it a few weeks and use a different agency.

NaturalBaby Fri 25-Jan-13 12:40:17

This whole thread is part of the reason why I go out when my cleaner comes, taking my wallet and not leaving any cash or valuables lying around.

gotthemoononastick Fri 25-Jan-13 12:43:07

Slowloose...go with your instinct.You know really....Not good to have your home security breached.Things will never be easy again and quite frankly you have only noticed money missing.Just think sugar,butter cheese meat!!!

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