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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?

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.

WorkingItOutAsIGo Thu 24-Jan-13 13:25:45

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

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

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.

DitaVonCheese Thu 24-Jan-13 13:35:34

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).

MyNameIsInigoMontoya Thu 24-Jan-13 13:37:07

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.

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