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Maid who claimed Singaporean employer poked and lied to her gets jail for stealing S$1,410, other items

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Rina Tilaar admitted to stealing cash and other items when her employer’s family went out for evening walks. —  Reuters pic
Rina Tilaar admitted to stealing cash and other items when her employer’s family went out for evening walks. — Reuters pic

SINGAPORE, Sept 12 — A 45-year-old domestic worker was sentenced to four weeks’ jail yesterday after she pleaded guilty to stealing S$1,410 (RM4,281.14) in cash and other items such as a branded coin pouch from her employer’s family. 

Rina Tilaar, an Indonesian who turned 46 yesterday, sobbed throughout the court hearing. Remanded two weeks ago, she appeared via a video link.

Before pleading guilty to three theft charges, she alleged that her employer, who lives in a landed property in Ang Mo Kio, had “(treated) me like (an) animal” and poked her with chopsticks.

She added: “My employer lied to me I always kept all that she did to me, I never complained to MOM (the Ministry of Manpower)… I just (kept) quiet because I want to work, but really, if I want to steal the money, I (would have) run away already.

“I don’t know how to say, I don’t have (a) witness.”

Apart from English, she also spoke in Bahasa Indonesia, which an interpreter then translated into English.

In response, State Prosecuting Officer Nasri Haron said that because Rina did not accept all the facts, the prosecution might have to review the charges against her and their sentencing recommendation of six weeks’ jail.

However, after speaking to the interpreter, Rina apologised and said that she would admit to everything. She added that she had been “very sad just now”. 

She also confirmed to Senior District Judge Ong Hian Sun that she was not induced to plead guilty.

A fourth theft charge was taken into consideration for sentencing.

The case

The court heard that Rina began working for her 39-year-old Singaporean male employer on January 28.

She signed a declaration form stating that she had S$17.70 and 200 rupiah (about 20 Singapore cents) in her possession. Her employer remitted her monthly salary to her Indonesian bank account.

In February, her employer’s mother began noticing that cash was missing from her wallet. 

Her Braun Buffel coin pouch vanished from her handbag that month, followed by cash totalling S$500.

In March, Rina took a cardholder, valued at S$15, from a table in the living room of the house. It contained S$52 and an Ez-link stored-value card with S$20.

The cardholder and the items in it belonged to her employer’s wife, who later discovered cash missing from her wallet on four occasions in April.

Between mid-April and May, Rina’s employer also noticed that sums of cash amounting to S$300 had gone missing from his wallet.

On May 21, when Rina was out for a walk with his mother, he and his wife checked Rina’s belongings. 

They found about S$1,200 in the Braun Buffel coin pouch — a significantly higher amount than her declared possessions — and called the police.

When police officers arrived, Rina admitted stealing cash and other items when the family went out for their evening walks.

The single mother of three pleaded for leniency and said that she wants to continue working to support her family.

“I promise I will not repeat my foolish (acts) anymore. I am very sorry to the court, to my employers and to my agencies, and also to Your Honour,” she added through the interpreter.

In sentencing Rina, Senior District Judge Ong noted that a substantial amount of the money that went missing had been recovered.

The cardholder and Ez-link card were not recovered, and Rina has not reimbursed her employer’s wife.

For each charge of theft, she could have been jailed up to seven years and fined. — TODAY       

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