Part-time cleaner jailed for stealing employer's jewellery

Part-time cleaner Rafizah Rafie, 32, was jailed for 10 weeks on Tuesday after stealing gold jewellery worth about $4,000 from her employer over the course of four months last year. -- PHOTO: SINGAPORE POLICE FORCE
Part-time cleaner Rafizah Rafie, 32, was jailed for 10 weeks on Tuesday after stealing gold jewellery worth about $4,000 from her employer over the course of four months last year. -- PHOTO: SINGAPORE POLICE FORCE

SINGAPORE - In dire financial straits and desperate to support her five children, a part-time cleaner cleaned out her employer's jewellery drawer.

Over the course of four months last year, Rafizah Rafie, 32, stole gold jewellery such as earrings and bangles worth about $4,000 from Indian housewife Anitha Lakshmanan.

She was jailed for 10 weeks on Tuesday after pleading guilty to nine charges of theft from her employer, three of which were proceeded on.

Rafizah had been employed in July 2013 to clean Ms Lakshmanan's Anchorvale flat. She was paid $14 per hour for a cleaning session which would usually last four hours.

The accused was aware of the drawer where Ms Lakshmanan, 34, kept her jewellery as her employer had previously asked her to put some of it away there.

During cleaning sessions from February to May last year, Rafizah would take pieces of jewellery from the drawer, which she would later pawn for sums ranging from $70 to $750.

Last May, Ms Lakshmanan and her husband, IT consultant Satyanarayanan Karthikeyan, also 34, discovered that some of the jewellery had disappeared.

They spoke to Rafizah about the missing jewellery, but she denied taking anything and even offered to help them search their home again.

After Mr Satyanarayanan repeatedly asked her if she had stolen the jewellery, she finally confessed to the theft later that month. The couple made a police report on May 29, 2014.

The police have successfully recovered all the stolen items.

Rafizah's lawyer Ravinderpal Singh said in mitigation that it was her first brush with the law and that she is facing severe financial difficulties supporting her five young children.

Her ex-husband is imprisoned, leaving her with custody of the three children from their marriage. Rafizah's oldest child is 15 and her youngest is just a year old. The family receives assistance from Daybreak Family Service Centre.

District Judge Janet Wang said that she was mindful that Rafizah was a first-time offender, but that there had been a "certain breach of trust" in her stealing from her employer, and that she had committed "a multitude of offences in the span of four months."

For each count of theft, Rafizah could have been jailed up to three years and fined.