Jail for maid who stole over $6,000 employer's daughter had saved in piggy bank since 2009

SINGAPORE - A maid who had already borrowed about $10,000 from her employer for supposed medical expenses for her family in the Philippines wanted more money.

Joann Desoloc Martinez, 44, decided to steal it from a piggy bank containing her employer's daughter's savings from her allowances and Chinese New Year hongbao since 2009.

She would use tweezers to remove the cash and did so over more than two years, fishing out a total of $6,211.

Martinez's theft was uncovered in February this year when her employer broke open the piggy bank belonging to her 20-year-old daughter and discovered it only contained $144.

Martinez was on Tuesday (May 31) jailed for five months, after pleading guilty to a theft-in-dwelling charge.

State Prosecuting Officer Lam Peng Choy said in court documents that Martinez had been working for the family since 2015 and was paid $650 per month, with her main duties including cooking and performing household chores.

"By her own account, the complainant and her family treated her well," he said.

Martinez's employer - a 54-year-old woman - has kept ceramic piggy banks for her two daughters since 2009. Over the years, her daughters saved their excess allowance and red packets from Chinese New Year in their respective piggy banks.

Martinez claimed in early 2019 that her family in the Philippines required money for medical expenses. She borrowed about $10,000 in total from her employer, but deemed it insufficient and decided to steal from her employer's daughters whom she knew kept substantial amounts of cash in their piggy banks.

Between February 2019 and June 2021, when she was alone in the house, the accused entered the victim's bedroom to steal from the piggy bank.

The prosecutor said "(Martinez) was unable to recall the total number of occasions she stole from the piggy bank, save that she stole sums of $50 to $200 on each occasion".

After stealing the cash from the piggy bank, Martinez remitted the money to her family in the Philippines over numerous occasions.

Following the discovery of the missing money, the employer lodged a police report and Martinez was arrested on April 13 this year.

According to court documents, the stolen cash was not recovered and no restitution has been made to date.

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