Jail for maid who unlocked employer's safe by trial and error to steal cash

SINGAPORE - A maid helped herself to the contents of her employer's safe after she successfully guessed a six-digit code to it by trial and error.

Istikomah, who goes by one name, took cash totalling more than $8,000 over several occasions from the safe, which belonged to Ms Hu Jing Jing, 31.

The 38-year-old Indonesian woman was on Friday (Aug 27) sentenced to six months and six weeks' jail.

She had pleaded guilty to one count each of theft and obstruction of justice.

The court heard that Istikomah started working for Ms Hu in February 2019.

Six months later, Ms Hu acquired a safe which she used to store cash. Ms Hu then placed the safe in Istikomah's bedroom.

Soon after, the maid made multiple attempts to unlock the safe. She successfully guessed the master code in October 2019.

Istikomah later unlocked the safe multiple times to steal Ms Hu's money.

The maid spent some of the cash on personal expenses such as clothes, food and jewellery.

Between September and December last year, Istikomah approached a fellow maid and asked for help to exchange the remainder of her ill-gotten gains into Indonesian rupiah.

Istikomah also told her unsuspecting friend to remit the money to Indonesia.

Deputy Public Prosecutor Tan Jing Min said: "The accused lied to the witness that she had received the foreign currencies from various boyfriends and in red packets.

"The witness did not suspect that the monies were stolen and helped the accused exchange foreign currency at least five times."

There were also about five remittances involving about $3,700 in total. This second maid did not receive any monetary rewards for helping Istikomah, the court heard.

On Jan 5, Istikomah told her employer that she wanted to stop working for her.

Ms Hu opened her safe four days later as she wanted to give the maid some cash for her return home.

She then found a portion of her money missing, and her friend alerted the police later that day.

On Jan 14, Istikomah admitted to the police that she had stolen from Ms Hu.

Later that day, the offender told her friend through text messages that she was under investigation.

The DPP said: "The accused asked the witness to tell the police that she helped the accused to remit money three times, a fact which she knew was false.

"The accused had done so to prevent the police from finding out that she had stolen more money than she had initially admitted to the police so that she would get a lower punishment."

For theft, an offender can be jailed for up to seven years and fined.