SINGAPORE - For almost a year, a maid helped herself to jewellery that her employer kept in a safe with a faulty locking mechanism.
Radessa Gicaro Grine, 45, needed money for her son's education and to support her siblings in the Philippines.
She stole 21 items worth more than $9,000, and pawned all except a Tiffany silver necklace, which she kept for herself.
Grine was jailed for seven months on Wednesday (Jan 20) after she pleaded guilty to one count of theft as a servant.
She worked for Ms Grover Ritu Rakhi, 50, from May 2011 to January last year.
The court heard that Ms Rakhi kept her jewellery in an old safe in the master bedroom. The safe was usually kept closed but not locked, as the locking mechanism was faulty.
Grine found out about the jewellery and the safe, and decided to steal some of the items.
From Feb 2, 2019 to Jan 3 last year, she stole 21 items - including nine gold bangles, six gold chains, four rings and the Tiffany silver necklace - with a total value of $9,790.
She pawned all of the items except for the necklace at various pawnshops for $8,835. The money was transferred to her family in the Philippines.
On Jan 17 last year, Ms Rakhi discovered that a pouch in the safe she used to keep all her gold chains was empty. She made a police report four days later.
The pawn tickets were recovered from Grine's possession or the various pawnshops.
On Wednesday, Deputy Public Prosecutor Delicia Tan urged the court to jail the accused for eight months, saying there was a clear breach of trust.
But Grine's lawyer Ms Lolita Andrew asked the court for a sentence of no more than five months.
She said her client stole the items, as she was desperate to save the life of her niece in the Philippines who had cancer.
"It was not for personal benefit, though she did indeed take the items and pawn them at the pawn shop," Ms Andrew said. "These are circumstances whereby she was consumed heavily with emotion, and acted in desperate need."
The defence lawyer added that the accused kept the pawn tickets and had intended to redeem the items and return them to the safe.
But DPP Tan pointed out that Grine was caught with the stolen Tiffany necklace which she did not pawn.
"She admitted she stole it because she wanted to wear it, which is why the item was found in her possession," said the DPP.
"And while she did keep the pawn tickets, it is hard to believe that the accused wanted to redeem the items (to return them)."
The court was told the maid has not made any restitution, and that the victim may have to pay out of her own pocket to redeem some of the items.
District Judge Ong Chin Rhu noted that Grine was remorseful and ordered her to begin serving her sentence on Wednesday.
For theft as a servant, she could have been jailed for up to seven years and fined.