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$100-theft ruse backfires

08 April 2017

A Filipina domestic helper admitted in Eastern Court on March 16 that she stole a $100 bill from her employer, saying she wanted to force her dismissal.

But her ruse only led to Jo Anna Salazar, 32, being sentenced to seven days in jail, suspended for 18 months, and to pay court costs of $500.

Magistrate Bina Chainrai said in sentencing that she considered the maid’s guilty plea and the fact that the money she stole was a small amount and was recovered by its owner.

“Defendant, the offense of theft is a breach of trust and calls for immediate custodial sentence,” said Chainrai.

“But I note that you have admitted the offense, the money stolen has been recovered and that it will not be repeated. I also consider that you have a young son to support,” the magistrate said.

The prosecution said in a report that the maid’s employer, Wong Chi-hang, called the police after she discovered that one of four $100 bills that she kept in a box atop a shelf on Jan 2 had gone missing.
When Wong checked the CCTV footage, she saw the maid taking the money from the box. She called the police and when the officers searched the helper’s personal belongings, they found the missing banknote.

Salazar was arrested but was released after she posted a $1,000 bail.

In mitigation, the duty lawyer representing the maid said Salazar came to Hong Kong in early 2015 to work for Wong as a domestic helper to support 12-year-old son who she had left in the care of her sister.

She signed a new contract with the employer early this year, but, shortly after that, she noticed that Wong began treating her badly and flared up easily, the lawyer said.

Salazar tried to negotiate an early termination but Wong refused, so the helper decided to steal the money on purpose, being aware of the CCTV camera in the flat, as a ruse to get her employer to fire her. – Vir B. Lumicao

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