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Filipina jailed for 3 months after 4th theft conviction

28 January 2022

By Daisy CL Mandap


The chocolate theft happened in this Wellcome store in Central. (photo from hongkonghomes)

A 38-year-old Filipina permanent resident with a string of criminal convictions was sentenced to three months in jail on Thursday for stealing 17 packs of chocolates and a bottle each of shampoo and conditioner from a Wellcome Supermarket in Central.

But Gladys de Vera, a single mother with a history of drug dependence, was acquitted after trial in Eastern Court of another count of theft that allegedly happened a few hours before she was caught red-handed on Jun 22 last year.

The stolen items amounting to $1,095 in total were found in an blue eco bag that she was carrying when she left the supermarket located in the basement of Regent Centre in Central.


In the morning of that day, the manager of the shop called Mr So told the court he noticed that a lot of chocolate packs were missing from the shelves. The CCTV footage taken from the shop showed a woman had taken them after lingering just outside the store

So told the staff to watch out for the woman, and at 2:30pm of the same day the assistant manager, Mr Ho, saw someone resembling her enter the store.

Ho said he saw the woman take chocolates and some shampoo and conditioner, and put them in her trolley. She left without paying for the items.

When stopped just outside the store, the defendant was speaking on the phone, and said she had had been distracted by the phone call that she forgot to pay for the goods. She offered to pay for them but the staff called the police and she was arrested.


For the first charge, the prosecution said 29 packs of chocolates were stolen as well as shampoo and conditioner. It was also alleged that the woman shown on CCTV that morning was the defendant.

De Vera pleaded not guilty to both theft charges, saying there was no evidence that it was she who took the goods in the first count. She did not dispute the CCTV footage of her taking items from the shelves in the second count, but claimed she had not intended to steal them.

In his verdict, Magistrate Gary Chu ruled that in the first count there was doubt as to the identity of the woman in the CCTV as it did not show her face, nor of how much was taken from the shelves. The CCTV also showed the woman taking away some hair gel, but there was no allegation about this against the defendant.

Pindutin para sa detalye

Thus, he ruled that the prosecution had failed to prove beyond reasonable doubt that De Vera was the one who committed the alleged theft in count number one.

But for the second charge, the defendant was said to have been caught red-handed, with two staff at the store testifying that they saw her take the items which were found in her bag after she left without paying.

Magistrate Chu said he found the two witnesses honest and reliable, and were not shaken during cross-examination. He convicted the defendant based on their testimonies and the other evidence.

In mitigation, the defense lawyer asked for a lenient sentence for De Vera, saying her drug dependence was what made her steal.

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De Vera was said to have 10 previous convictions. Three of them were for theft, while the rest were all drug-related, except for the most recent one, where she was fined $500 in Kowloon City Court for unlawful gathering.

According to the defense lawyer, De Vera used to work as a bartender and was earning between $16,000 and $17,000 a month.

“She worked in bars, maybe that was where she came into contact with drugs,” said the defense lawyer, who called De Vera a “victim” because of her drug dependence.

Recently, the defendant reportedly finished four months in a drug detention facility, and is now said to be drug-free. Her lawyer asked the magistrate to consider that she was in some sort of detention recently in coming up with the appropriate sentence.


He also told the court that De Vera’s 17-year-old son had recently figured in a motorcycle accident in the Philippines, and the defendant wanted to be able to go home soon to be with him.

Magistrate Chu said that for repeat offenders a prison sentence was inevitable. He also said that judging from the quantity of goods that was stolen it was obvious that the defendant had intended to sell them.

He said the sentence of three months is prescribed for cases of thefts where the amount involved is $100 or more.

“Having regard to all the circumstances I will impose three months’ imprisonment,” he said.


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