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What to do when you suspect your maid is stealing from you

Pilfering and thieving are two problems that are common with domestic helps. Dealing with it can be tricky.

Pilfering, Stealing and Theft a Common Problem

Hiring domestic help through cleaning services such as those advertised in newspapers or online cleaning service aggregators such as is convenient but it comes with its own set of complications. One of the biggest problems of hiring maids is pilfering and thieving. Everyone, who has at any time hired a cleaning service in Dubai or a maid, has had to deal with this problem sometime or the other.

Whether you hire a domestic directly or through an agency or via an online cleaning service or a service aggregator, the problem is widespread and hard to control. Though hiring through a registered service does help to mitigate the problem to a certain extent.

The Crux of the problem

The problem is not contained to just some maid in Dubai, it is a global phenomenon. But, in Dubai, it takes another dimension as the domestic staff is generally drawn from third world countries such as Philippines, Bangladesh, Nepal or India. Most of the domestics come from extremely poor backgrounds and are in Dubai to earn money to send back home to sustain large families.

A lot of them have taken large loans to fund their visas and travel to Dubai and may need to pay a commission to the agents who bring them over. This leaves very little real income for the domestics to support themselves or their families. Leading to a paucity of funds and tendency to augment the income through stealing.

Lack of money and resources force some of the domestics to pilfer from their employers, but this may not be the only reason for stealing. Some people are inherently dishonest and steal even when their circumstances are favorable. They may earn well enough to meet all their needs and wants, but, they still want more and resort to stealing from their work place.

Signs That Your Domestic is Stealing

It often takes a while before we realize that things are missing from the house. Most of us are programmed to believe in the inherent goodness of people and may take some time to understand that stuff is not just misplaced, it is missing.

You need to be on your guard when:

  • You seem to be buying more food and grocery every week than you did before.
  • Money seems to be missing.
  • You seem to constantly misplace clothing, jewellery or expensive things and can’t seem to find them.
  • Find things in out of the way hard to notice places where you are certain you did not put them.
  • You suspect your wardrobe or other out of bound areas have been rifled through.
  • Your toiletries, soaps, perfumes and makeup are missing.
  • Guests report missing money or possessions.
  • The maid is using her mobile phone constantly while at work. Receiving too many phone calls and texts should be a warning sign.

It always starts with small things just to see if you notice it or not and then escalates to bigger and more expensive items. Food, supplies and groceries are the most common items that are pilfered.

Though this doesn’t happen very often, but it is something that one must be aware of. The domestics could be part of a larger gang of thieves and robbers who are on the lookout for their next target or victim. These gang could be dangerous and highly effective in robbing your house while you are away. So you need to be on your guard when hiring a new maid or cleaning service. Dubai has strict laws and you can prevent such incidences if you are careful.

Taking Care When Hiring Domestics

Prevention is better than cure, this adage is true for hiring a maid or a cleaning service in Dubai. Make sure that the service you hire is reliable and registered as a domestic service provider with the proper authorities. Hiring from an unregistered service may cause problems if you wish to lodge a formal police complaint. Moreover, registered service providers are required to conduct proper background checks on the people they take on their rolls. This ensures that the maids they provide are reliable and have a good track record with no criminal complaints or charges against them. Whether you hire through an online cleaning service in Dubai or through any other channel such as, you have to be sure that the service is legal and above board.

If you are hiring the domestic on your own, then make sure that you ask for previous employment record and recommendations. Do check with the previous employers about the character and credentials of the maid. In case the maid is not willing to provide any references of previous employers, then reject her right away.

Once you have decided to hire a maid, make sure that you have her registered with the local authorities. This will help you in case you find that she is stealing from you. It acts as a deterrent for anyone involved with a gang or with ideas of stealing. This also helps in ensuring that the domestic you have hired is not an illegal migrant in the country. Hiring an illegal migrant may get you into trouble.

Despite Precautions, Stealing Happens

Thieves will find a way to steal, no matter how cautious you may be or how diligent you may have been in hiring a maid you suppose is honest. When you do become aware of stealing and pilfering in your home, you need to have proof before you can directly confront the maid. Without proof you cannot say for sure that it is your maid and not someone else. Accusing your maid under such conditions can backfire.

Whenever you hire a maid or a cleaning service in Dubai, the first thing to do is to lock away all the valuables and cash in a place that is not easily accessible to the maid. If possible, do not leave the cleaning service or the maid alone in the house. It is highly likely that the maid will not steal in the first few days of working for you. This is to instill confidence in her honesty. Once you are convinced of her honesty, the stealing will start. That is when you need to be careful.

How to Deal With the Situation

As mentioned before, it is difficult to deal with a thieving maid. If you do not have proof of the theft or the theft is of small inconsequential things, the best way is to deal with it in a non-confrontational matter.

  • Keep your eyes open for things that seem to be missing or misplaced in the house. These could be things such as curios, items of clothing, little trinket, cash or food items. As soon as you notice something missing, ask the maid if she knows what has happened to it. This will let the maid know that you are aware of what is happening in the house and put her on her guard.
  • You could tell her in a friendly manner that you seem to have misplaced an item and if she sees it she should return it back to you. In most instances, you are likely to find the missing article once the maid realizes that you are not oblivious to missing stuff.
  • Mentioning that you have a monitoring system such as a CCTV camera or a web camera also helps in resolving the issue without a big showdown.
  • Keep something that you believe that your maid is likely to steal and then ask about it as soon as you notice it is gone. Be very firm about the fact that you know the thing is missing and that you are sure about where you had put it. It is more than likely that you maid will find it in an unusual place.
  • If you find articles in unlikely places, ask the maid immediately about it. Enquire why she had put it there and warn her about moving stuff around without your knowledge. If the maid knows that you notice stuff missing or misplaced instantly, she is going to be more cautious about stealing from you.

What To Do Once You are Sure

Once you are convinced that the maid is stealing you could have a showdown with her. Threatening to call the police may have a huge impact on the maid. She may be willing to return back all your belongings and leave your employment without any more hassles.

You could also contact the service through which you employed the maid and lodge a complaint with them. They may take action on your behalf. Most maids would be unable to find work once they have been marked as thieves.

If these methods fail to work and stealing continues, you could start gathering proof of stealing.

Install a monitoring system to watch over the maid. Record her activities on the system and when you catch her stealing, confront her with the proof you have. No one wants to admit to stealing without conclusive proof. The maid is also highly unlikely to admit to it unless you can show her the proof. CCTV footage is irrefutable proof that she has been stealing from you.

When you have the proof, directly confront the maid with the evidence and ask her about the stealing. Withhold her payment and/or ID till you have recovered your stuff from her. Inform the agency through which you hired the maid and lodge a complaint. Do not give a recommendation to the maid under any circumstances. If you do, she may continue to work in other households and steal from them.

You have another option of calling the police, if the theft is of valuable things or a lot of cash you should report the matter. Hand over all the proof you have gathered to the police and let then handle the matter from there. Police may not get involved if you do not have conclusive evidence or the maid has been stealing only petty things that are not of any major value.

As soon as you are sure that your maid is stealing, whether you decide to confront her or not, get rid of her. Fire her and look or someone else. There is no point on keeping a thief in your house for longer than is necessary.

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