Wednesday, May 14, 2008

to catch a thief

First off I really need to say:
thank you for all the comments.

At the beginning of the year I swore that I was going to be diligent about replying to comments by typing replies back in the comments section myself. Like most resolutions I make around the New Year, I failed miserably.

I need to get back on that horse however, because it is the most tangible way I can thank you all so very much. I get so much from this blog, and while some of it comes from just the keeping of it, a good portion of my enjoyment comes from the connection with folks out there who read and comment back. In the past couple of months now, with this Blog365 insanity, I often find myself far more excited to see comments then being faced with my blank entry screen each day. I have deep appreciation for the people who take the time to bounce a thought back my way.

Case in point: I really appreciate all the feedback about my thieving housekeeper issue. Here's what I did about it.

The first thing I did was to have a locksmith come the next day and change the locks. That really was key (get it?) in regaining my sense of security (and sanity). I didn't suspect she'd try to come and steal more stuff, but I also didn't suspect she'd be the type in the first place to steal money from a client, let alone from a kid.

The next thing I did was try to contact her to discuss it. I agreed with Kim that this probably was a communication problem. During the CleaningLady's employment here, I'd acquired a few new pieces of furniture and a shedding dog. I spoke with her about this, and she told me she was fine with everything. I suspect that she actually was not. That's too bad, because not only am I approachable, but I even opened the door for discussion regarding her pay.

I didn't feel 100% great about stopping payment on the check for her recent cleaning either. She probably stole about twice that amount over the months, but she did clean that last day.

Once I nailed her stealing money, I tried phoning the CleaningLady several times over a couple of days, but she didn't answer. Typically she always answers the phone when I call as she can see my number. She doesn't know how to retrieve her voicemail messages, so she has told me never to leave a message. She has told me however, that I can text her. After several attempts at calling, I sent her the following text message:

I have stopped payment on my recent check to you. I would be glad to reissue a new check (less the $18 that I can prove you have taken), even though I am certain you have taken much more than that. Please feel free to call me to discuss the matter (or not). I no longer require your services. This situation is a shame.

HolyCrapoli, I cannot for the life of me believe that I fired someone via text message. She never called back.

Monday I called MerryMaids to let them know I had to let her go and why, just in case they were going to take her on again. That's when I was advised that the reason they let her go last fall was not due to a decrease in their client base, but because she was caught stealing money out of a child's piggy bank, and she admitted to it!

So it's a pattern. And (sorry, Kim) no amount of open conversation could have fixed that. But it is a pattern, which means it isn't me, and that is great because I was taking it personally for some reason. I am embarrassed to say that knowing she has jilted others somehow makes me feel better, even though I feel truly sad for everyone else she has harmed.

Learning that she is a repeat offender, I tried to track down her business license information to file a complaint. I'm still working on that, but more than likely, she never really had one in the first place, and that's why I can't find her.

I have decided that tomorrow I am not going out at my usual time with my dad, as I am still a bit nervous that the CleaningLady didn't get the text message, or perhaps she doesn't know yet that I stopped payment on the check, or maybe she is going to come and try to kill me or something (did I mention that she has a bumper sticker on her car that says "Contract Killer"? Please tell me that's the name of band or something, eh?).

I have spoken to MyFavoriteKid about the whole ordeal, and he understands why I felt the need to keep testing her for so long to be sure, and why I grilled him about possible other places the money could have gone. I also talked with MyFK about all of the emotions that ran through me that day when I was able to finally prove without a doubt that it was CleaningLady who was stealing... and how I felt knowing that he'd been having similar feelings. We had a nice talk about it, and he's all good. Especially since I repaid him his stolen money. Which I can't say has my wallet feeling too great (heh heh), but oh well.

So there we are. I have someone new coming in tomorrow morning (from a small agency that is bonded, licensed, insured) to look my place over and give me an estimate.


The Bon said...

Googling "Contract Killer" brings up both a movie and a clothing company. The latter seems to have something to do with paintball.

Glad you got to talk to Merry Maids and give yourself a little ease.

M-H said...

Well done. Stick with the agencies from now on, eh? :)

Helen said...

I would imagine you'll probably never see sight of her again. Good riddance :-) and well-handled. Glad the kidlet is good with it too, an important life lesson perhaps?

Lorena said...

What a hard, difficult issue to face. Not that I'm glad she'd been stealing from someone else... never mind; I am glad, because it certainly cleared some things up and gave you a little peace of mind in this chaos.

Wendy said...

I would stay home today as well. A person that can still from children is not someone I would trust at all. Good luck with the new cleaning lady!

jodi said...

She will likely be too embarrassed by the whole thing to ever show up at your place again. Although, you'd think she'd be too embarrassed to ever steal from a child again after being fired for it. Huh.

It's probably not cool not to pay her despite how much she stole, but I'd wait until she comes asking for payment anyway. Which, in this case, probably means you'll never have to pay her.

TheAmpuT said...

TheBon ~ Hmm. Well, my town is famous for being home to an awesome paintball field. The logo from the clothes (or the movie) doesnt match her bumper sticker though. Hopefully it's not a second business she is advertising ;-)

M-H ~ Yes, I will.

helen ~ I don't think she'll come around again, no. And yes, good lesson for both of us!

lorena ~ yeah, I getcha ;-)

wendy ~ Yes, at home today knitting socks!

jodi ~ I agree, it didnt feel cool to not pay her. I offered to pay her what I owed her for that cleaning less the amount of the stolen money. I think that's fair, and for me, it's line with my integrity. And she should feel embarrassed! She has 5 kids of her own!

~Donna~ said...

Glad this is finally resolved...i really don't think she will be back to ask for payment for that last cleaning time...

Janice in GA said...

I just had a feeling there might be something else like that in her past, since she'd left the other company.

Good for you. Shame on her.

We were listening to an audiobook recently where the subject was people cheating. The crux of the matter was, most people will cheat a LITTLE bit if they're pretty sure they won't get caught, or if money is involved. She probably thought she was taking a LITTLE bit, and that was ok.

It's not, of course.

TheAmpuT said...

donna ~ I dont think she'll come back either, and today would have been her regular day to come. I haven't heard a peep out of her corner.

janice ~ Yeah, well a little bit here and there adds up, ya know? Kinda of like when a kids take a pour out of the liquor cabinet every once in awhile, and then all of the sudden it's all gone and the kid thinks it's not noticeable, but the folks only check the bar once a year for the holiday party or something and ask me how I know about this....hahahaha.

Kim Ayres said...

It's good to hear you've finally reached resolution, even if it wasn't ideal. You did everything a concerned and warm person could do

TheAmpuT said...

Kim ~ thanks, and I really appreciate your pointing me in the direction of thinking more about the communication.

saraarts said...

Oh, good grief! How horrible to be stealing money from children! And not that any kid would deserve it, but few kids deserve it less than yours.

I hope this woman gets help. Meanwhile, good for you for doing the right thing, and yeah, I can also imagine your relief, because I would feel the same way.

TheAmpuT said...

sara ~ yeah, it just sucked. I hope she gets help, too. Her poor karma! ;-)