Petty Theft Proof your Home from the Household Help

Theft when it happens inside our very own homes can be very unnerving.  Your sanctuary is violated and trust with the "kasambahays" (helpers) we treat as family is broken.

The past 13 years has been petty theft free in our house.  My husband and I used to employ strong safeguards to avoid petty theft but we may have slipped and relaxed over the years (See my blog on Petty Robbery at our Home). Petty theft unless it is committed by a pro is sometimes our own doing.   As my mom constantly reminds me,  "It is your responsibility as employers to not tempt the helpers to do something evil.  It's like leaving a plate full of steaming hot, delicious adobo in front of someone who is hungry and telling them not to take a single bite out of it,  mean yon di ba?"

So here is a list of the things to do to avoid petty theft inside our own homes:

Don't let the helpers see you counting money. I have been negligent in this.  Sometimes,  I absent mindedly bring out  cash in my wallet and count it in front of them.

Don't talk about money in front of the helpers ex. savings, big purchases, business profits etc. It is hard to follow this rule especially when yaya is with us wherever we go.  Sometimes, my husband and I discuss a big purchase where price is discussed and within the earshot of the maid.  A big no, no.

Don't leave money/jewelry/expensive stuff where helpers can have private access to.  I'm so guilty of this.  I just leave my bag in my room with my wallet and the same goes for my husband.  Kampante na kasi:(  When the helper goes in the room to clean,  she can innocently take a few hundred bills and we will never notice.

Since the incident,  I always make sure to bring my wallet  or at least hide it somewhere. Akala nga ng mga anak ko lagi ako may pupuntahan kasi dinner lang sa baba may wallet pa:-)  I used to have a small bag that I lock with a combination padlock but it got broken and I never got around to buying a replacement.  To do.  My friend bought a small digital vault to keep wallets and small valuables in.

Tell helpers to leave the doors to the room open while they are cleaning it.  With doors wide open,  hopefully they won't be tempted to open cabinets and check out our stuff since anyone can just walk in any moment.

Keep receipts/credit card bills etc from the eyes of helpers.  I used to have a helper who looked at the tags of the shirts I bought.  In a way,  they will probably feel that getting a few hundreds from you will not matter if you can buy a very expensive shirt or can blow thousands over a meal.

Mentally do a lifestyle check.  O di ba, hindi lang sa Senate may lifestyle check.  Notice the spending of your helper. One of my suspects is my helper, who never  borrowed money from me (di ba usually mahilig sila mag-advance) and yet can afford to eat in McDonald's quite regularly on her own money when she picks up the kids.  She also has new clothes all the time.  It makes me think,  where is she getting all that money?

Record grocery purchases.  I circle the date when I purchase a sack of rice.  More or less,  in our household of 5 adults (3 of those are helpers) and 3 kids a 50 kilo sack of rice should last for more or less 2 months.  If it drastically changes I talk to the help to remind them to save.  This will let them know that I know.

To make meal planning easier,  and it also serves as my record,  I ask the helper to write down the food inside the freezer and I scratch it off when I use it in my meal planning for the week. As for my groceries, I just do my dry goods groceries once a month.  I just make a mental note that I bought 15 cartons of fresh milk and it should last me well over a month.

Don't leave depositing large sums of money to the care of the helper/driver.  As katamaran sets in,  sometimes I let the driver deposit money for me.  For banks that still accepts deposit slips,  I seal the deposit slips and cash/check in an envelope and ask the teller to reseal it.  For banks that don't have deposit slips already like BPI,  I don't send my driver anymore since he has to be the one to enter the details in the automated teller.

Get change from purchases immediately from the helper/driver.  Sometimes when we buy a pizza,  there is change left on kitchen counter table and it takes me awhile to get it.  My husband says it shows the helper that I don't care too much for money by just allowing the money to sit there for a long time.  Someone might also be tempted to get the change and it would be hard to pinpoint who did it.

Always ask for a receipt in all the purchases they make for you.  I used to let parking receipts slide but I figured I don't want the cloud of doubt over a P40 parking so I just ask the driver to hand me the parking receipt all the time.  I also ask the helper to give me receipts for the palengke (wet market) even if they are just handwritten by the manangs in the market.  This way they know that I am checking and cannot do hanky panky.

Lock the doors to the master's bedroom or in the home office when you will be away from the house.   You don't want the helpers prying over your stuff when you are away.  The stuff we lost were inside cabinets so the person who stole it really went through our things.

Assign only one person inside sensitive areas of your home.  Helpers come and go inside my room and my home office so it was hard to pin point who could have done it.  Since the incident,  I have assigned only one person inside.  I told the helper she is the only one assigned and she is the person I will hold responsible for the room.  This way she would think twice of getting anything and if another helper tries to get inside our room she would be more vigilant to watch over it.

Try to get a Maid that has been Referred by Someone you Trust.   This is not usually a guarantee but it does lessen the chances of hiring a pro thief.  One of my suspects is a referred helper who stayed with us only for a little over a week.  It is a coincidence that in her brief stay we lost money and other valuables and then she suddenly had an emergency (that didn't sound like a real emergency) and had to leave only after a week.

All new helpers must fill out a Bio Data with Photo (just take their photo).  By doing this, they know you have a record on file of them and should they do something bad you can threaten to plaster their faces in NBI and on the newspaper.

I hope these tips help you and me to have a Theft Free Household forever and ever!

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