Should I confront my housekeeper about suspected theft?
January 19, 2010 10:22 AM Subscribe
Should we confront our housekeeper who we are 99.99% sure stole from us (though the evidence is purely circumstantial), or should we just let him and the whole situation go?
posted by anonymous to Human Relations (46 answers total)
We've had a housecleaner working for us for over two years. He is not a legal U.S. resident and has been working with a lawyer to obtain permanent, legal residence here. Let's call the housecleaner "John." We really like John and have had a good, even friendly relationship with him--we've gone to movies together, had lunch, etc.
Through us and our personal assistant (our PA, let's call her "Sally"), John got additional cleaning gigs with a few of Sally's other clients. John also cleans for our nanny.
About three weeks ago we discovered John stole about $4,000 worth of clothing and shoes from us. How we discovered it all at once is a little tedious and complex, but the important part is that upon discovering the entirety of what was missing we quickly grew really, really (like I said, 99.99%) sure that John had to be the one who took the stuff.
We told Sally and the nanny right away. The nanny quickly connected the dots and now believes that John stole from him as well-- about $1,000 worth of store gift cards (wedding presents) which he had previously thought he misplaced (and of course, had been beating himself up about). Sally, the PA, also connected the dots for her other clients who also have John in to clean. She now believes that various missing items (shoes, some cash) from the homes of two of her other clients were actually stolen by John as well.
So, no concrete evidence. But as soon as I was sure there could be no other way in which our stuff went missing, I let John go. I wrote him a letter stating simply that it was "with sadness I no longer needed his services." We and Sally and the nanny have been turning over and over what we feel is a real dilemma: whether or not to confront John, and further, whether or not to go to the police.
We don't want to go the the police. Since John is not a legal resident, going to the police presents a much larger threat for him than merely being suspected of/formally accused of property theft. We all agree that jeopardizing John's ability to stay here is not what we want to do. So, I guess we know we don't want to go to the police. The potential punishments down that avenue seem to exceed the crime.
I've fired him. Sally let him go on behalf of her other clients in a phone conversation wherein she told him that all of these missing items and all the circumstances made it such that she couldn't trust him in the clients' homes. John was emotional on the call, said he understood but that he didn't take the missing items and that he had "no proof" that he didn't, but that he didn't.
Now the nanny is contemplating a letter telling John he suspects John took the gift cards and offering him a chance to come clean.
So, should I confront John? And if so, how? Any other thoughts, other ideas?
One more thing about my reluctance to confront him: for most of the time he worked for us, there was never anything missing--at least nothing I noticed. He seemed honest and terrific. We paid him well, and he was here every week. I think he needed a lot of money fast in order to help his family back home. I think he grew pretty desperate. And since he was desperate enough to steal and to do so quite blatantly-- with big-ticket items, and in rapid-fire just before the holidays-- it almost seems like on some level John "wanted" to be caught...like he was almost asking for it to happen. This makes me think he might be pretty unstable. And that could be scary. What do you think?