© Copyright 2012 Kim Giancaterino. All Rights Reserved.
Are You Seeking a Housekeeper in Altadena, Eagle Rock, Pasadena, or South Pasadena, California?
We were victimized by our former housekeeper, who continues to run a business out of her Altadena, California home.
This crook operates under the radar—she's not registered with home service rating sites like Angie's List. Nor can she be exposed with a Yelp review, as their terms of service prohibit the naming of an individual.
Law enforcement agencies in Altadena, Los Angeles, Pasadena, and South Pasadena are investigating complaints filed by several of the housekeeper's former clients. Our complaint is filed with the LAPD. My understanding is that at least nine former clients have reported losses of personal property, primarily in the form of untraceable items like cash and gold jewelry. Our losses exceeded $20,000, which qualifies as grand theft.
The LAPD detectives who subjected the housekeeper and her sometime "helper" to lengthy lie-detector tests are satisfied that both women were involved in the thefts. We were shocked to learn from detectives that our former housekeeper's helper was raising five children in an Altadena garage—she had been dropped off at our home several times in a Lexus. She also has a criminal record for assaulting another woman.
After interrogating our housekeeper and her accomplice, LAPD detectives predicted we would gradually discover other missing items. They were right. Among the missing ... DVDs, CDs, video games, and two expensive dinner jackets. A $50 Target gift card that was pinned to my stepson's bulletin board was also mysteriously defunded.
Learn from Our Mistake
If you're seeking a housekeeper in or near Altadena, Eagle Rock, Pasadena, or South Pasadena, please call the appropriate authorities to verify the background of any prospective housekeeper who is not licensed or bonded. Our former housekeeper masquerades as a harmless grandmother. She was sickeningly sweet to our faces, yet had no problem rummaging through our closets and drawers to procure valuables (now we know why she loved to use the vacuum so much!)
This heartless woman deliberately failed to disclose that her helper had been caught stealing from many of her other clients. We found out from a third party more than six months later and fired her immediately. Her response was a letter to us stating that she too was a victim of the helper's "cruel actions."
Many of the housekeeper's other clients were swayed by her helpless victim act and continue to allow this woman into their homes. They've been warned by the very police detectives who watched her miserably fail the lie-detector test. Time will tell.
So How Could This Happen?
You're probably thinking we took advantage of this poor soul. Nothing could be further from the truth. She was making more than $25 an hour when we finally wised up and let her go—and that was before we realized she was complicit in the thefts.
We treated this person with respect and kindness. When her husband became very ill, I recommended a trust attorney. Later my husband and I rushed to his hospital bed so I could notarize documents for them (at no charge). Her son hugged us and thanked us for our support. When her husband died, my stepson and I went to the mortuary and spent more than $200 on flowers for his service. Over the years I gave this woman thousands of dollars worth of handbags, clothing, and household items. We gave her time off every December with pay, and a bonus on top of that. All the while, she was smiling sweetly to our faces and robbing us behind our backs.
We Let Our Guard Down During a Time of Family Sadness
Were we sleeping at the wheel? In a sense, yes. During the time the jewelry thefts took place we suffered five family deaths, including my husband's mother. The housekeeper couldn't possibly have missed the revolving gallery of bereavement cards on our hall table, but never mentioned them. Our focus was on our family, not our things—and certainly not on things I believed were safely tucked away. The items she and her accomplice stole from us were highly personal and can never be replaced.
They got mere pennies on the dollar for our smashed up gold. One can imagine the amoral party on the receiving end of those transactions, conducted outside the confines of the law. I wonder if the housekeepers got anything at all for my investment grade diamonds and rubies—the ones my hard-working grandfather chose so carefully for his gem portfolio.
If our housekeeper truly needed money, we would have given it to her without question. Indeed, we only kept her on because we believed she depended on the income. The irony is that she was not a very good housekeeper.
Another missed clue ... we keep several casino buckets of spare change around the house.
I Fought the Law ... and the Law Won
I barely recognized our former housekeeper, also known as the defendant, when I spotted her in the courthouse lobby. She must have shopped for her ensemble at the Salvation Army's bargain rack. A severe ponytail completed the downtrodden look. This is a woman who owns two homes, drives a brand new SUV, and pockets 100% of her earnings.
She's a U.S. citizen who converses regularly in English, but you would never have guessed it from the befuddled expressions she manufactured at every turn. The court-appointed interpreter and the judge bought the act hook, line, and sinker. The defendant was treated gingerly by the court. Conversely, everyone working in the courtroom from the judge on down to the bailiff was brusque toward me, with the exception of the clerk who checked me in.
Moreover, the interpreter, who was supposed to be impartial, snapped at me in the hall and accused me of withholding evidence from the defendant. After I handed over my evidence—actually just a list of dates worked and wages paid—she informed me that the defendant wanted to read a prepared statement before we entered the courtroom. The defendant waved a pile of hand-written references under my nose and started stammering about her innocence. This was completely against the rules, so I cut her off and took a seat inside. Things went downhill from there.
My complaint was based on the fact that the housekeeper's helper was outed as a thief in the fall of 2010. I was not made aware of this fact until April 2011. Therefore, I claimed that the housekeeper had a moral responsibility to tell us about the thefts reported by her other clients, and thus owed us the money we paid her in good faith during that time.
The judge disagreed and ruled that one could not sue for work already performed. He completely missed the point. There would have been no work performed had we been told about the thefts she was blaming on her helper. He didn't even ask her why she neglected to inform us about her other eight clients who were also missing items from their homes.
Note to Self ...
Based on the judge's abrupt ruling, the court shouldn't have accepted my case in the first place. $omehow it passed their review process. They accepted my payment and a court date was set.
My case was complicated by the fact that the housekeeper herself was a thief. She was blaming the former helper, but flunked a lie-detector test and was the only one who had access to our home when several of our jewelry items went missing. By the time we learned of the thefts, the helper had not been in our home for nearly a year. We had worn some of our now missing jewelry during that time, so we know the helper didn't take it.
The judge obviously "got" that the housekeeper was guilty of stealing, but failed to grasp the essence of my argument. His ruling in the housekeeper's favor left her feeling vindicated. In fact, she later boasted to one of her clients that my case was "thrown out."
We cling to the hope that Karma will eventually deal with the two thieves who betrayed our family. Despite both of them failing lie-detector tests (our housekeeper reportedly cried like a baby), the law is steadfastly on their side.
Maid Gettin' Paid - Caught on Camera
We're glad this guy got his money back after setting up a surveillance camera. Sadly, this was not an option for us, as we fired the housekeeper before we realized she was the one doing most of the stealing. She had also been tipped off that we knew about the thefts.
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