Filipina Helper Loses Job, Fined For Stealing From Employer

A Filipina domestic worker who worked in Hong Kong for just three months now faces immediate deportation, fined and losing her job in the process — all because she stole cash from her employer, a report by The SUN said.

Joyce Atonen, 37, on October 16 pleaded guilty in Kowloon City Court to two charges of stealing a total of HK$350 (P2,416) from her employer.

The mother of five could not stop sobbing when she appeared before Magistrate Vivian Wong after police had completed their investigation. She allegedly stole HK$200 and HK$150 on separate occasions from a drawer inside her employer’s bedroom in an apartment unit at Bright View Court, Argyle St., Kowloon City.

The female employer, surnamed Chan, reportedly placed HK$1,000 cash in the drawer sometime in September. But when Chan checked the money later, she noticed that HK$200 was missing.

Suspecting that the defendant took the money, Chan marked the remaining cash with a small tag. The employer checked the money again on October 2 and noticed that the tag had moved and another $150 was missing.

Chan dismissed Atonen on October 3 and reported the theft to the police on Oct 8. The defendant was arrested and investigated at the Hung Hom Police Station on Sunday, October 14, and was charged with theft the next day.

The prosecution said Atonen had admitted taking the money because she needed it for her expenses, to which, in mitigation, the Filipina’s defense lawyer said the defendant is the sole breadwinner in the family and her three younger children are still going to school.

Magistrate Wong told the helper that theft was a breach of trust, a serious offense. But she noted that the amount stolen was small and a HK$1,000 fine was appropriate.

The Filipina said she had to take back her cell phone from the police so she could call a friend and seek help to raise money to pay the fine. But the magistrate said the helper must pay the fine before 5pm on Oct 16.

Danny Baldon, an officer of the assistance to nationals unit at the Philippine Consulate-General in Hong Kong, consoled Atonen by assuring her the Consulate would pay the fine so she could be released that day.