x Abu Dhabi, UAESaturday 22 July 2017

Police link Dh500,000 theft to surge in fleeing maids

Police arrest an Ethiopian woman working as a maid for allegedly stealing money and jewellery worth half a million dirhams from an employer who was not her sponsor.

SHARJAH // Police have arrested an Ethiopian woman working as a maid for allegedly stealing money and jewellery worth half a million dirhams from an employer who was not her sponsor. The Arab man filed a complaint alleging the maid stole Dh390,000 (US$106,000) in cash, some gold jewellery, a mobile phone and various pieces of women's clothes and shoes. Brig Yousef al Naqbi, the head of Sharjah Police's Criminal Investigation Department, said the police learnt during questioning that the complainant was not the sponsor of the maid, and that she had been with the family for more than a month. The name she gave them was not her true name. "Only through our intelligence we managed to establish the right identity of the maid, and uncovered her in a Dubai hideout and found in her possession of Dh292,000 [and] the jewellery, but she is yet to tell us where the rest of the money is," Brig al Naqbi said. He added that she had confessed to the theft, and to running away from her original sponsor. She has been referred to Sharjah public prosecution. Brig al Naqbi said the police would continue to question the employer to determine why he used a maid who had fled her former employer and why he kept such large sums of money at home. Brig al Naqbi said there had been an increase in the employment of part-time maids in the emirate, a practice that he said was dangerous and illegal. In January, inspectors from the Sharjah Department of Naturalisation and Residency said they had found 25 maids who had fled their employers living in a one-bedroom apartment. An additional 39 women were found in other sites, according to Col Abdullah Ali Saeed bin Sahoo, the department director. Many Sharjah residents believe recruitment agencies are partly to blame for the many fleeing maids because they offer a short guarantee period. One man, a lecturer at the American University of Sharjah who asked to be identified as Hakim, said he had hired up to three maids in one year. "My wife had asked me to only bring Ethiopian maids because they were close to our African culture," Hakim said. "Every three months, the maid would run away. I was so disturbed to go through the same bureaucracy and pay more fees for a new maid." He said getting a new maid legally always cost him up to Dh20,000, including the salary deposit of Dh12,000, agents' fees and visa and air ticket repayments. ykakande@thenational.ae