Friday, January 11, 2013

Domestic Crime: Dugu Dugu Gang or plain inside job robbery?

I know I haven't blogged for two days, to me it really felt like a year. Not that I'm bored nor was I overly busy at work. In fact, today was my last day at Summit Media and I said goodbye to my cube, my colleagues and to my magazine life without a single tear (okay fine, so I tried my darnest to keep it back when a number of junior publishers bid me goodbye in unison). Well, I'll still be back at the office to finish my clearance so they'll still see me around.

I stopped blogging because of a very traumatic happening. I initially didn't want to talk about it but after fellow blogger Ro texted me and told me that her helper got the exact same call I immediately replied back and told her to be careful. I felt that everyone should know what happened to take caution.

Last Wednesday, January 9 (Feast of the Nazarene), someone called our house at 10AM looking for me. Here was how her conversation went:

Caller: Hello, nandyan si Fran?
Helper: Ay wala po si Ate Fran, nasa office. (tip: please remind your helpers NEVER to give information of your whereabouts)
Caller: (after a few seconds) Ako si Cherry, secretary nya. Andidito si Fran naaksidente hindi makapagsalita. 

She went on to give instructions asking the helper to go up to our room, to open our cabinets and to get our valuables. Helper told the caller that Paul was still in the room and the caller strictly instructed her NOT to tell ANYONE as "Fran didn't want her family to be scandalized." I really can't believe the helper fell for that. So helper waited for Paul to leave the house at 1130AM. In between the 1st call, "Cherry" called twice asking if Paul was still there and our other helper could her helper #1 telling them "andidito pa po si kuya Paul pero aalis na yan maya maya". From this point on, she also gave the caller a cellphone number for them to be able to communicate with ease.

Finally, Paul left at exactly 1130AM and as the car left the house, she immediately went up to our room. Helper #2, sensing something was really wrong, followed her and asked what she's doing. Note that both my dad and sister were also at home at that time and she didn't bother to tell them about this. She pushed helper #2 out of the room and locked the door. There she forced open Paul's cabinet (boy, was she strong!) and got all his cash and watches. She went to mine and got my jewelries and even a few dollar bills that I was collecting. She also got two empty wallets and my empty passport holder. What made it all freaky was she did all those in 30 minutes and she got the right things. Seriously, if I was really in an accident wouldn't have she just gotten the cash and ran away with it? All throughout this time, she was also on the phone with the caller. She even have managed to tidy the room up before leaving.

This helper was the "mayordoma" type who has been bullying the newer ones. She didn't bother to give them any information and all she kept on saying was "inutusan ako ni ate Fran".

Halfway through her "packing", Papa came down and looked for her. She was our house cook so he asked her if lunch was ready. She quickly came out of my room which also surprised my Dad and told him it'll be ready in a few minutes. After Papa went up again, she continued to pack all cash in a white envelope and packaging tape. She made used of a black tote bag inside a sling bag and inside the bag she lined it with a thick towel before putting all items in. She even acted like she was sweeping the floor while my Dad was still outside the room.

She left in haste and while helper #2 was following her to the gate asking questions, she snapped at helper #2 and told her not to follow. As she got out of the gate, helper #2 heard her saying 'andidito na po ako'.

I was at the office the entire time this happened and it was around 1PM when I got a call from my Mom. Mommy was frantic and asked me if I left any valuable items in my cabinet. I really couldn't remember but had there been any, I was pretty sure it wasn't much. She then told me that our helper went out and brought some things from my cabinet. I was calm then as I knew Paul's cabinet was lock.

As we were on our way home, Paul was very restless already and asked me to call my sister to check. As I called home, I asked Pan to check if Paul's cabinet was locked. She told me it wasn't and there was no cash inside. That made me cry so hard as I knew we lost a big amount of money. Our 15 minute ride from my office to home felt like it was the longest ride of our lives.

We got home and true enough saw that she broke Paul's cabinet and stole all the valuables mentioned above. The weird thing was she called our driver upon reaching Gil Puyat Station (as she claims) and asked the driver if we got into an accident. The driver, sensing something was wrong called my mom's attention. She told my Mom what happened and she had all our valuables with us but refused to enumerate which ones. Mom instructed her to head to Unimart to meet her there.

At 3PM, Mom got home with the helper and true enough she had the bag with her. Wanting to get to the bottom of the story, we brought her to the San Juan Police Station for them to do further investigation. The initial story was that she was a victim of the Dugu Dugu or Budol Budol gang where someone would call the house and say the owner/amo got into an accident and will ask the helper to get cash/jewelry and to meet them somewhere. Maricel (yes, that's the name of our helper) has been very trust-worthy. She has been with us for more than a year and was someone who has been very pleasant and helpful. She was quite smart too making it easier for us to give her instructions.

As we listened to her recount the incident over and over again, we noticed some things. First off, she wasn't nervous at all. No sign of fidgeting or crying. When she got home from Unimart, she even smiled and greeted the other helpers and my in laws who were in our house at that time. She remembered every single detail down to the color of the envelope, the plastic that was found in the cabinet and even how she supposedly opened the drawer. The police investigator told us that for someone who was truly victimized by the dugu dugu gang, he/she wouldn't remember this much as his/her memory would be hazy. We agreed to terminate her and had to wait for one of her family members to come and get her. We left her at the police station to go home, rest and to have dinner. When Paul and my Mom went back to do the turnover, she was already smiling and laughing. Not the right reaction for an innocent person who was victimized. The police all felt she was guilty and even told us that we can actually put her in jail.

We have been nice to her up until we simply decided to just let her go. As she came back to the house that evening to get her things, she was saying things like she will probably go back to the province as Manila life is not for her.

The moment she left the house, Mommy's secretary, who accompanied the relative and the person who referred her to us, heard her asking them not to tell people about this incident for her to easily be able to find another job here in Manila. That change in statement happened in the span of 5-10 minutes only.

We initially thought she must have been victimized but we wondered how come the caller knows every single detail and content of our drawers. The police all things it was an inside job and coincidentally her tasks includes cleaning our room too. She has been with us for more than a year, enough time for her to guess what was inside and to study our daily routine too. At the moment, I'm just so thankful that she returned the items must have been due to some divine intervention.

I've been recounting this story over and over again to friends, relatives and colleagues. Every time, I can imagine what exactly happened so vividly. I still have a hard time sleeping at night for fear that this might happen again. I guess it will take time but for now, my entire family is taking all the necessary safety steps to strengthen the security here at home. Once again, we can never be too trusting.

Just for everyone to know, Maricel Mahusay is from Capootan, Leyte. She around 25-26 years old and one distinguishing mark about her is that her right eye is blind and won't open. She's also fair-skinned with kinky hair. 

When hiring household helpers, I recommend that you take their photos, get their NBI/Police Clearance and do a thorough background check.

Let's all be careful, dear readers.


  1. What a scary story, Fran. I can feel the agitation while you're recounting and writing about what happened.

    Thank goodness your belongings were returned and no one got hurt.

    We have our own horror stories too of sneaky helpers. It's sad that you can't trust anyone anymore, even after how nicely you treated them.

  2. Thank you for the very helpful yet sad article Miss Fran. Good thing your belongings had been return and no one was hurt with the incident.

  3. omg! i'm so sorry this happen to you fran. but its good to know that your family is safe. these days you'll never know, it could have been worse.

  4. ouch naman. :( The way you described her (physically) I doubt her innocence kuno. anyway, good thing that everything were returned. I agree, better asks for identification reference especially if di nio tlga kilala kung sino ung helper na un or apply apply lang ganun. haest.

  5. I don't blame you for being traumatized but that will help you to be more vigilant. Again, I'm just relieved nobody got hurt. Take care, Fran.

  6. Grabe! hindi ko siguro ma imagine kung sa kin nangyari yun. Mabuti naman po at walang nangyaring masama sa inyo at mabuti rin na naagapan siya. Sa kwento nyo po, sa tingin ko kasabwat nga yung katulong nyo at sana mabulok na siya sa bilanguan..

  7. inside job marami ng na balitang ganyan..

  8. maam dapat po may security na rin kayo sa bahay nyo kasi po pwede kayong balikan nyan at dahil kabisado n nya ang house nyo..

  9. I'm so sorry to hear about this, ate Fran. But at the same time, I'm glad you got your valuables back. We can't trust people easily na talaga.

    Anyway, nothing like this happened to us yet. Thankfully. But just last year, we had a new helper who seemed so suspicious. She wasn't really doing a lot of chores, and mukhang she's observing our routine. She asked our other helpers and even the guard pa more info about our family. We were quite scared that she might be part of a gang or something so she was terminated right away.

  10. Hi Fran

    Whenever I hire a helper, I always ask for some ID. If they don't have any, I let them fill out a bio data and take their photos. I also don't let my helper answer our telephone. If the call is really important, the caller can always call on our celfone.

    I am glad that she was able to return all your valuables and that nobody was hurt in the incident.


  11. Gosh, that was a very disturbing experience. I'm glad you got everything back. Thanks for sharing. This will be a big help for us. We should be extra careful of our things! We worked hard for them. Take careM

  12. sad to hear this story but good thing nothing was taken and nobody was hurt. I remember my mom telling us the same story before.. now, she makes sure that our helpers know about this story too and reminds them to never fall for this modus.

    Wishing you and your family safety and recovery from this incident.

  13. Stuff like this drives people paranoid (people like me :P) but better paranoid than victimized. Our helps know not to let strangers inside the house. One time, a man let himself through our gate and our help then, also named Maricel, saw him walking around our compound. She immediately approached him and asked what he's doing there. The man started saying he's some kind of long lost relation or family friend or whatnot, and even started dropping the names of my dad's siblings. Maricel has been with us for ages, and is quite familiar with our immediate relatives. She knows she has never seen that person in any family function, and noticed that the person was kind of fishing for more information as he was inquiring about our family. Since Maricel was alone, she tried to extend the conversation until my dad returned (short trip from the grocer). She didn't let the guy out of her sight or in the house. We still dont know who the guy is, but I'm glad he's gone.

  14. Glad you got your stuff back and everything ended ok :)

  15. Oh my! I'm sorry that happened. That same incident happened to my aunt and the mayordoma was also the one who answered the phone but my aunt came home just in time. Yes I agree that you should never be too trusting. Good thing no one got hurt.

  16. This is scary! Our helper got a similar call saying my sister got into an accident, that she ran over a litter kid who's now in the hospital. Supposedly, my sister was in the police station too shaken up to talk. The caller knew details about our life too... he knew where my sister's money is hidden...

    Good thing I was home at that time and immediately called my sister to confirm her whereabouts.

    There are a lot of bad people out there!

  17. Hi fran! This same thing happened to my brother. His househelp has been with him for several years already. We were also surprised becaused the caller knew where his money was or maybe they just guessed where to ask the househelp to look for money. Same thing, they called thru the landline then gave a cellphone number. She said that they let her talk to my kuya but since he was in a hospital he cannot talk well, she said he sounded like my brother that is why she moved quickly. She found the 7,000 US dollars hidden inside the cabinet and gave it to them in a mall. Since she was in a hurry she did not bother to call our house to confirm.... But after all of these, they reported it to the police but there was so much remorse from her. She was really crying and begging and was in a daze that it all happened. We know that she was innocent. And up until now she still receives some calls doing the same tactics...

  18. Hi Ms. Fran,

    As I was searching the net, I came across with your website and got curious of this particular article. Its good that you and the family didnt fall to this scam usually perpetrated by robbery syndicates who tag maids as their accomplices. A lot of these cases havent been reported because some cant accept that they got fooled by the old scam.
    Im a mother and blogger as well. But my website ( talks about new modus operandi perpetrated by lawless elements and of course home safety tips for each new modus. So as this incident will never happen again to you, your family and household, I suggest that you keep abreast with latest robbery schemes (which my website feature 2x a month). I want every mothers to be happy and always at peace thats why I came up with this blogsite. My advocacy is to keep everyone safe by keeping informed all the time.

    ms Fran I will include your blogsite in my favorites. I love reading your site. It keeps me informed as well. More power to you, your family and


    Mye Jimenez


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