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.
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