Sai Ying Pun on Hong Kong Island. Photo: Google Maps, iStock

A 49-year-old Filipina domestic worker was sentenced to four months in jail at Eastern Magistrates’ Court on Thursday for stealing a luxury watch from her former employer to repay a debt.

Defendant Liezel Lacuarta, who had worked for her former employer for four years, pleaded guilty to one count of theft after stealing a Rolex watch worth around HK$79,895 (US$10,181) from her Chinese employer, reported.

The court heard that on February 14, police intelligence officers from Western Police conducted a routine check of pawnshop reports and noticed that a Rolex watch was pawned by a domestic worker for HK$50,000 at Kwan Yick Pawnshop in Sai Ying Pun on Hong Kong Island.

Suspecting that the watch was stolen from the worker’s employer, police visited the defendant at her workplace and took a statement from the woman.

Lacuarta told the officers a friend had instructed her to pawn the watch and offered her half of the money as a reward. She was arrested after she said she complied because she needed money.

A police officer contacted Rolex and found out that the watch was sold to a man surnamed Xiong in November 2012 and traced Xiong’s residential address in Kowloon’s Hung Hom. They found out the man hired the defendant as a domestic worker from 2012 to 2016.

Xiong said he stopped hiring the defendant because his children had to go abroad for their studies. But as they had a good employer-employee relationship, he told her to keep the key so she could access his apartment freely.

Xiong told the police that he couldn’t find the watch on February 11 but he thought he had only misplaced it.

Lacuarta admitted to police during a second interview recorded on video on March 20 that she stole the watch on February 10 and pawned it for HK$50,000 to repay a HK$47,000 debt.

The defendant’s lawyer asked for leniency but Magistrate Peter Law said the case was a breach of trust and the value of the stolen watch was not small.

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