Lincoln Tan is the New Zealand Herald’s diversity, ethnic affairs and immigration senior reporter.

Cleaner caught in act now 'enemy No 1' for industry

A cleaner commits an indecent act in a customer's home as captured by the TV3 programme Target. Photo / TV3
A cleaner commits an indecent act in a customer's home as captured by the TV3 programme Target. Photo / TV3

A carpet cleaner caught on a hidden camera performing an indecent act has become "enemy number one" to his peers who claim he has given the profession a bad name.

The tradesman, who has been charged with burglary and wilfully accessing a computer, was caught in a sting on TV3's Target.

The programme shows him going through the homeowner's chest of drawers, laundry baskets and sniffing multiple pairs of a woman's underwear.

He was also seen performing an indecent act into underwear while watching porn on the client's computer before returning the underwear to the laundry basket.

The man was shown returning twice more to the computer screen until he was apparently spooked by something and got up.

The man's employer fired him immediately and said he was "disgusted and shocked at the uncouth antics".

The tradesman and the company he worked for have not been named.

Kathryn Lee, group business manager for JAE cleaners, said the incident was unfortunate "because it makes people question the industry as a whole".

Ms Lee described the cleaner's action as appalling and shocking and said her company - which has been in operation for over 46 years - had never received a complaint of such a nature.

"We feel very sorry for the firm involved, because I'm sure it's not in their code of conduct anywhere," she said.

Ms Lee said it was too early to tell if the incident had hit the company's bottom line.

John Hogg, who has been cleaning for over 20 years, said many in the trade were shocked at the hidden camera revelation and felt anger towards the cleaner.

"We've heard of cleaners doing naughty things like lazing around and overcharging, but nothing as disgusting as this," Mr Hogg said.

"Now people are looking at us cleaning professionals as thieving perverts, and he's enemy number one as far as we're concerned."

Target host Carly Flynn had said the police were called because of the "extreme nature" of the cleaner's behaviour.

Ashok Chandra, who owns and operates FCS Cleaning, said his cleaners operated in pairs to prevent misbehaviour.

"It's not possible to fall for such temptation when there's two of you," said Mr Chandra.

"What happened was just embarrassing and we cannot condone anything like that. It is really very shocking, but it's fortunate that we've got clients whom we have been dealing with for ages and know that such things will never happen with us."

The manager of Carpet Cleaning Force said he was surprised when he learned of the allegations.

"I was just surprised. I thought we've heard the worst that can happen in this job, and then this one comes along which is just beyond bad," he said.

More than 150,000 people have viewed the show through TV3's on demand internet service.

The cleaner, who has been granted name suppression, was bailed to reappear on June 6.

- NZ Herald

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