A cleaner who stole $87,000 worth of jewellery from well-heeled clients in some of Auckland's wealthiest suburbs has been sentenced to eight months home detention.
Silvia Farcas narrowly avoided jail time when she was sentenced in Auckland District Court this afternoon on six charges relating to the theft of valuable jewellery from homes in Herne Bay, St Mary's Bay and Remuera.
She has also been ordered to pay a total of $7750 in emotional harm reparation, to be paid in instalments of $500 per month.
Judge David Sharp told the court while he took into consideration Farcas' lack of previous offending, her stressful financial situation and what he believed was her genuine remorse and shame, he still had to consider the emotional harm she had caused her victims.
The people she cleaned for had trusted her in their homes, he said, and she had betrayed that trust.
"This is serious dishonesty offending."
Many of the items stolen, which included one woman's heirloom jewellery and another's wedding rings, were irreplaceable due to the sentimental value attached to them.
Farcas, who is now a sickness beneficiary, stole from four homes she cleaned over a period of six months from December 2014. She then pawned off the items for money.
She pleaded guilty to two counts of dishonestly using a document - an EzyCash sales agreement - and four of theft of property.
Among her ill-gotten gains were a $19,000 gold diamond bracelet, a women's Cartier watch and an 18 carat diamond ring.
The most she stole from one home, an apartment belonging to a Remuera retiree and her husband, was $40,000.
"Your offending was calculated, it was spread over a period of time," Judge Sharp said during sentencing.
He accepted Farcas had been under financial pressure to support her husband and two sons but said this did not lessen her offending.
Both Sharp and Crown lawyer Brett Tantrum accepted that due to Farcas' current position as a beneficiary it was unrealistic to expect her to pay the full value of the jewellery back.
Farcas had said she was willing to attend restorative justice sessions with her victims, but they all declined.
The Remuera victim said despite feeling a sense of betrayal, she didn't hold a grudge against her former cleaner.
"She stole so much from so many people but you'd never have picked it. I trusted her," the woman told the Herald.
"She must have gone through [the apartment] with a toothpick, it was incredible the things she took in the end. I've put it behind me, I don't wish her any badness."
Another woman, who lives in Herne Bay, said a friend had recommended the cleaner, and several of her victims in the area knew one another.
She had $3000 worth of jewellery stolen, including family heirlooms, and the friend who recommended Farcas had her wedding rings stolen.
"It's so heartless," the woman said.
"She stole all my grandmother's heirloom jewellery and I can never get that back. That was handed down to me when she passed away."
The woman said it wasn't until she returned from a month-long holiday in Europe - about six months after Farcas started working for her - that her suspicions were confirmed.
"When I got back I noticed, I'd hidden quite a large sum of money and I went to retrieve it and it was gone."
The woman said she felt violated knowing Farcas had rummaged deep into her belongings to find precious items she had hidden away.
"She's really gone through stuff, it's not like it was out on display."
The woman said the emotional harm reparation she would receive wouldn't come close to matching the value of what she'd lost, but said she was pleased Farcas had been sentenced with some sort of punishment.
"The worst part about it is she's a really good cleaner.
"I haven't been able to find anyone who's as good as her - but I paid a pretty hefty price for such a good cleaner."