Employee kept customer’s wallet

Jean Valerie Aguirre was working at Wendy’s on Walkers Road last 29 August when a customer turned in a wallet found on the premises.

Aguirre kept the wallet and used the credit cards in it the next day. Closed circuit television recorded her carrying out a transaction with one of the cards.

She lost her job and her work permit. Charges of theft and obtaining property by deception were filed on 10 March. Last week Aguirre was sentenced in Summary Court to pay fines totalling $1,000 and compensation of $601.51. The term in default of payment was 30 days.

Crown Counsel Alister Cumming told Magistrate Nova Hall that the incident started when a woman went into the restaurant and paid for food with cash. She did not realise when she left that she did not have her wallet.

When she could not find it, she reported the loss to banks with which she had credit cards. One of the banks advised that a card had been used on 30 August.

The owner of the wallet then reported the matter to the Financial Crimes Unit. Officers got details of the transaction, including time and place, and then obtained camera footage showing a person purchasing items with the credit card.

The person’s photo was circulated and Aguirre was identified. Officers searched her premises and found the credit cards along with the wallet, which was valued at $26.

Defence Attorney John Furniss reminded the court that Aguirre pleaded guilty the first time she came to court.

He said she had been having problems at the time because she had sent monies back to the Philippines. People were worried that a hurricane might be coming. He was referring to Hurricane Gustav, which passed east of Grand Cayman the night of 29-30 August.

Mr. Furniss said Aguirre used the credit cards to buy groceries. When approached by police, she immediately showed them the wallet, credit cards and groceries.

After losing her job, she was helped by family members because she could not leave the island. ‘She wasn’t locked up but she hasn’t been able to go anywhere or do anything,’ the attorney said. ‘I seek to suggest you can deal with the offence without a custodial sentence.’

The magistrate adjourned sentencing to consider the matter. Last week she shared her conclusion. The reality was that Aguirre, being a non-national with no ties to Cayman, was not a candidate for a suspended sentence or a community service order.

She did not agree that only a compensation order would be appropriate. By imposing fines, she was giving a sentence that would give Aguirre the option of avoiding custody.

For the theft, she handed down a fine of $500; for the charges of obtaining by deception, the collective sentence was another $500 fine and an order for compensation. All sums were to be paid that day.

Mr. Furniss later confirmed that Aguirre’s relatives had paid all monies due.