Cleaning ladies are stealing drugs. Great.

Pretty much what the title says. My wife called me and said that her mother left her Norco in her drawer before the cleaning ladies came over today, counting them beforehand. There were 44 pills in the bottle before they came; there are 38 now.

So. Anyone had to deal with this before? Clearly, they won’t be cleaning our house anymore, but I’m not keen to get the police involved. And now we have to find new cleaning people. Any advice on where to start looking?

Someone wrote in to Slate’s Dear Prudence advice column with this problem a few months ago. You might try to look that up.

Housekeepers are people you pay to steal from you. Is there a problem here?

Has any other person been in the house during that time, besides the cleaning ladies? I think that’s important to know.

I’m not saying it’s the case here, but the drug thieves you’d ‘never suspect’ are pretty sneaky. If they know you have an obvious suspect on the premise, cleaning staff, an ex addict, a known user, an unliked and suspect teenage boyfriend, etc, they see an opportunity to snatch what they want. Knowing full well you’re preset to suspect someone else, also on the premise.

Obviously, if the cleaning crew are the only ones that have been in, then it’s pretty clear.

At a minimum, I would let the company know why you are terminating the service, but I would be really sure it couldn’t have been someone else before I said anything.

REALLY sure. Like, “No one else was in the house” type of sure, not “Only trusted people were also in the house”.

I ask this question delicately but how old is your MIL? What is the status of her cognitive health and memory? Is there any possibility that no one stole her medication and she just forgot how many she had taken? It doesnt appear that that is the case but I feel like its prudent to ask the question.

My parents had their furnace replaced a couple years ago. In the middle of the job, my sister noticed that the guy was in a drawer in the kitchen and she could hear him in the upstairs bathroom. From what I recall, he said he was “checking the pipes”. She called my dad and asked him, he said there’s no ‘pipes’ to be checked. There is a t-stat on the second floor, but it’s not in the bathroom…or the other bathroom…or the linen closet…or the kitchen drawer.
My dad runs home and upon looking around finds three bottles of vicoden, all empty.
He confronts the guy and tells him to leave, as well as calls the company he works for and tells them what’s going on. A supervisor came out, they talked about it (my dad and the supervisor) and the supervisor basically said that there’s nothing he can do about it (even if the guy had pills on him, there’s no proof that they came from the house) and my dad’s best option was to call the police.
Knowing/assuming nothing would happen if he did that, he had to let it go, but made it clear that the job still needs to be finished and it has to be a different person.

Yeah, it’s a little bit different, but that’s what happened.

In your situation, if you are 100% sure it was the cleaning person, yeah get a new one. Even if you call the company and tell them you want a new person because the other appears to have been stealing meds. Your other option is to either put a camera where the drugs are or have your wife count the pills right before and right after they are there (letting the same person clean the house again) and see what happens.

I’m suspecting your wife or mother felt that it had already been happening or they wouldn’t have counted them to begin with.

Well, that’s certainly untrue. I usually have a housekeeper and she does a great deal of work around my house.

In my case, all stories from MIL are bullshit designed to create drama and garner attention. Really quite tedious.

As a person who cleaned for a living for years, fire that service/person or you’ll never know they won’t be in your house again. Tell them why. There will be conflict and it will be awkward, but tell them the whole truth.
While it’s not the majority of them, there are absolutely house cleaners who steal; I was hired after a couple of them and had to earn back my client’s trust in cleaners. One had stolen an expensive camera rig unaware the film inside contained irreplaceable photos of the client’s recently deceased husband. None of it was ever recovered. :frowning:

Have you heard of NextDoor? It’s a social media site for people who live in your vicinity. It’s a good site to ask for recommendations such as housecleaners, painters, plumbers, etc, as well as to communicate things such as road closures or lost pets.

If it’s not available, I’d ask neighbors and friends who live in her area for a recommendation.

And, of course, I’d start hiding her valuables, including her jewelry and medication, or even locking it into a safe.

I put out “loss leaders” when using a new, untrusted service. This applies whether it’s lawn, home repair, painting or cleaning. I distribute a reasonable amount of unimportant stuff about to see what gets moved, picked up, or outright disappears. I also keep security cameras on any work outside, and put out game cameras in areas they “shouldn’t” enter (the sudden flash alerts everybody, the miscreant gets a heads-up they’re being watched). I also do this in other situations using old or non working items to protect the high value stuff, but that’s for another thread I guess.

An old jewelry box, a few old medicine bottles filled with something I don’t care about, and an old toolbox or tackle box laying around outside gives a lot of information on the types of people working around your house. I’m kind of an asshole about this, but I ain’t the one that’s pilfering so they’ve abandoned the right to complain. FWIW: I hide valuables and important medicine (trust me, I’m pretty good at this) the first few times a newcomer is in or around the house. After trust is established, I stop worrying about it.

Sorry for what’s happened to the OP, but the good news is how seldom my little “traps” get sprung. Almost everyone is trustworthy.

So your MIL counted her pills, left them there, waited for the cleaning staff to come, and then counted them again, then reported coming up short.

I mean, seriously my man, think about this. It has all the hallmarks of manufactured oldlady drama.

Sorry for another post, but I wanted to mention an option that really helps with oldsters’ medicines. Have you tried pillpack? It’s a service that puts pills in sealed packets at the proper dosage, based on time of dosage. You just pull the 8am (or whichever time) pack out of the dispenser and tear open to take the pills. This way you could be certain about miscounts and missing pills. The example I saw had them in a continuous “roll” where you pulled out and tore off the next scheduled pills. The thief would be unable to get several pills without it being obvious a bunch of packs were pulled out. It might be a good deterrent.

Just an idea. I have a few friends with aging parents who’ve signed up for this service. IIRC, you can get it thru the major pharmacies (CVS, Walgreens, etc.)

I’ll update when I have more information as to when exactly she first counted the pills, but I can tell y’all this: we’ve had missing pills before, and it’s entirely possible that some were taken by someone else. Our first suspect was the nephew, who just graduated from high school, keeps getting fired from fast food-type jobs for stealing and such, and appears to be selling drugs for a living because he has had no other means of support for months.

Mother-in-law doesn’t seem likely to be daffy; she’s a retired nurse, and even though she has major back issues (had a whole lot of metal put in there about a year ago), I don’t think she’s doped beyond knowing how many pills she has. But I do need to get more info about this. Since my wife called me at work to report this, I assumed that the counting and the re-counting were things that happened today, when no one would have been in the house but her (her husband has been in the hospital for a couple of weeks, and apart from her and the cleaners the only people who have been in the house have been me, my wife, our 11-year-old, and our 6-year-old).

Thanks for the advice about NextDoor, I’ll look into it, and I’ll report back when I have more information about all this.

A co-worker had her husband, who suffered from a bit of dementia from Parkinson’s, OD’d himself by taking the same med over and over not realizing he’d already had his dose. He nearly died because of the complications of taking 3-4 times the prescribed dosages of his various meds. He’d wake up, take his meds, then later nap and wake up and take his meds again, repeat.


CALL THE POLICE. Even if it turns out to be a simple case of misplacement, what if it isn’t? There are LOTS of people who get jobs where they enter people’s houses for the express purpose of stealing drugs or other valuable.

I’ve sold a few houses over the years, and was always told to lock up values (including abusable prescription drugs) or take them with me during open houses. However, that doesn’t prevent what my last Realtor did: she used her pass key to break into houses when the occupants weren’t home, and steal drugs. :eek: In the end, she had her license revoked and was given probation on the condition that she stays clean and out of trouble, a sentence I personally thought was appropriate because she’s in her 50s and had no previous criminal record.

If you have someone close who’s sold drugs before and currently could use some money, then all bets are off regarding the cleaner.

I’ve had a sticky fingered family member display my damned holiday souvenir on her kitchen windowsill, crayzay
b atch! They’re possibly “taking a few so it’s not noticed” lock things up, stick things down, say something?