A Hong Kong singer lodged a police complaint of alleged theft against an Indonesian domestic worker who had been working for his mother for 16 years.

Joe Cheng King-kei said the theft case came to light when he was trying to find contact information for the domestic worker’s family in Indonesia in order to inform them that she was unwell, according to a video interview on nextplus.nextmedia.com.

The worker named Tini suffered a stroke in early August and remains in hospital.

Among the domestic worker’s belongings, Cheng discovered a number of items that had been lost for years, including pieces of his and his mother’s jewelry. He also found receipts from pawnshops.

To his surprise, Chen found out it was not the first time the worker had stolen from his mother, who told him that Tini had stolen jewelry worth around HK$40,000 (US$5,103) in 2006.

Cheng’s mother said she wanted to give her domestic worker another chance, so she did not report the case to the police or mention it to her son. She claimed that the worker agreed to have HK$1,000 deducted from her monthly salary and signed an agreement to that effect.

Though the family was shocked by all of this, they decided not to report the case to the police, following the wishes of his elderly mother who had a long working relationship with Tini.

However the family did decide to terminate the worker’s contract.

The domestic worker responded by discussing the case on Indonesian social media, accusing Cheng’s family of illegally deducting money from her salary for years.

The reports caught the attention of the Consulate General of Indonesia in Hong Kong, which invited the Cheng family to help them investigate.

The Cheng family related their tale of incidents of theft, supported by pawnshop receipts, the signed agreement by the domestic worker about the salary deduction and previous contracts to prove that they had done nothing wrong.

The Consulate believed the Chengs.

Joe Cheng said they filed the case to the police only to protect themselves, adding that his mother forgave Tini and did not want to sue her.

Joe said he wanted to share the story because in Hong Kong, many elderly people have established a long and close relationship with their domestic workers.

While he appreciated workers’ efforts, he recommended that families should be alert to valuables stored at home. Any case of theft, he said, resulted not only in a loss of money but also in a loss of mutual trust among people who lived under the same roof.