Questionable Nanny Ethics-Samuel's Nanny in LA

Received Thursday, March 18, 2010
112009 sad face
A few weeks ago, my kids and I were at Aidan's place and after I put them in the car, I forgot one of our bags of toys (that also had a pair of shoes in it). I sent my husband to look for the bag 2 hours later, but someone had already taken it. Today (3.17.10), my older son and I were at Irving Schacter Park and a little boy named Samuel was playing with our toys (all clearly marked with my kids' initials) and even had our bag. I spoke to his nanny and she said that she had the shoes in the car, but refused to get them. Samuel was very upset and kept saying the toys were his and that his nanny had given them to him.

The nanny seemed upset that I would take the toys back since Samuel was upset and I simply advised her not to steal other people's toys. She argued that it wasn't theft because the bag was in the parking lot and because she brought them to another park "knowing" she'd find the owner. I never knew theft was dependent on location. I said that if she wanted to find the owner she would have left the bag where it was or would have posted a note. I asked her if the toys belonged to her. If not, when she took them, that's the definition of stealing.

The nanny was probably in her late 40s and says she's worked for Samuel's family for years. Samuel looked about 3 or 4. If anyone knows Samuel's parents, they might want to know their nanny's ethics are questionable at best. And I'd love my son's shoes!


TC said...

that's bizarre.

I hope you get your son's shoes back

sounds fishy said...

I think that is really bizarre. Something about this story seems to be missing. I don't really get what happened. Why would the nanny admit she had the shoes in the car but refuse to get them? Did she not believe you when you said you were the owner?

Were you a bitch to her? Maybe you sounded threatening or rude to her which is why she was upset? You accused her of stealing? I don't know, it just sounds fishy to me, that's all.

As a side note, if you are irresponsible enough to forget your bag, you sort of deserve to have it stolen. Don't be naive.

Eugene said...

I pity Samuel in this case as his nanny is an important part of his development and values learned at an early age will stay with him until he's grown up. Quite obvious who's at fault here.

Theft? said...

I don't think that would even qualify as stealing. Maybe if the bag was left indoors in some play area or sitting by the sandbox where children are playing at the park. But she says the bag was left outside in a parking lot. For at least two hours. Perhaps the nanny saw the bag when she arrived at the playground and when she left the bag was still there. Maybe she figured since it had been sitting there a while, no one was going to claim it. If she didn't pick it up, someone else probably would have. OP says, "I never knew theft was dependent on location." But is it really theft is the item has been forgotten? Left behind? I'm guessing there is not a lost and found to turn things into at the park. If you leave a bag in a parking lot for two hours, don't consider it stolen when it's gone. Chalk it up to bad luck and try to be more aware of your belongings the next time.

snarkynanny said...

That is theft. Plain and simple. It doesn't matter where they were left or how long they were there... taking someone else's things is stealing.

I think it is so weird that the nanny refused to give them back. Something is off.

Phoenix said...

Sorry, I would give her charge are really rude awakening about stealing. I would have just taken all of them back. Yup ripped them right out of their hands. I HATE stealing.

My little sister used to go to school with someone who would steal from her. I can't tolerate it one bit. If it doesnt' belong to you then give it back. I would have made a scene so the cops were called them when they asked who's initials were on the toys and they happend to be my kids...she will look really dumb.

And you are not allowed to hold property that isn't yours. Call the cops and say that she is witholding your property in her car.

mac said...

To Theft?

Ehm, even if the bag was left out for hours and hours, I would never have taken it and if you choose to take it, you should give it back if the owner claims it.

The toys do not belong to the child so the nanny should have returned it, period.

A nanny.

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Village said...

Assuming you got the toys back, you should have called the police when she wouldn't return the shoes.

nyc mom said...

I agree with "sounds fishy" and "Theft?".

I don't think the initial picking up the abandoned bag of toys was stealing. No police officer is interested in trying to find the owner of a bag of park toys, and I think it would be silly to report this kind of found item to the police. I perceive abandoned property as reasonable to be claimed by whoever finds it provided it is not of significant value. For example, if I found a $100 bill, I would turn it in. If I found a $1 bill, I would not. I would look around and if anyone were nearby I would ask if it belonged to them, but if no one said yes and no one showed up looking for the toys/money for two hours, I would consider them lost/abandoned. I still would absolutely return it to the owner if found, but would not think of it as stealing otherwise.
However, when approached by the owner, the Nanny should immediately relinquish the toys and, of course, get the shoes for OP.

I think what might be missing in this story is OP's attitude during the interaction. OP, how did you approach the nanny initially? I might be pretty annoyed to if you "simply advised (me) not to steal other people's toys." Of course they are your toys, but if you accused her of stealing from the get go, I can see her having a negative reaction. If I were OP, i would have kindly approached the nanny, calmly explained that they were our toys we left my mistake. I would also ask if she would give them back (rather than demand), and be thankful when she did (rather than entitled).

I suspect the nanny's side of this story would clarify things a great deal.

Jane Doe said...


Theft? said...

Thanks, nyc mom. You put what I was trying to say into words much better than I did.

Park toys said...

I wish LA parks were like the ones in DC-people donate toys and everyone shares (the toys stay at the park). No need to bring your own! It is a great system and I wish more parks would adopt this idea.

Lola said...

Okay, so I DID once find a 100 dollar bill in a park. It was early in the morning, I was walking my dog, it was wet with dew, and no one was around. So I posted signs up. "Anyone lose a 100 dollar bill?" Haha, yeah right! Of course I didn't, that's silly. I pocketed it and took my family out for dinner that night. Finders keepers, losers weepers.

not sure said...

nyc mom- nicely said. I would also add that Samuel was clearly playing with the toys. Did OP demand that the toys be returned immediately? That's unfair to the little boy, who thinks the toys actually are his.

Anonymous said...

I think maybe you’ve lost sight of the real issue. Here are the facts: 1) you ABANDONED your child’s belongings 2) therefore the finder becomes the rightful owner 3) when the new owner finds you, it is only right to return Sam’s stuff 4) they are not obligated to do so 5) SO… your approach should be one of humility and kindness.

BUT HERE IS WHAT YOU’RE REALLY MISSING: The example you show Samuel is far more valuable than the toys and shoes. Calm yourself and ask, “did I really handle this correctly?” If so, then the nanny must be a psycho and you should show Sam how to deal with that properly. If not, then it should be a learning experience for you; do not trade what is less valuable and will pass (toys and shoes) for what is far more valuable (Sam’s training and life skills). Realize that how valuable it is to teach Samuel things like responsibility (if you lose it, it’s lost, so be careful) and the fact that the whole world is not obligated to look after him (so when they find his abandoned stuff, they do have a choice of returning it or not) and that he needs to have grace and humility. The fact that you posted this rant where it could do no good and only makes you feel vindicated, indicates that you probably did not go about any of this the way you should have, but we don’t know. For Sam’s sake, take some time to think this over and learn for the future; both yours and his.

The bottom line here is that no theft took place. It sounds like you just got frustrated at your own mistake and it probably caused you to approach the lady the wrong way. You’re forgiven, now get over it. Forgive the other lady and admit to Sam that you acted poorly (if you did).

MissMannah said...

I'd have to agree with Lola: finder's keepers loser's weepers. People lose things all the time, we don't pitch a fit when we can't find it. We just assume someone else has taken it and we go replace it. However, if I were the OP and saw Samuel playing with my kids' toys, I would point it out to his nanny. But I would be so embarrassed at the same time and would not "demand" the toys or shoes back.

cali mom said...

To me, "finders keepers, losers weepers" is only an acceptable answer as long as the loser does not walk straight up to the finder and say "oh, that's actually mine, I lost it at X place on X day last weeek, see it has my initials on it, can I have it back?"

Yes, people make mistakes and leave things behind, especially people with multiple babies and small children who have to carry a lot of stuff on every outing. It does not automatically entitle anyone to claim it and keep it and say "tough shit" if the actual owner politely asks for it back and demonstrates ownerhip. Sure, you *could* take a $50 out of a blind guy's wallet because he made the mistake of asking you to pull out a $5 for him to buy a subway ticket with, but that doesn't make you not an asshole if you do.

However, it would be rude and unreasonable to accuse someone of stealing right off the bat if you saw them with something you had lost. But this post doesn't say that's what happens and my take is the OP got upset only AFTER the nanny got nasty about refusing to give her back the items she identified as hers. The nanny has questionable ethics, yes.

TC said...

Wow after reading some of these comments I now understand why our country has gone to shit, why big executives can steal from people, why people like Madoff do things like they do.

Just to refresh some of you people's memories this is the definition of stealing: In criminal law, theft is the illegal taking of another person's property without that person's freely-given consent.

Did the op give the nanny consent to take the toys? NO so the nanny stole toys that didn't belong to her.

The other day I was walking to my car and saw someone's brief case, along with their laptop in the parking lost and watched them drive off....according to you guys I could've taken her stuff but instead I ran after her car and knocked on her window and told her she left her things. Because *gasp* it was the right thing to do. Taking toys that are clearly not yours is NOT the right thing to do and I am in disbelief at the people on here that think there is nothing wrong with what the nanny did.

I fell sorry for my children's generation if this is how they are being brought up

Theft? said...

TC- first of all, a briefcase and a laptop have a value that is considerably higher than a bag of toys. Second, you saw the owner of the property and were able to stop them. According to you, it is never acceptable to pick up items that are forgotten/abandoned. So what should we do? Let them sit there for years until they finally rot away?

TC said...

Theft did the op not state she went back to look for the toys? So how would they have sat there until they rotted?

TC said...

Oh and theft isn't dependent on the value of an item. Is it ok for me to take a piece of candy from the store because it's value is considerable less than a DVD? or a TV?

??? said...


you would make a horrible lawyer. you would be the type of lawyer who wastes the court's time and money on trivial issues just to make your stupid point and help your deranged client.

as most above posters have gleaned, there is something missing to this story. We can see that clearly in the strategically absent elements, that if given to us honestly and freely, would have made OP's story believable.

OP was irresponsible enough to leave her bag behind. She should have just learned a lesson instead of flipping out on a poor nanny at the park.

The country has gone to shit? Count yourself lucky to live here. I can't stand people who complain about the state of our country when in other countries they have it so much worse when it comes to their values and belief structures and lack of freedom. Here in America you are allowed to spew your ignorance freely, T.C. If you don't like it, get the hell out.

TC said...

??? ohh because I don't believe what you believe I must leave? I must leave the country that my grandfather's both fought for, that my cousins are fighting for now? LOL see that's what I love about this country, I can say what I want just as well as you can and just because I don't agree with you doesn't mean I have to leave.

And sweetheart I never even pretended to be a lawyer, that's not my chosen profession. You can go ahead and get off your high horse now

?? said...

T.C.: you are the one who was complaining about the country. No, you don't have to leave. But you should if you don't like it. You would soon learn, if you did, how good we have it.

Nobody cares about "both your Grandfather's(sic)."

You wrote: "I can say what I want just as well as you can..." there an echo in here? Because that is what I just told you.

I am aware that you "never pretended to be a lawyer." I just said you would make a shitty one. A smarmy one. That's all.

TC said...

???? youre just an asshole and it's people like you that are destroying our country, now I'm done with this conversation with you..begone troll

?? said...

lol T.C. so it's the people who don't kiss your ass and who disagree with you are destroying the country now? lol
wow. you're even less articulate than I originally thought you were.

A troll? I am far from a troll, "sweetheart."

Rachel said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Theft? said...

TC- I am fully aware, in this scenario, the owner of the bag went back to look for it. My point was, what if she hadn't? What if she didn't realize she left it or didn't remember where she left it? According to you, no one should touch the bag until it is claimed by its rightful owner. So if no one comes to claim it, what happens then? Unless there is a parking lot attendant (which I highly doubt) no one had any way of knowing how long the bag had been sitting there.
Also, in reply to your candy example, candy belongs in the store until someone buys it. Random bags of toys do not belong in parking lots. They are there because they are left/forgotten/abandoned.

NannyinNY said...

I don't know that finding an abandoned bag in a parking lot would really be considered stealing. If the nanny took those toys back to the same park, she probably had to consider that the owner of said bag might come back to claim it. I can say if I found an abandoned bag of toys, I would bring them back to the park, thinking someone might come along and paly with them, but I see no harm in letting the other little boy plahy with them in the interim. Perhaps the OP was not as "tactful" as she could have been when she approached the nanny about the toys. Yes, absolutely,the toys should be returned to the owner, but if someone had approached me like that, I would have been pretty upset too. OP should have been a little more grateful that se ever even saw those toys again.

cali mom said...

I'm with TC on this one. You can only cop the excuse that something was "abandoned" until the rightful owner comes up to you and asks for it back. At that point if you refuse to return it, you're an asshole and are knowingly stealing. Just because ?? does it all the time doesn't make it ok, kiddies, but apparently her children are being brought up to think it is.