Vault Manager Has the Midas Touch

May 4, 2009 ( - Workplace theft is a common problem for employers, but Teresa Tambunting has taken it to a whole new level.

For at least the past six years, Teresa Tambunting, 50, a vault manager at Jacmel Jewelry, allegedly stole 500 pounds of fine gold jewelry and raw gold – gold that she hid in 5-gallon buckets in the basement of the suburban home she shared with her husband and three children, according to the New York Daily News.

“A Virtual Mining Operation”

Queens District Attorney Brown said in a press release , “With gold trading at nearly $900 an ounce, the defendant is accused of establishing a virtual mining operation in Long Island City which siphoned off millions of dollars’ worth of the precious metal from her employer. It is alleged that this once trusted employee carried out her long term scheme by concealing jewelry and raw gold in the lining of her pocketbook. Our investigation is continuing in an effort to determine the extent of her employer’s loss.”

According to the report, the theft began to unravel in January, when the company audited its Long Island City headquarters vault – and discovered $12 million in inventory missing. They had grown suspicious that their losses were more than the normal 3% annual rate, law enforcement sources said.

When Tambunting got wind of the audit, she apparently decided to come clean – arriving at work dragging rolling luggage bags filled with some of her ill-gotten gains. The bags were so heavy she needed help from the garage employees to get it into the building, according to the report, citing a law enforcement source.

Tambunting has admitted slashing a hole into the lining of her handbag and slipping the jewelry inside, prosecutors said. She’s been fired following her admission – and is expected to argue through her lawyer that she has a form of obsessive compulsive disorder, according to the Daily News.

Tambunting had worked for Jacmel for 27 years and worked her way up to a salary of $165,000 a year, law enforcement sources said. She became a vault manager in 1991.

Tambunting, who was released on $100,000 bail and ordered to return to court on May 19, 2009, faces up to 25 years in prison if convicted.