We hid a key in an electricity cupboard outside our apartment for a workman to let himself into the apartment with. When I went to retrieve the key after he finished the job, it was clearly a different key (the color was different). This made me think he or his workers copied the key. I asked him and he denied it vehemently and said that there must be some other explanation. He said that I can deduct from his pay the cost to replace the key but made the point that if I’m wrong, it’s stealing and that I shouldn’t do it unless I’m 100% sure. Of course, I can’t be 100% sure – I don’t have cctv footage – but it seems clear. What do you think? thank you
What you are saying is very correct. You can’t know 100%. Maybe something else happened and he isn’t the one who switched the key. As long as you are not 100% sure that you are taking money from him correctly, you shouldn’t take the money from him. Hashem has plenty of ways to return the money of the key to you.
As a side point, it isn’t just a matter of the cost of the key; if someone might have the key to your apartment, you would want to change the cylinder of the lock. (There is a cheap way to do it, switch cylinders with someone you trust. No one will know except the two of you, and you can switch keys with him. This is a lot cheaper.)