Police ask residents who employed woman to check for missing valuables.
Longboat Key police are asking town residents to check for missing valuables after the arrest of a housekeeper on theft charges.
Police arrested Michelle Wood, 35, of Palmetto, last month and charged her with third-degree grand theft, a felony.
Wood posted a $1,500 bond. No hearing date has been set.
Wood worked as a residential cleaner for a resident of Sutton Place, one of 60 such clients she shared with her mother, who was not charged.
In December, the victim, a seasonal Sutton Place resident, contacted police and said she discovered her Prada wallet, valued at $1,000; an Ash Goldfarb ring, valued at $1,000; a leather necklace with a gold globe pendant valued at $500, and $2,000 cash were missing.
There were no signs of forced entry. The victim said she left her door unlocked on days that Wood was scheduled to clean. No one else had access to her third-floor apartment and no other contractors had been in to do work, she told police.
Detective Bob Bourque of the Longboat police said an investigation found that the wallet had been pawned at a West Palmetto pawn shop for $25. Police also found 80-plus pieces of jewelry dating back to June 2017 had been pawned by Wood.
“One of the most common crimes we have here is theft by service workers,” Bourque said.
Longboat police have placed holds on jewelry pieces believed connected to Wood at several Manatee County pawn shops. They include a cluster ring and a wedding band. Bourque said his department is trying to find the owners.
Bourque wants residents who may be missing valuables to contact police and, if possible, provide a photo of the missing item. The Longboat police can be reached at 316-1977.
When having a service person perform work in your home, Bourque said it is important to lock up valuables and keep them in the same room with you.
“Before you hire anyone to do work for you, Google them,” he said. “You would be surprised by what pops up.” Also, check both the Sarasota and Manatee Sheriff’s offices, as well as the Clerk of Courts in both counties, he said.