Poway sheriff’s detectives nab Ramona cleaning woman for stealing jewelry
By Pat Kumpan
Poway sheriff’s detectives are being credited with a successful surveillance that ultimately led them to nabbing a cleaning lady suspected of stealing jewelry from homes she cleaned.
Maria Harerra of Ramona was caught on videotape while allegedly stuffing the items into plastic shopping bags during her chores at a Poway home, according to Detective Norm Hubbert.
An elderly Poway couple reported the missing jewelry, prompting detectives to install an undercover video in the home.
That incident, which happened several months ago, led Hubbert and fellow detectives Jim O’Brien and Dan Meyers to victims in other communities, including Mt. Woodson Estates in Ramona, Carmel Valley and the west side of 4S Ranch.
They recovered some jewelry, pawn slips and other evidence from various thefts, which were shown to the victims, Hubbert said.
San Diego Deputy District Attorney Paul Greenwood, who heads the elder abuse unit, said Harerra, who had worked for some of the families for 10 years, was not considered by the victims as someone capable of committing such a crime.
“Some of the initial reactions were ‘there’s no way Maria would have done this,’” Greenwood said.
“I’m so impressed with the Poway detectives,” he added. “This started off with just one victim, but they followed it through.”
Putting a value on the stolen jewelry was difficult for some victims, because the items were very sentimental, Greenwood said.
“I never look at the theft of such items in terms of monetary value, but as an enormous blow — a sense of betrayal,” Greenwood said.
Greenwood’s tips to homeowners and renters is to lock up valuables, keep an inventory and, if possible, take photos or a video of the items to help establish value.
Harerra was convicted of the home burglaries and is serving a one-year sentence at Las Colinas Women’s Facility in Santee.
Her sentence includes repaying victims an estimated $100,000 in restoration, Greenwood added.
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