By Beth Germano, WBZ-TVBy Beth Germano

NEW BEDFORD (CBS) – A New Bedford woman is accused of stealing thousands of dollars of jewelry, clothing, household items and cash from people’s homes.

And police say her victims let her in the front door. She’s a cleaning woman who’s accused of cleaning up while on the job.

WBZ-TV’s Beth Germano reports

Forty-three-year-old Maria Oliveira will be summonsed to court on Tuesday after police say found dozens of items inside her apartment, and some of her alleged victims have found their valuable jewelry was sold to pawn shops and gold buyers.

“Because it was someone I’d known for a long time and trusted, I had no reservations giving her a key to the house,” said Angela Correia of Mansfield. She calls Oliveira a family friend who she hired months ago, and also recommended her to others. “I recommended her to my friend, my friend’s parents, and she took from all of them,” she said.

Correia says it was Oliveira who stole a valuable necklace her grandparents gave her for graduation, after traveling to Portugal to buy what they hoped would become a family heirloom.

She found the gold buyer who bought it, but the piece was already melted down. “It really is a betrayal,” she said. Mansfield police detective Michael Ellsworth says she probably made a few hundred dollars on pieces worth thousands, but over the last year-and-a-half he says she made a significant amount of money.

He says she also cleaned homes in New Bedford, Dartmouth, and Holbrook and police are still trying to determine how many people may be victims of her “shopping” spree. Angela Correia says Oliveira is engaged and may have been trying to save for a wedding, but believes the only motivation is “greed”.

“This is a really hard lesson to learn, but you really can’t trust anyone,” she said.


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