A house cleaner was arrested last weekend for stealing jewelry from at least two Palo Alto homes where she worked, and investigators say they suspect she may have stolen from others throughout the Peninsula, police said.
Police arrested Martha Quintero-Ramirez, 36, in Redwood City on Saturday, on suspicion of burglary after catching her with stolen items from Palo Alto homes she cleaned, police said.
The investigation began when police responded to a home in the 700 block of Bryant Street after receiving reports of a burglary just after 8:40 a.m. Saturday.
The victim told police the theft occurred the previous morning when the home had been cleaned by two house cleaners, including a 20-year employee of the homeowner and a relatively newer employee, Quintero-Ramirez, who had been cleaning the home for less than two years.
The victim also said a next-door neighbor's home had been cleaned by the same pair.
The victim told police that after the home had been cleaned, she noticed that money hidden in her closet was missing, along with six pieces of jewelry and two bottles of prescription medications.
The victim called the neighbor, who checked and noticed that a wedding ring and antique watch were missing.
The two victims then contacted another Palo Alto resident who employed the same house cleaners, to alert them. That person reported that antique coins and jewelry had gone missing from their home within the past two months.
Police said that their investigation led them to believe that Quintero-Ramirez was acting alone and that her partner had not known about the thefts or stolen anything herself.
When police contacted Quintero-Ramirez on Saturday, they found a wedding ring from the second victim's home and a bracelet from the third victim's home, along with several other items of jewelry.
Quintero-Ramirez was booked into Santa Clara County Jail on suspicion of two felony counts of residential burglary.
Police say that Quintero-Ramirez also cleaned homes in Mountain View, Los Altos, San Carlos, San Mateo and Redwood City, and that she may have been stealing from employers for more than a year.
Police said that anyone who employed Quintero-Ramirez is encouraged to contact their local police department.