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Report: ‘Cleaner’ stole from client

MANATEE — Authorities say the victim of a jewelry theft tried for as long as possible to keep an eye on the woman she hired to clean her house.

But eventually the victim had to leave her home to go pick up her children. Detectives say her cleaner, Lisa G. Payne, then took the time alone in her customer’s northwest Bradenton home to steal the victim’s precious jewelry worth more than $100,000, according to Manatee County Sheriff’s Office reports.

“It is certainly a good idea to keep an eye on someone in your home as much as possible,” said sheriff’s spokesman Dave Bristow. “But it can be almost impossible to do that sometimes.”

Sheriff’s reports say an advertisement in the Bradenton Herald led the victim to call Payne. A voice mail greeting on Payne’s telephone said her business is called “Lisa’s Housekeeping and More.” Bristow said she runs her own business.

Payne cleaned the woman’s home off 75th Street West at least three times, according to sheriff’s reports. On May 4, Payne was again cleaning the victim’s home when the victim had to leave to pick up her son. Payne told the victim she only had to clean the bathroom and she, too, would be leaving.

The victim told detectives she felt uncomfortable leaving Payne alone in her house and even considered taking her jewelry with her. Later that night, the victim noticed her jewelry missing from her bathroom. Sheriff’s reports say Payne took a diamond ring, an emerald ring, diamond earrings, along with other items, all valued at more than $106,000.

After the victim reported the theft, detectives found two of the victim’s pieces of jewelry in a local pawn shop, including a $12,000 ring Payne sold for $80.

Detectives obtained a warrant to search Payne’s home in the 4700 block of 15th Avenue East, and found other pieces of the victim’s jewelry in a dresser in Payne’s bedroom. Payne told detectives she had intended to give back the victim’s jewelry the next day.

Deputies arrested Payne on charges of grand theft, two counts of defrauding a pawnbroker and two counts of dealing in stolen property. She was being held in the Manatee County jail on bonds totaling $41,000.

Bristow said theft by housekeepers has not been a problem over the years, even though opportunity for theft is there. But it doesn’t hurt to check a person’s background and ask for references, he said.

“It is always a good thing to establish trust with someone who is coming into your home, even if it takes a while,” said Bristow. “Certainly the opportunity for this sort of thing is there, but of course 99 percent of the people with housekeeping businesses are good, hard-working people.”

Detectives continue to investigate Payne to see if she advertised anywhere else and are asking any other possible victims to come forward. Anyone with information regarding this case or other incidents involving Payne and her house cleaning service can call the sheriff’s office at (941) 747-3011, ext. 2534, or Crimestoppers at (866) 634-TIPS.

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