SCRANTON --A woman from Lackawanna County who cleans houses for a living was charged today accused of stealing more than $500,000 worth of jewelry from the very homes where she worked.
Lackawanna County detectives said this case came to light when a man from South Abington Township noticed his gold watch was missing, then a gold ring, then he thought the worst and called police.
Turns out seven different people had the same experience, and one thing they all had in common was their cleaning lady, Heather Antos from Archbald.
Antos is self-employed, for the past year she cleaned homes for friends and acquaintances. According to detectives in Lackawanna County, she paid some of her bills with things she stole from the homes she was cleaning.
One of her clients was Debbie from Waverly Township near Clarks Summit. Debbie didn't notice anything was wrong until detectives came to her about an investigation into stolen jewelry.
Then, she thought about her mother's charm bracelet she thought had gone missing.
"I didn't realize until then that maybe she had the bracelet too, because I was making myself crazy. And to this day, I still don't know if she has it or not but that bracelet is very sentimental to me," Debbie said.
According to court papers, that charm bracelet is just one of the pieces police suspect that Antos stole from seven of her clients, taking more than $500,000 worth of jewelry.
Joseph Kapalko of South Abington Township noticed a gold watch and ring were missing after Antos cleaned his home last month. He was the first to call police.
"Well, at that point in time my interest was in doing the best to protect other people who may have been victims in this process," Kapalko said.
Kapalko said, like most of the victims, the jewelry stolen from him included family heirlooms.
In court papers, Antos admits selling the items to gold dealers for a fraction of their value all to pay bills she was behind on.
"It's really heartbreaking, and then I referred her to other people. And that really makes me even more upset. Because if it wasn't for me those people wouldn't have been victimized, too," added Debbie.
Detectives said while the stolen jewelry that's accounted for is worth more than $500,000, Heather Antos told them she sold it all for about $2,000.
Antos was arraigned Friday on theft charges and released on bail.