Police are currently investigating grand thefts from a homes in Danville and Walnut Creek where two housekeepers stole between $50,000-$75,000 worth of jewelry. Oakland residents Claudia and Dennise Barajas confessed to the thefts and are awaiting word from the district attorney.
The victim, a Danville resident who wished to remain anonymous, reported the theft to Danville Police on Tuesday, June 21 after she noticed a large amount of jewelry missing from a chest in her home office. She later realized a large box of Swarovski crystals was also missing.
"I never had anything like this happen, I did not have my jewelry anywhere that anybody who would break in would think of," the Danville resident said. "(The Barajas) worked for my daughter-in-law in Walnut Creek as well. When I told her my jewelry was gone, and she checked and hers was too. It was pretty obvious that the only people who were in both our houses were the cleaners."
Danville Police exercise caution when confronting maids or housekeepers about theft, said Lt. Jeff Moule, adding that Claudia, 36, and Dennise, 35, confessed to the thefts on June 22.
"We went to the maids' residents and recovered some of the jewelry but not very much. A lot of it had been sold at swap meets already," he said.
The Danville woman and her husband went to an Oakland swap meet and several pawn shops looking for the missing jewelry to no avail. She believes the Barajas sold the stolen goods to one dealer who is now long gone.
"For four years (Claudia) was completely honest, maybe they became desperate," said the Danville woman, who guessed that the housekeepers stole the jewelry on June 7, when she was at the doctor's office. "I think what happened was one day they were up here vacuuming and they got curious and opened the drawers and they found the gold mine and took advantage of it."
Claudia was booked and released from the Martinez Detention Facility while Dennise was booked and released from the Danville Police Department due to health concerns, said Sgt. Allan Shields with the Danville Police. Shields said he does not think the women are flight risks.
While this upset the Danville woman, who isn't sure the Barajas were booked under their real names and was told that the two might "walk away," Shields said the police are working to gather all the information they can before sending the case to the district attorney.
"We're going to be sending to the DA's office this week for review, charges are pending," he said, adding that police cannot detain suspects for more than 48 hours without filing charges. "Because they were in two separate jurisdictions, we wanted to make sure that we had everything we needed for the case so we waited till this week."
The Danville victim said it would a long time before she hired another housekeeper and advised other residents to make sure their housekeepers are licensed and bonded.
Sgt. Shields said he hasn't heard about any similar thefts from the Barajas' other clients.