NORTHERN VIRGINIA

More Cleaning Service Clients Report Items Stolen

Mirian Martinez is charged in the thefts of jewelry and other items.
Mirian Martinez is charged in the thefts of jewelry and other items. (Courtesy Of Fairfax County Police - Courtesy Of Fairfax County Police)
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By Jacqueline L. Salmon and Val Cavalheri
Washington Post Staff Writer
Sunday, August 10, 2008

Word got around about Mirian Martinez: She was a good cleaning woman, reliable and hardworking. People raved about her to friends, who hurried to hire her.

But then items began disappearing from homes where Martinez worked. Pretty shirts, prescription medications, children's lunch money and jewelry -- necklaces, earrings, bracelets and rings.

Police in Loudoun and Fairfax counties have charged Martinez with stealing tens of thousands of dollars' worth of items from the houses where she worked.

Five clients of Martinez's from Fairfax, Loudoun and Arlington counties have reported missing items, and police think more might come forward.

Word is spreading among Martinez's alarmed clients: The valuable cleaning woman might have been cleaning out your valuables.

"We should have paid more attention when we started to have suspicion that something just wasn't right," said one Loudoun resident who had employed Martinez for 11 years and developed deep ties with her. The client, who did not want to be identified because the case is pending, said that she had recommended Martinez to several friends.

Late last year, the family noticed that items were disappearing, including lunch money in a drawer and some pain pills from a previous bout with cancer.

The family didn't want to believe that Martinez was taking advantage of them, but in May, when a Tiffany charm bracelet disappeared, family members became convinced that Martinez had been stealing from them. The family filed a police report and let Martinez go.

Since then, police in at least two more jurisdictions have become involved as others who employed Martinez have come forward.

Clients "were contacting each other and sending out e-mails," said Kraig Troxell, spokesman for the Loudoun sheriff's office.

Martinez, 47, is being held without bond at the Loudoun County Adult Detention Center. Anna Livingston, Martinez's attorney on the charges in Fairfax County, cautioned that "these are all just allegations at this point" but declined to comment further.

After checking area pawnshops, police arrested Martinez after they found several stolen items -- including the charm bracelet -- that she allegedly had taken to First Cash Pawn on North Glebe Road in Arlington.


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