Cleaning lady charged with theft

OKEECHOBEE — An Okeechobee woman hired to clean a home nearly cleaned out the homeowner’s shed and is now facing a felony theft charge.

Maria Antonia Rodriguez, 49, S.E. 36th Ave., was arrested Monday, July 3, on felony charges of grand theft and burglary of an unoccupied structure.

Maria Antonia Rodriguez, 49

She was booked into the Okeechobee County Jail on a bond of $5,000. Jail records show she has been released on bond.

An arrest report by Deputy Jessica Francis, of the Okeechobee County Sheriff’s Office (OCSO), stated Rodriguez had been hired to clean a home that a woman had just purchased. The idea was for Rodriguez to clean the home prior to the woman and her boyfriend taking occupancy.

The home was nearly empty because the new owners were in the process of painting and refurbishing the home. There was also a shed located behind the home.

Deputy Francis went on to point out that the new owners not only installed a surveillance camera inside the home but also took photos of their items being stored in the shed.

At some point on July 2, the feed to the surveillance camera was lost. So, the new owner and a female friend went to the home to check on the housecleaner.

When the homeowner arrived, she noticed a small pickup backed up to her shed. She apparently had told Rodriguez not to worry about the shed, so seeing the truck there seemed odd to her.

She then went inside the home to check on Rodriguez. When she entered, the small pickup drove away, noted the deputy. And as the truck was leaving, it passed right by the homeowner’s friend, who happened to see a green lawnmower in the back of the truck.

According to Deputy Francis, the homeowner immediately went to the shed and noticed that not only was her lawnmower gone, but so was a window air conditioning unit, a shop vacuum, a weed eater and several other items. In all, continued the deputy, items valued at a total of $965 were missing from the shed.

The deputy reportedly found Rodriguez at her home and arrested her without incident.

Eric Kopp is a staff writer for the Okeechobee News

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