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Maid arrested in eBay scheme

Police say she cleaned houses a bit too well and tried to sell her loot on an online auction site.

By LEANORA MINAI

© St. Petersburg Times, published March 23, 2001


ST. PETERSBURG -- Mary Ann Smith couldn't find her Olympus camera anywhere. In fact, she was missing a few items.

"I was just thinking things were misplaced," said Smith, 42, of St. Petersburg.

Then she saw her camera on eBay.

Police arrested Smith's cleaning lady, Kaye G. Gorman, 48, on Wednesday and charged her with grand theft, dealing in stolen property and burglary. She is being held without bail in the Pinellas County Jail.

Gorman, who is self-employed, also is a suspect in other cases in Pinellas Park and unincorporated Pinellas County, police said.

Investigators were alerted to Gorman after families she worked for began missing items, police said. The clients, knowing she sold items on eBay under the names "superkidsmom" and "luvs3angels," began checking the Internet auction site.

Smith found her Olympus camera listed. Another victim saw a missing Sony 8mm camcorder, valued at $700. They contacted police.

Detective Rick Barber and his investigator, Mel Freeman, logged on to eBay several weeks ago, looking for Smith's stolen digital camera. They made the highest bid at $240 and got the camera.

"We took a gamble," Barber said. "When we received it, the victim's pictures were still in the camera."

Detectives with the Pinellas County Sheriff's Office got involved. They had Gorman under surveillance at 11 a.m. March 15 in the 2800 block of 61st Lane N.

Gorman tried to get into the home of another client by pulling on a broken window, then crawled through a doggy door, an arrest affidavit said.

She was inside the home an hour "and made several trips back and forth to her car outside, via the front door," the affidavit says.

Smith, one of the victims, has advice for homeowners: Take photographs of property and make a note of serial numbers. That way, Smith said, there is proof of ownership.

"People need to protect themselves," she said.

She still is missing her diamond anniversary ring.

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