Weather Forecast


Fired housekeeper must repay more than $20,000 after Woodbury jewelry thefts

A former housekeeper convicted of stealing jewelry from a Woodbury home must repay thousands of dollars as part of a Washington County judge's sentence.

The woman, Barbara Jo Parks, of Inver Grove Heights, was sentenced Nov. 18 to 40 days in jail and five years on probation. The sentence, issued by 10th District Court Judge John Hoffman, also calls for Parks to repay more than $20,000 in restitution. In addition to $9,454 to the homeowners, she must also pay $12,358 to an insurance company.

Woodbury police were first alerted to the theft in August 2010, when the homeowners reported 13 pieces of jewelry had been disappearing from the house. The couple had initially thought the pieces might have been misplaced, but became suspicious of theft as more pieces continued disappearing.

The total estimated value of the missing jewelry was $11,018.

The couple told police the only person who had regular access to their house was their housekeeper, Parks. On Aug. 23, 2010, the couple confronted Parks and told her they suspected she had knowledge of the thefts, though Parks denied it at the time.

She was then fired by the couple.

Woodbury investigators discovered Parks had been pawning several pieces of jewelry beginning in May 2009. None of those jewelry pieces belonged to the Woodbury couple, however.

Police interviewed Parks in September 2010, where she admitted pawning jewelry, but said it had been inherited.

One day later, an emotional Parks called the investigator and admitted to stealing jewelry from the Woodbury family. In a subsequent interview, she told an investigator she had been stealing and pawning the jewelry as a result of a financial hardship.

During the interview, Parks admitted to stealing jewelry - rings, bracelets and earrings - from the couple on at least six occasions and pawning it at a West St. Paul pawnshop.

Parks was sentenced to spend 40 days in jail, which Hoffman allowed her to spend on electronic home monitoring or the Sentencing to Serve program.

A fine of $1,000 was stayed for 10 years as part of the sentence.

Mike Longaecker

Mike Longaecker is the regional public safety reporter for RiverTown Multimedia. His coverage area spans St. Croix and Pierce counties. Longaecker served from 2011-2015 as editor of the Woodbury Bulletin. A University of Wisconsin-River Falls graduate, Longaecker previously reported for the Red Wing Republican Eagle and for the Forum Communications Minnesota Capitol Bureau. You can follow him on Twitter at @Longaecker

(715) 426-1072