WOODMERE, N.Y. (CBSNewYork) — She cleaned their homes and then cleaned them out of their prized possessions.

That’s what police in Nassau County are saying about a Queens woman who worked for several families in the Five Towns area.

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They are homes protected by alarms, but police said that didn’t stop the theft that was going on within.

Osmina Guzman of Far Rockaway is accused of stealing cash and jewelry from three homes totaling $42,000. Guzman was employed for more than a year-and-a-half by working moms with small children.

Neighbors knew her.

“Hide your jewelry and hide your valuables,” Woodmere resident Pauline Honig told CBS 2’s Carolyn Gusoff.

“I never trusted help because of exactly this situation,” Judy Lubliner of Woodmere added. “I would rather do it myself.”

Police said Guzman worked in Woodmere on Lark Court and Howard Avenue, and in Cedarhurst on Arlington Road. Families noticed missing valuables for months but never dreamed that it was the work of the trusted maid.

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“You take someone into your house, she lives with you and you hope for the best,” Woodmere resident Toby Wolfson said. “You don’t know.”

In the end, it was the disappearance of an entire set of sterling silver that prompted the homeowners to confront Guzman. A victim’s relative said that she confessed, but the silver was long gone.

Security experts said that when hiring domestic help, it is highly advised to check references thoroughly. A criminal background check costs about $100, and if someone suspects theft they should consider a makeshift sting.

“You can put a piece of jewelry that is not expensive — you don’t want to lose something expensive — and if it’s missing then you know this person is taking it,” private investigator Jay Salpeter advised.

Homeowners and renters are also encouraged to put away their cash and jewelry, even in their own home.

Guzman was charged with three counts of grand larceny.

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Do accusations such as these deter you from hiring maids and domestic help? Sound off with your thoughts and comments in the section below…