Woman Caught Stealing Jewelry at Open Houses

PHOTO: A Maryland woman is going to jail for posing as a real estate agent and stealing jewelry from houses.PlayMontgomery County Police Department
WATCH Open House Can Mean Open Season for Thieves

A Maryland woman is going to jail after she stole jewelry from real estate open houses, including an irreplaceable heirloom.

Sally Spaisman, 58, was sentenced Wednesday to one year in jail and five years of probation, the Montgomery County State's Attorney's Office says, for stealing more than $82,000 worth of jewelry from about 12 homes in the Bethesda, Chevy Chase and Potomac areas.

She pleaded guilty to the theft charges after she combed the Internet for expensive homes on the market, showed up at the open houses, then stole expensive jewelry, prosecutors said.

Ramon Korionoff of the State's Attorney's Office says the case resonated widely because "anyone who has had to sell their home or property has a visceral reaction to this kind of crime."

"Because you open up your home. You trust realtors and prospective home buyers to honor your home and not steal anything from you," Korionoff told ABC News today. "And that's a violation of that trust. And I think a lot of people can relate to that situation."

During one theft, a camera inside a closet caught Spaisman in the act, according to ABC affiliate WJLA-TV in Washington. The video was used as evidence in court.

"The video speaks for itself," Korionoff said. "The squeamishness of sorts. Like, 'Hey, that could have been my house.'"

One victim, Carlos Bonilla, told WJLA that Spaisman took three items from his $1.1 million house, including a very personal one: a gold bracelet he inherited from his late parents.

"It was a piece that I meant to give to my daughter and now I'm not going to be able to,” Bonilla said. “When these things hit the resale market after a theft, they just get melted down for scrap."

Spaisman must also pay restitution to her victims and complete 200 hours of community service, according to the State's Attorney's Office.

But she still has support among some of her friends.

“It’s not the whole Sally. There’s a really good Sally in there," longtime friend Karen Sprecher Keating told WJLA after Wednesday's sentencing. "Life has been complicated and difficult and she made some wrong choices.”

The attorney who represented Spaisman did not immediately return ABC News’ request for comment.

(Editor’s note: According to the state’s attorney in the case, Spaisman did not pose as a real estate agent, as originally reported in this article, but rather as a prospective homebuyer.)