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Lori Michelle Baker

Police in LaFayette, Ga., say a public housing employee stole thousands of dollars worth of jewelry and cash from residents.

According to Detective Billy Mullis' arrest warrant affidavit, 46-year-old Lori Michelle Baker used her master key to slip into five residents' Foster Circle apartments while they were away. She is charged with stealing $11,720 worth of wedding rings, necklaces, gems, watches, lockets, earrings and cash.

Baker works for the LaFayette Housing Authority, which receives money from the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development to provide subsidized homes to local residents. Ruth Bess, executive director of the housing authority, did not return a call seeking comment Friday.

Police arrested Baker on Thursday, charging her with five counts of burglary. She left the Walker County Jail on Friday morning after paying a $10,000 bond. She could not be reached for comment because her listed phone number was out of service.

LaFayette Police Capt. Stacey Meeks, spokesman for his department, did not return calls seeking comment.

The arrest warrant affidavit shows that five women on Foster Circle reported thefts between Feb. 20 and May 2. One particular theft led to Baker's arrest.

Between April 13 and April 15, according to the affidavit, someone stole a set of gold hoop earrings from Teresa Tucker's apartment. Police later found those earrings at the Jewelry Chest on North Main Street, and owner Laurie Linman told investigators that Baker sold her the jewelry.

The affidavit doesn't specifically explain how the police linked Baker to the other four thefts.

A Jewelry Chest employee declined to comment Friday, saying police ordered the store's personnel to not speak about the case.

Contact staff writer Tyler Jett at tjett@timesfreepress.com or at 423-757-6476.

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