Woburn woman arrested in $20,000 massage therapy jewel heist sting

Eric Tsetsi

A sting operation conducted by Winchester police last Friday led to the arrest of a Woburn woman for extortion, larceny over $250, receiving stolen property and conspiracy to commit a felony.

Denise M. Martin, 38, of 831 Main St., Apt. 312, Woburn, was arrested in the Russell Hill Parking lot May 1 with $16,500 worth of stolen jewelry, including a diamond engagement ring valued at about $12,000, two wedding bands valued at $4,000 and a $500 Movado watch, police said.

According to the police report, Martin allegedly stole the items from a massage therapist at Salone Estetica on April 30, and then tried to sell the jewelry back to the victim.

Police coordinated the sting operation after the victim informed them she had received a phone call demanding $20,000 cash to have the items returned.

Police gave a “flash roll” of cash — $1 bills wrapped in a $100 dollar bill — to the victim who agreed to meet with Martin to make the exchange. When Martin attempted to exchange the jewelry, the victim pulled a blue bank bag out of her purse, which was the signal for police to move in and make an arrest.

Inspector James Gray approached Martin and saw the stolen jewelry in her hand. He showed his badge and arrested Martin.

After Martin was taken into custody she told police she had taken the jewelry from the massage room and hid it in her bra before leaving the salon. She couldn’t explain why she had taken the items.

Martin first became a suspect in the case, after the victim reported she had given Martin a massage shortly before her jewelry went missing.

Police tracked down Martin after the theft, but weren’t able to initially locate the jewelry. A search of Martin’s person and car failed to turn up the stolen items.

Eric Tsetsi can be reached at 781-674-7731 or etsetsi@cnc.com.