Accused church purse thief wanted for other crimes

June 15, 2011 4:14:07 PM PDT
A woman accused of stealing from women's purses at Houston church services is also wanted on other theft charges in the Conroe area. Two days ago, the Harris County Sheriff's Office released surveillance video of a woman they say robbed another woman's purse as the owner of the purse was taking communion in church.

The suspect, Cynthia Gonzalez, also known as Cynthia Martinez, has a long criminal history and today we learned even more about other thefts for which she is being blamed. The Conroe Police Department says it has been working four cases of theft, identity theft and credit card abuse involving Martinez.

Investigators say the store surveillance video shows Martinez, wearing her scrubs from work, using someone else's credit card at a T-Mobile store last September. That credit card was allegedly stolen while Martinez worked at the Sadler clinics in Conroe.

"While they're being examined or what not, she'll get into their purse or wallet, take ID, take credit cards, and then go out and make large purchases on their dime," said Sergeant Joe Smart of the Conroe Police Department.

He says Martinez hit at least four victims.

"This lady is a career criminal. She knows what she wants to do. She's getting jobs where it furthers what she wants to do. She's just a career criminal," said Sgt. Smart.

One of those victims was Maybell Putska. She was getting treatment in an examination room at one of the Sadler clinics when her card was stolen. It was apparently used while she was hospitalized.

"I just left my purse there and she said, 'I'll get it,' and then the purse was just there, and I never would have thought," said Putska. "I didn't even know until I got back to the house two days later. They kept me in the hospital, and two days later, I got a call from Discover."

What's more, detectives say the Martinez they captured on the T-Mobile video is the very same person caught on video at a Harris County church in March, stealing from a parishioner during communion.

When Conroe police made the connection this week, they sent out a search warrant, but Martinez was gone.

"I know we'd like to get our hands on her. She's victimized a lot of people," said Sgt. Smart. "She's obviously using other people's names, the name she's known by locally or employed by is obviously not her name, so finding her is our top concern."

Martinez's rap sheet goes back 20 years. Dating back to 1989, Martinez has been convicted of three counts of theft, two counts of forgery, one count of theft of service and five counts of credit card abuse.

Martinez was charged with credit card abuse on May 10 for stealing an AMEX card from a woman's purse while it was one a pew during service at St. Elizabeth Ann Seton on April 18. She is also currently charged with forgery for using stolen checks taken from a woman during a committee member meeting for the Houston Livestock Show and Rodeo on January 12.

For her most recent victims like Putska, they'd like to see Martinez behind bars, and for a long time.

"It's horrible, bad enough from the hospital, or the clinic, and then to go to the church and do it," said Putska.

What's even more surprising is that the Harris County District Attorney's Office now believes Martinez had felony indictments against her dismissed because she provided a doctor's note saying she was terminally ill and in hospice.

Martinez, 43, has ties to Houston, Galveston, Conroe and Corpus Christi. Conroe police say she is currently out on more than $50,000 bond stemming from two charges from Harris County and one charge from Galveston County.

Authorities say they currently do not know Martinez's whereabouts and are searching for her.

Anyone with information about the four Conroe cases can call Detective R. Bennett of the Conroe Police Department at 936-522-3331.

Victims who may have had their property stolen while at church are urged to call the HCSO's Burglary and Theft Unit at 713-967-5770.

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