Stealing a Purse in Church: a How-To Video

The Harris County Sheriff's Office has released this security-cam video of a woman rifling through a purse during a church service.

"God and a camera were watching Cynthia Gonzalez, aka Cynthia Martinez, as she allegedly stole from a woman's purse after the woman got up to receive communion," the sheriff's office said. "HCSO investigators say this was a frequent practice for Gonzalez as she's 'prayed' on parishioners at several area churches."

For some reason they haven't edited the half-hour clip, but if you download and then fast-forward you can catch the action.

Cynthia Martinez: Don't sit next to her in church.
Cynthia Martinez: Don't sit next to her in church.

HCSO offers this timeline:

08:45 Suspect enters and sits down

15:10 Suspect moves to a different pew, just behind victim

19:40 Suspect exchanges sign of peace with victim

23:05 Suspect is seen allegedly digging through victim's purse

23:50 Suspect leaves church

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It doesn't quite exactly match up with our viewing of the thing, but it's close enough.

It seems the victim is suspicious when Martinez moves behind her -- at one point she moves her purse from her seat to underneath the pew. Didn't help.

"Gonzalez has been charged with credit/debit abuse related to another church theft case in April and has been released on bond," HCSO said. "Charges related to the case on video are pending. Gonzalez has a history of financial crimes in Harris County and Galveston County dating as far back as 1991."

The sheriff's office is asking "victims who have had their property stolen while at church service" to call 713-967-5770 with any information.

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