Cops snag serial purse snatcher

Posted on April 30, 2013 by Sonoma Valley Sun

The suspects in a string of purse snatchings including a theft at a fundraiser at the Hanna Boys Center are behind bars.

Detectives arrested Joshua Lenzi, 25, of Santa Rosa, and later, when she came to see him in jail, his girlfriend, Courtney Silliman, 31.

The spree began April 20 when a purse was stolen from an office during the Hanna event. Soon thereafter the victim’s credit card was used at gas station in Vallejo. The next day the suspect forged and tried to cash one of the victim’s stolen checks at a check cashing business in Concord. The suspect used his real ID card and he was identified as Joshua Lenzi.

Later that day a lady was shopping at the Lucky’s store in Petaluma with her purse in her shopping cart. As she turned to grab an item off a shelf, the suspect grabbed the purse and ran out the door.

On April 23, the Petaluma Police Department responded to a report of three discarded purses in a retail parking lot. Recovered were the Lucky’s store victim’s purse, the Hannah Boys Center victim’s purse, along with a purse belonging to a woman from Vallejo, who had her purse stolen while shopping at the American Canyon Walmart.

Officers were actively searching for Lenzi when he was arrested during another attempted heist on April 25. According to the Sheriff’s report, Lenzi had entered the Petaluma Safeway store and stole a woman’s purse from a shopping cart. As he fled the store, Lenzi was chased by a witness who restrained him until police arrived.

Lenzi was initially arrested for commercial burglary and grand theft, and held on $10,000 bail. Investigators soon matched Lenzi’s MO to other crimes and, through interviewing witnesses and gathering surveillance video, ultimately pegged him to a total of six purse theft cases.

Lenzi may have committed two additional purse thefts in Santa Rosa Police Department’s jurisdiction, which remain under investigation.

Sheriff’s Detectives discovered that Lenzi’s girlfriend, Courtney Silliman, had participated in two of the purse theft cases. Silliman was arrested April 29 when she showed up in court to see Lenzi’s arraignment.

With additional counts including grand theft, check forgery and ID theft, Lenzi’s bail is now set at $115,000. Silliman, who was on probation for a previous DUI conviction, had a bail amount of $16,000.