Chesco man joins brother in prison for six-county burglary spree

NORRISTOWN — A Chester County man has joined his brother in prison in connection with a scheme to burglarize pizza shops in six counties.

Edward Louis Heinzman, 48, of the 1900 block of Valley Road, Coatesville, was sentenced in Montgomery County Court to 30 to 60 months in a state correctional facility after he pleaded guilty to felony charges of burglary and conspiracy to commit burglary in connection with break-ins that occurred between May and September 2011 in Montgomery, Chester, Berks, Delaware, Bucks and Lancaster counties.

“As part of a conspiracy, he was involved in a series of commercial burglaries,” said Assistant District Attorney Alec O’Neill, referring to Heinzman, who along with his brother, John, was implicated in the crime spree. “He was involved in the crime spree that focused on smashing and grabbing whatever they could from the small businesses.”

Judge William R. Carpenter, who accepted a plea agreement in the case, ordered Heinzman to share with his brother in the payment of $13,031 in restitution to the burglary victims.

In January, John Heinzman, 42, also of Coatesville, was sentenced to six to 12 years in state prison after he pleaded guilty to burglary and conspiracy charges in connection with the scheme.

Prosecutors explained the brothers’ sentences were different, based on the level of their participation in the crime spree.

“They did act as a team at times. Both of them had severe drug addictions and that led them to commit these crimes,” O’Neill alleged.

At the time of his arrest in 2011, John Heinzman was accused of being involved in more than 80 break-ins. While the burglaries occurred in numerous counties, the cases were consolidated for prosecution by Montgomery County authorities.

An investigation began in late 2011 and “once criminal investigators from multiple jurisdictions began comparing the burglaries similarities began to materialize,” Whitpain Detective Brad Potter alleged in a criminal complaint. The targets generally were takeout restaurants like pizza shops and beverage stores.

The burglaries took place between 10 p.m. and sunrise and most involved smashing glass doors to gain entry into a business, usually a restaurant with small amounts of cash available, court documents indicate. Once inside, the burglars stole “startup cash,” small safes and cigarettes, authorities alleged.

“The investigation also revealed that the actors would commit more than one burglary a night in a short period of time. On occasion, they would return to the same locations that had already been burglarized,” Potter alleged.

The burglaries occurred at businesses in the following locations: Limerick, Skippack, Whitpain, Hatfield, Worcester, Montgomery and East Norriton townships in Montgomery County; Coatesville and West Goshen and West Whiteland townships in Chester County; Birdsboro and Amity, Exeter and Caernarvon townships in Berks County; Chadds Ford, Kennett Square and Concord Township in Delaware County; Chalfont, Warrington and New Britain Township, in Bucks County; and Ephrata, Strasburg, Manheim and West Lampeter in Lancaster County, according to court documents.

Police reviewed video surveillance from the businesses and determined one bandit wore a hooded sweatshirt, glasses, gloves, and a black ski mask and carried a crowbar. The second bandit wore gloves and a bandana over the lower half of his face, according to court papers. Surveillance video also captured an image of a vehicle used in the break-ins.

Detectives subsequently developed the Heinzman brothers as suspects in the burglaries, according to the arrest affidavit.

According to the criminal complaint, police were familiar with John Heinzman stemming from previous investigations or arrests in connection with alleged commercial break-ins between 2005 and 2008 in multiple jurisdictions.

Authorities eventually obtained court approval to monitor the global positioning location of John Heinzman’s cell phone and the data retrieved indicated he was in and around the location of numerous burglaries, according to the arrest affidavit.

Follow Carl Hessler Jr. on Twitter @MontcoCourtNews