NORRISTOWN — A Chester County man with a penchant for burglarizing pizza shops in six counties will have his next slice behind bars.
John David Heinzman, 42, of the 1900 block of Valley Road, Coatesville, was sentenced in Montgomery County Court to six to 12 years in a state correctional facility after he pleaded guilty to multiple felony counts of burglary and conspiracy in connection with break-ins that occurred between May and September 2011 in Montgomery, Chester, Berks, Delaware, Bucks and Lancaster counties.
“He’s admitting to being a serial, commercial burglar, breaking into multiple small businesses when they’re closed and quickly getting money and whatever he could out of the business,” said Assistant District Attorney Alec O’Neill, referring to Heinzman. “This was a crime spree.”
Judge William R. Carpenter, who accepted a plea agreement in the case, ordered Heinzman to share with his alleged co-conspirator, his brother Edward, in the payment of $13,031 in restitution to the burglary victims. Edward Louis Heinzman, 48, also of Coatesville, who authorities alleged took part in some of the burglaries, is still awaiting court action on similar charges, according to court records.
“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. “They had a method and a routine on how to identify a target, break in and get what they could.”
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.
“It was wide ranging in southeastern Pennsylvania and a lot of businesses were hit and it took a concerted multi-county effort to find who was responsible,” O’Neill said.
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: in Limerick, Skippack, Whitpain, Hatfield, Worcester, Montgomery and East Norriton townships in Montgomery County; in Coatesville and West Goshen and West Whiteland townships in Chester County; in Birdsboro and Amity, Exeter and Caernarvon townships in Berks County; in Chadds Ford, Kennett Square and Concord Township in Delaware County; in Chalfont, Warrington and New Britain Township, in Bucks County; and in 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 Heinzman was in and around the location of numerous burglaries, according to the arrest affidavit.
Follow Carl Hessler Jr. on Twitter @MontcoCourtNews