On Thursday, April 30, 2015, Chester Heinzman pled guilty to 47 counts of felony burglary, 4 counts of attempted felony burglary, four counts of criminal mischief, and 45 counts of theft in connection with a two-month, multijurisdictional burglary spree targeting businesses. Heinzman received a negotiated sentence of 10-20 years of incarceration in a state correctional institution and was ordered to pay more than $38,000 in restitution.
Heinzman committed this burglary spree between November 15, 2013, and January 24, 2014. He struck businesses in six counties, primarily along the Route 30 corridor: 21 in Lancaster County, 20 in Chester County, 4 in Bucks County, 4 in York County, 4 in Montgomery County, and 2 in Delaware County. Most of these businesses were convenience stores, restaurants, and beer distributors.
Nearly all of these burglaries were committed in identical fashion. Heinzman would target businesses with glass doors or large windows. He would strike in the middle of the night, using a tire iron or crow bar to smash the glass to gain entry. Once inside, he would pry open or steal the cash register or safe, and would also frequently steal Newport cigarettes. He would often burglarize multiple businesses in the same night. Some burglaries netted only loose change, while in others Heinzman was able to make off with thousands of dollars in cash.
Because Heinzman’s crimes were committed in multiple jurisdictions spread out across 6 counties, it took some time for the various police departments to realize that they were dealing with a serial burglar. In December of 2013, a multijurisdictional police task force was convened to address these burglaries, and Heinzman was identified as the suspect. After setting up a surveillance detail and monitoring Heinzman for several days, members of the task force caught him fleeing the burglary of a gas station along Route 30 in Paradise Township on January 24, 2014.
Det. Brent Shultz of the Manheim Township Police Department and Trooper Aaron Dykes of the Pennsylvania State Police were the lead investigators.
At his guilty plea, Heinzman took responsibility for each offense, apologized to his victims, and claimed that his burglary spree was “not for fun,” but was instead motivated by his drug addiction.