Pittsburgh police have accused six Spring Garden men of working as a team to break into 55 cars in the city.
Police said Anthony Mieglitz, 34, of Spring Garden, acted as the ringleader, offering to help the other five men feed their heroin habits if they would steal laptops, iPods, GPS systems and other valuables from cars.
Police have obtained warrants to arrest Mr. Mieglitz, his brother John Girvin, 27, and Richard Phillips, 20, all of Spring Garden. Two other men, Joseph Pail, 27, and Joseph Vidnic, 19, are currently in custody. A third man, Brandon Hulboy, 20, was arrested and has posted bail.
In some cases, the men said they took items left in sight because they thought the victims "deserved what they got," Detective Bill Churilla said at a press conference this afternoon.
In other cases, the men looked for tinted windows, fancy rims and other signs that someone might have valuable items inside their car, taking orders from heroin dealers who fed their habits in return for specific goods, Detective Churilla said.
He said it was nearly impossible for police to determine how many more break-ins the men had committed. They often worked in teams, he said, and one or two men might be responsible for a break-in while another was high in the backseat of the get-away car.
As a result, each of the men claimed to have remembered different sets of break-ins.
Mr. Mieglitz, the detective said, had been arrested before for breaking into vehicles himself and told officers that he changed his methods and recruited a team after he finished probation for his initial set of break-in charges.
First published on September 5, 2012 at 4:37 pm