James Coscia, burglary suspect, targeted Mennonite homes on Sundays, police say

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Published: Feb 04 2013 01:51:36 PM EST   Updated On: Feb 05 2013 06:14:12 AM EST
Mennonite burglaries
READING, Pa. -

A Mertztown man burglarized or attempted to break into more than a dozen Mennonite homes when he knew the residents most likely wouldn't be there, police said.

James Coscia surrendered to state police on Monday. He was charged with eight counts each of burglary and criminal trespass and theft and criminal mischief.

Coscia, police said, committed the burglaries and attempted burglaries on Sundays at 14 homes belonging to members of the Old Order Mennonite community in Longswamp, Maxatawny and Rockland townships in Berks County.

One of the homes was burglarized twice, said police, who noted that most of the homes were unlocked at the time of the alleged thefts. Others involved forced entry.

More than $700 was taken during the burglaries, most of which happened in August, state police said.

Coscia told police he never went into occupied homes and avoided homes that "appeared to have children because he did not want anyone to be scared," according to court documents.

Coscia was committed to the Berks County Jail on $50,000 bail.

State police said they worked closely during the investigation with the former Berks-Lehigh Regional Police Department and Berks County detectives.