Man accused of texting friend, then burglarizing home

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A Murrysville man texted a former high school friend to find out if he was at work before burglarizing his home, police said.

James Z. Hill, 31, used the scam to steal some jewelry from the victim, and he may have used the same approach to burglarize the homes of at least two other former Franklin Regional High School classmates, Murrysville Police Det. John Devlin said.

Mr. Hill was charged with burglary, criminal trespass, receiving stolen property and theft in the case that began sometime around 11 a.m. April 4, when a friend of the victim happened to be driving by the victim's home in Murrysville.

He noticed a man attempting to enter the home through the garage door and called the victim, who said he wasn't expecting anyone at the home. The witness then drove around the block and waited, eventually spotting Mr. Hill emerging from the home.

The witness then followed Mr. Hill to the Murrysville Post Office, calling police along the way. Police went to the scene, detained Mr. Hill, and got the victim to go to the scene to determine what happened.

Police said according to the victim, Mr. Hill, who had just been in his home the week before, texted him in the morning to ask him if he was home. The victim told him, no, he was at work in Pittsburgh. Shortly afterwards, the witness saw Mr. Hill at the garage door.

Police suspect Mr. Hill in the burglaries of at least two other former classmates' homes and could file charges in those cases soon.

Det. Devlin said Mr. Hill pawned the jewelry from his burglaries, apparently to support a drug habit. Though Mr. Hill said he sometimes assists his father, a Monroeville eye doctor, he is not currently employed.

In the current case, Mr. Hill faced a preliminary hearing on Tuesday. He is still being held on $10,000 bail in the Westmoreland County Jail.


Sean D. Hamill: shamill@post-gazette.com or 412-263-2579


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