A Millersville, Lancaster County man is sentenced to 33-66 years in prison for burglarizing the homes of more than two-dozen of his friends and neighbors.
Stewart Michael Lazarus was a well-known and respected soccer coach. No one in the borough suspected he could be behind the largest burglary spree in Millersville’s history.
“People were just waiting, there were so many burglaries, people were just waiting for it to hit them,” said Millersville Mayor Richard Moriarty.
Moriarty recalls the fear that swept through the borough last year. The bulk of the burglaries started at the end of February 2012 and continued throughout the year, spreading to about 30 homes in Millersville, Manor Township and West Lampeter Township. Before it was all over, even the mayor’s house was hit.
“We were doing everything we could and it’s extremely frustrating,” said Det. Sgt. Jeff Margevich of the Millersville Police Department.
But Margevich said Lazarus’ luck ran out on September 16, 2012, when an alert neighbor called 911 to report hearing glass breaking at a neighbor’s house.
“Once he saw the flashlight shining in the windows, he knew the police were out there,” Margevich said.
Lazarus was so brazen, he targeted a number of his neighbors, located right around the corner from the Millersville Police Department on Municipal Drive.
“He grew up here since he was small, and everybody knew him,” Margevich said. “Most all of these victims, knew him.”
Lazarus was a beloved high school soccer coach, who’d been named coach of the year four times and had no criminal record. What he did have, police say, was a drug addiction and a high from fleecing his friends and neighbors.
Now Lazarus could spend up to 66 years in prison, a sentence his victims cheered.
“When the judge finalized his statement, and the gallery erupted into applause, I think that pretty much summed it up,” Moriarty said.
Lazarus has a 90-day appeals window. After that passes, the police department can start the process of returning the recovered items to their rightful owners.