Bobby Jo Heiss, 25, of Oakhurst, was arrested for residential burglary Nov. 9 after the Madera County Sheriff's Office got a break in an investigation that has been on-going for a number of weeks concerning a rash of residential burglaries in the Mountain Area.
The sheriff's office has identified recent Oakhurst resident Christopher Edwin Wrought, 45, Heiss' boyfriend, as an accomplice in the burglaries although he has not been apprehended at this time. The sheriff's office is asking for the public for assistance in locating him. The investigation is ongoing.
The pair, at one point, resided on Big Oak Flat Road in Oakhurst.
Coined the "cat-burg" couple, Heiss and Wrought are suspected of burglarizing numerous homes located in Oakhurst and North Fork.
When Heiss (maiden name Harvey) was 12 years old, she and a friend were honored by the sheriff's office for their alertness in obstructing a would-be kidnapper and provided information to deputies that led to the man's arrest. The girls received a special medallions and $100 savings bonds for their alertness and bravery.
According to Erica Stuart, public information officer for the sheriff's office, the office has been investigating 57 stolen property cases in the Mountain Area that have occurred over the past 10 weeks. During the same 10 week period, 81 cases have been investigated on the Valley floor of Madera County. These crimes include commercial, residential and vehicle. During the same period last year, 64 property cases were reported in the Mountain Area.
"These burglaries have been about half business and half residential," Stuart said.
Stuart explained that additional "property" crimes have also taken place in the Mountain Area that are not categorized as residential or business crimes. These are thefts from barns, storage sheds, detached garages, RVs and travel trailers stored on a person's property and thefts from vehicles parked away from homes.
Mountain deputies, Neil Cutherbert, Joseph Wilder, Josh Cushing and Sgt. Colleen Weisert, along with California Highway Patrol officers, assisting sheriff's office detective Larry Rich, apprehended Heiss off Highway 41 in Coarsegold last Friday at 1:23 a.m.
According to Stuart, Wrought is believed to still be in the Central Valley area, possibly in Fresno. He is 5-foot8 and weighs about 180 pounds. He has brown hair and blue eyes. He sports a number of tattoos, among them: a skull holding a hand of cards located just below his left ear, a panther or jaguar penned on his right bicep, Wild One painted across his back with the Nazi "SS" symbol in between the two words. He also has flames tattooed on his left wrist.
Arrest records show that in 2005, Wrought, at the time, a Fresno parolee, was arrested in Madera County for parole violation. He was arrested again for parole violation in Madera County in 2006, and turned over to the California Department of Corrections. He was arrested a third time for probation violation and possession of narcotics in Fresno this past March. He is currently on probation in Fresno County.
Stuart said many of the burglaries taking place in Eastern Madera County are being committed by "home grown kids."
"These crimes are not being committed by out of town or out of state people," Stuart said. "The majority of these crimes are being committed against neighbors by neighbors."
Sheriff John Anderson, speaking at a recent town hall meeting in Coarsegold, warned residents to be wary of auto thieves and burglars as they "are not going away" in Eastern Madera County.
Stuart said that in one incident, an area couple noticed a suspicious car parked in front of a neighbor's home and didn't think anything of it. The couple later found out, not knowing their neighbors were on vacation, that the house was burglarized.
Stuart emphasized two points to help protect yourself from a home burglary:
1). Let your neighbors know when you are going to be away from your home. Neighbors watch out for neighbors.
2). Alert the sheriff's office when you will be away from your home so members of Citizens on Patrol can check on your home at random times during the day and night.
"Here in the Mountain Area, there is often a lot of acreage between neighbors, and that's where our Citizens on Patrol volunteers can help ."
Stuart said that burglars need to be aware that there are people watching out for their neighbors
She also recommends leaving a radio or the TV on when not at home to deter would-be burglaries, having them think someone is home.
Anyone with information about any home burglaries or the whereabouts of Wrought, are urged to call either the Madera County Sheriff's Office, (559) 765-7770 or Crime Stoppers, (559) 498-STOP. An anonymous tip to Crime Stoppers that will help detectives apprehend Wrought or other buglers could be worth up to $1,000.
"The people committing these crimes all know each other and we are requesting the public's assistance in locating Wrought," Stuart said.