Anne Arundel County police charged an Elkridge man yesterday with being the "gentle burglar" who broke into businesses from Hanover to Crofton without breaking glass to steal candy and cash from vending machines and registers.
Patrick Francis Alfaro, 34, of the 6500 block of Hunt- shire Drive also has been charged with burglaries in Howard and Baltimore counties and is a suspect in Carroll and Montgomery counties.
He is being held in the Howard County Detention Center on the burglary counts and on charges of possessing crack cocaine and drug paraphernalia.
Anne Arundel authorities charged Mr. Alfaro in seven break-ins in which the molding was pried off doors and windows removed to get into businesses. In most of the cases, the burglar replaced the glass in the door when he left, police said.
Baltimore County police charged Mr. Alfaro with nine burglaries and said he confessed to nine others. He has confessed to six burglaries in which he has been charged in Howard County and has admitted to 13 in Anne Arundel County, police in those jurisdictions said.
"He was a gentle burglar," said Detective Vaughn Dykes of the Anne Arundel County police. "I told him how a lot of people wanted to shake his hand because he didn't do a lot of damage to their businesses."
Police said the crime spree began in late August. Baltimore County Detective William Harmon said police there were led to Mr. Alfaro after they found in a pawnshop a television-videocassette recorder that had been stolen in one of the burglaries. They got Mr. Alfaro's name and address from the pawnshop records and the tag number of his white Nissan from the state Motor Vehicle Administration, he said.
Meanwhile, Howard County Detective Jody Tookey got fingerprints from a crime scene and traced them to Mr. Alfaro, authorities said.
On Oct. 17, a Baltimore County officer found Mr. Alfaro's car at the White Elk Motel, in the 6100 block of Washington Blvd. in Elkridge, a few miles inside Howard County, Detective Harmon said.
Mr. Alfaro had been living there for several weeks, Detective Dykes said.
The Baltimore County officer called Howard county police, who arrested Mr. Alfaro. Inside the hotel room, police said, they found candy, a microwave oven, a stereo, costume jewelry, several bottles of shampoo, rolls of coins and numerous bags of snacks and packs of chewing gum.
According to court documents, police also found crack cocaine and a smoking pipe in the motel room. Baltimore County police traced some of the candy to a machine in an office building in Baltimore County that had been broken into, Detective Harmon said.
Mr. Alfaro confessed to burglaries in all five jurisdictions while he was being interviewed by Howard County police, according to the court documents.
Detective Dykes said Mr. Alfaro admitted using crack cocaine before some of the burglaries and that he used the cash to support his drug habit and to pay for the motel room.
As for the snacks and candy, Detective Dykes said, "He just said he likes candy."