A 32-year-old Silver Spring man who was charged with the theft of more than $250,000 in valuables from home in exclusive sections of Bethesda and Silver Spring pleaded guilty yesterday in Montgomery County Circuit Court to four counts of housebreaking.

Thomas O'Leary, who was once called "the obituary burglar" by police because of his prior arrests on charges that he burglarized homes whose residents were out of town attending funerals, now faces a maximum of 10 years in prison on each of the four counts. His sentencing is scheduled for Feb. 21.

Despite the guilty pleas, "there is no reason why we won't ask for the maximum sentence (40 years)," said Deputy State's Attorney Timothy Clarke.

O'Leary was arrested last July 21 and charged with 26 counts of house-breaking. According to the indictment of O'Leary, the housebreakings took place between September, 1976, and last July.

Clarke said O'Leary was generally selective in the items he took, mostly choosing expensive figurines, silver tea sets, silver flatware, fur coats and diamond and gold jewelry. A wind-up China clock, 26 Franklin half-dollars and a 1780 Austrian coin were also among the items stolen, the indictment alleged.

O'Leary mostly broke into houses along Massachusetts Avenue and Little Falls Parkway and in the Somerset and Westmoreland Hills sections of the county, Clarke said.