From all appearances, it was a typical "smash and grab" burglary of a gas station-convenience store near Lovettsville in northern Loudoun County.

Loudoun County Deputy Sheriff W.J. Owens arrived Tuesday morning at Bridge End Center just across the Potomac from Brunswick, Md., to investigate the break-in and found a set of footprints in the snow. He followed them several hundred yards to a cabin that also had been broken into.

From there the trail went for more than a mile through the woods along the steep bluffs that line the Potomac. Suddenly the trail ended.

Owens found the suspect sitting in a cave brewing a pot of coffee over a fire. In the cave and in a hollow stump nearby, Owens and other deputies found a sleeping bag, personal effects, and a supply of cigarettes and junk food.

"He had just sort of set up house," Loudoun Sheriff's Department spokesman Terry McCracken said. "He had been there several days, maybe a week."

Serge Joseph Taillon, 40, of no fixed address, was arrested and charged with burglary, petty larceny and trespassing. He was being held in lieu of $1,000 bond yesterday at the Loudoun Adult Detention Center.

McCracken described Taillon as a drifter, originally from Canada.