Authorities in Fauquier and Loudoun counties are investigating whether a man arrested last Sunday in Richmond could be connected to a series of burglaries that have plagued communities in northern Fauquier and western Loudoun in recent months.
Damian Scott Francis Falero, 29, of Farmville, Va., was arrested in Richmond and charged with burglary in connection with a van stolen a couple of days earlier from Boxwood Winery in The Plains, Fauquier County Sheriff’s Office spokesman Lt. James Hartman said.
Investigators were trying to determine whether Falero and a second suspect might be involved in a series of burglaries at homes in western Loudoun and along the border of Loudoun and Fauquier, Hartman said.
Falero and a second male, who remained unidentified and at large, came to the attention of authorities after a Fauquier County resident returned home Sept. 25 to discover what appeared to be a burglary in progress.
About 2:30 p.m. that afternoon, a resident of a house on Halfway Road in northern Fauquier, just south of Middleburg, found an unfamiliar green Ford Taurus parked in the driveway, Hartman said.
When the resident pulled in behind the Taurus, a male ran from the front door of the house carrying what appeared to be a backpack and jumped into the driver’s seat. The resident of the home was unable to stop the car from leaving but described the vehicle and the driver to police, Hartman said.
As the resident spoke to police on his phone, a second male fled the house, jumped over a stone wall and fled in the direction of neighboring Boxwood Winery, Hartman said.
The green Taurus was found abandoned on Sullivan’s Mill Road, Hartman said. Police dogs followed a trail from the car north through the countryside, toward Middleburg — where a suspect, later confirmed to be Falero, was spotted the evening of Jan. 25, Hartman said.
The Loudoun Sheriff’s Office issued a reverse-911 call to Middleburg residents to alert them that a person of interest had been seen in the area. But authorities were battling deteriorating weather conditions as a winter squall passed through the area, Hartman said, and neither suspect was located that night.
On the morning of Jan. 26, Boxwood Winery reported that a white van had been stolen from the property. Authorities believed that the second suspect to flee the home probably stole the vehicle, Hartman said.
Last Sunday, Richmond police spotted the stolen van outside a hotel off Route 95. A team of Fauquier detectives, along with Richmond police, took Falero into custody without incident, Hartman said.
“The second suspect is still at large. We’re pretty comfortable that we have identified him but we haven’t been able to confirm yet, so we are still working on that,” Hartman said. “Right now, we’re looking to link Mr. Falero to the other burglaries in the area that have occurred since October.”
The first of the burglaries was Oct. 23, when jewelry was stolen from a home on Halfway Road in The Plains. In November, silver and cash were stolen from another house on the same road, authorities said.
Similar burglaries were reported in Loudoun in December: A home on Harmony Church Road in Hamilton was targeted Dec. 5, and a second home was burglarized Dec. 10, authorities said. In both cases, jewelry and silver were stolen.
The most recent incidents were reported Jan. 17. The first occurred in the afternoon, at a home on Foxcroft Road in Middleburg, the Loudoun Sheriff’s Office said. In that case, a glass panel on the front door of the home was damaged, and a firearm, a digital camera and camera equipment were stolen, authorities said.
The incident was similar to a burglary reported the same day, on Watson Road in Middleburg. That break-in also occurred in the afternoon and targeted jewelry and digital cameras, authorities said.
A third break-in was reported on Lime Kiln Road in Leesburg on Jan. 17. A door was damaged, and small electronic items were taken, but authorities said it was unclear whether that case was related to the other burglaries.
In most of the incidents, the burglaries occurred in the daytime, while the residents weren’t home, authorities said.
The Loudoun sheriff hosted a community meeting in Middleburg on Thursday to address the burglaries. Sheriff’s office spokeswoman Liz Mills said about 75 people attended.
As of Friday, Falero remained in custody in Richmond, where he faced additional unrelated charges, authorities said.
Authorities were continuing to search for the second suspect Friday, Loudoun and Fauquier authorities said.