One long-ago arrest came after he was found in a Howard County motel with a cache of stolen candy that included a case of chocolate-covered peanuts. He was called "the gentle burglar" for refraining from the brick through the window, instead prying the molding from windows and doors to get inside businesses - often replacing the glass when he left.
More recently, Patrick Francis Alfaro has been accused of burglarizing a nail salon, a Subway sandwich shop and three Hair Cuttery salons in Baltimore County. And when arrested not long ago, he told detectives he has committed too many burglaries to remember all of them.
But yesterday, when he admitted to breaking into a Chinese restaurant in Anne Arundel County, Alfaro made a deal. Part of his 11-year prison sentence will be suspended - if he takes detectives on a tour of his crimes to help them close some of their open cases.
"We're pleased that he is going to be facing significant jail time for his actions," said Kristin Fleckenstein, a spokeswoman for the Anne Arundel County state's attorney. "Certainly any burglary causes a great deal of agony for the business owners affected. This is a sentence that is in line with the struggles they had to face."
Alan Lee, the owner of Peking Star restaurant, where Alfaro was caught in the act last June with a crowbar in his gloved hands, talked yesterday of Alfaro's criminal history.
"He's had so many, many cases in the surrounding area," Lee said, adding, "He's supposed to get a job."
During the hearing yesterday in Circuit Court in Annapolis, Alfaro's lawyer said his client's drug problem had contributed to his crimes. Afterward, attorney Larry B. Litt would only say, "He never hurt anyone. He never destroyed places."
Anne Arundel County prosecutors have requested a sentence of 11 years with all but eight years suspended. Alfaro, who remains at the county detention center, is to be sentenced in that case next month. The 46-year-old Glen Burnie man is also due in court next week in Harford County.
Alfaro's criminal record goes back to at least the mid-1990s.
When officers lifted his fingerprints from a Howard County crime scene in 1995, they found him living at the White Elk Motel in Elkridge. Inside the room, police found candy, rolls of coins, a microwave, stereo, shampoo and costume jewelry. Crack cocaine and a smoking pipe were also found in the room, according to charging documents.
He was forthcoming to police, according to the documents, and admitted to committing burglaries in all five metropolitan Baltimore counties. He was sentenced to six years in jail in 1996.
Last year, police familiar with his methods identified him as a suspect in burglaries in the area, and began conducting surveillance on Alfaro, court records show.
In the early-morning hours of June 27, 2007, police staked out Old Mill Plaza in Millersville. According to charging documents, police from Anne Arundel and Baltimore counties saw Alfaro wearing a dark shirt and blue jeans.
He pried open the back door to the Peking Star restaurant, and as police moved in on him, he went back into the business and closed the door, according to charging documents.
Detectives followed him inside and found him sitting in a chair. In an interview with police after his arrest, he said "he was having some hard luck in life and needed to get some money," according to charging documents.
He told police his car was out of gas and he broke into the restaurant to get money to fill his tank.
"He did indicate that he was sorry for what he had done and that he meant no harm to anyone," the documents state.
Alfaro has also been charged in the March 2007 burglary of a Harford County barber shop.
That month, according to court records, he removed the glass from the front door of the Beards Hill Barber Styling in Aberdeen.
D.J. Jenkins, longtime owner at the barber shop said a clock and a cheap men's wristwatch was stolen from her desk.
Jenkins' shop had been burglarized before Alfaro struck, and she has since had an alarm installed.
Thieves in the earlier burglaries had put bricks through the shop's window. Jenkins said she was surprised after the burglary last March to see that the thief had apparently left the pane of glass leaning against the outside wall.
"He didn't even chip the glass," she said.