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Suspected jewel thief wanted in area cases

By Alex Bridges — abridges@nvdaily.com

BERRYVILLE — A city man remains under investigation for a string of recent burglaries in the area while free on bond for possession of stolen jewels and a gun charge in Winchester.

Francis P. MacDonald Jr., 21, of the 400 block of Virginia Avenue, remains held without bond at the Northwestern Regional Adult Detention Center on one count each of burglary and grand larceny from Clarke County. Police arrested MacDonald on the charges on June 29, the same date the alleged offenses occurred, court records show.

However, authorities in Frederick County plan to seek indictments against MacDonald in August related to at least four burglaries reported in June, according to Maj. Robert “Robbie” Eckman, of the Sheriff’s Office. The agency has not yet charged MacDonald with any offenses related to the most recent burglaries, Eckman said Monday.

Frederick County investigators received consent to search a vehicle operated by MacDonald, according to Eckman, and officers “noticed some property that didn’t look like it belonged to him.”

“Consequently he admitted … he had just done a burglary in Clarke County,” Eckman said. “Clarke County was actually still working a case, making a report and then met us.”

Frederick County authorities have been investigating a burglary reported at a residence on Zepp Road in Star Tannery on June 28, according to Eckman. Coins and jewelry valued at several hundred dollars as well as oxycodone tablets were reported stolen, Eckman said.

Shenandoah County also continued to investigate several burglaries possibly connected to the break-ins in Frederick and Clarke, according to Eckman. Shenandoah has not yet charged MacDonald in the investigation.

Winchester police charged MacDonald on May 26 with possession of stolen goods valued at more than $200 and possession of a firearm by a person previously convicted of a felony. Officers arrested MacDonald at a home on Amherst Street. Authorities accused MacDonald of having in his possession thousands of dollars worth of jewelry reported stolen May 25 from a home in the 200 block of Walker Street.

The investigation initially led law enforcement agents to a home in Regency Lakes, off Berryville Pike, that was once listed as MacDonald’s residence, but authorities found him at a residence on Amherst Street, court documents state.

City police recovered some, but not all, of the items during a consensual search of the residence. Officers also found a firearm in the home not listed among the items reported stolen, according to authorities.

A judge granted MacDonald’s release on a $4,000 bond, which the defendant posted two days later, according to jail records.

Authorities are investigating whether MacDonald committed a series of burglaries that occurred in late June in Frederick and Shenandoah counties and culminated in the breaking and entering of a home in Clarke County on June 29.

MacDonald is scheduled to appear in Winchester General District Court on July 20 for a preliminary hearing on his city charges. His preliminary hearing on charges in Clarke County General District Court is set for Sept. 1.