HORICON - Buried in the thick woods of northern Warren County, 2 miles from the nearest road, was a testament to human adaptability.
A tarp-covered lean-to loaded with clothing,sleeping bags and provisions - items believed to have been stolen from seasonal homes around the Brant Lake region - was his residence, at least for the last several months.
The man police believe endured the elements of the Adirondacks in a pine-branch shelter was Alan G. Como, 56, whose last known address was in Massachusetts, police said. He told police he'd lived in the woods for the past 20 years.
He was charged Wednesday with resisting arrest and trespass and was being held in Warren County Jail for lack of bail. Police said he will face burglary charges in connection with as many as 60 break-ins at camps in the area. Police spent much of Thursday scouring the area where he had been living for evidence in the burglaries, Warren County Sheriff Larry Cleveland said.
"When he was arrested he wearing a pair of pants with the name of one of the burglary victims written on it," Cleveland said. "Everything he was wearing was stolen."
He was arrested Wednesday afternoon after a group of about 20 sheriff's officers and state troopers swept the woods around where they discovered he had been staying.
They found his camp thanks to tips from a pair of observant town of Horicon snowplow drivers, who spotted bicycle tracks in the snow headed into the woods earlier this week and knew police had been seeking the woodsman/burglar in that area.
Horicon Highway Superintendent Paul Smith said town plow drivers Mark Younes and Scott Holland notified him that they saw fresh bicycle tire tracks in the snow while plowing about 2:30 a.m. Tuesday.
They found it notable that someone had been biking on rural Beaver Pond, Horicon Ridge and Palisades roads on a snowy early morning, he said.
"They thought it was odd to have bike tracks up there at that time of night," Smith said.
The tip prompted police to begin searching the area Tuesday afternoon and much of Wednesday. Trooper Eric Swan and sheriff's Patrol Officer Robert Gould were able to chase him down, tackle him and take him into custody shortly before 3 p.m. Wednesday.
"He was up on a mountain ridge, a good 2 miles back from the (Beaver) pond," the sheriff said.
Como does have a criminal record, and last had a driver's license in 1986 in Massachusetts, officials said.
Big and muscular with little fat on his body, police said he is in remarkably good shape for someone his age who has apparently lived in the woods for at least several years.
"He's a pro. He knows what he's doing," Cleveland said.
Only items needed for survival - clothes, sleeping bags, food and batteries - were taken during the burglaries, with the thief leaving behind valuables like jewelry and electronics, the sheriff said.
Como would not talk with police about the burglaries after he was arrested Wednesday, asking instead for a lawyer.
The Warren County Public Defender's Office was appointed to represent him, but Public Defender John Wappett said he could not comment on the case Thursday because representatives of his office had yet to meet with Como.
Police routed a man they believed to have been Como from a similar campsite near Beaver Pond in October, discovering items believed to have been stolen during burglaries during the spring and summer. He then apparently moved deeper into the woods, just southwest of the Pharaoh Lakes Wilderness Area.
State Police Senior Investigator Bud York said Como acknowledged to police that he was living in the woods of Clinton County two winters ago.
That's when State Police believe he had set up a similar compound near Chazy Lake, from which he was chased by police. They unsuccessfully tried to catch him in 2004 after numerous burglaries occurred there as well.
"He's a different character," York said. "There's got to be quite a story behind it."