Orange manhunt leads to arrest in Walmart robberies
Franklin County Sheriff Christopher Donelan,of Orange, in a file photo in his office at the Franklin County Jail and House of Correction in Greenfield.
ORANGE — Franklin County Sheriff Christopher Donelan’s shopping trip to Walmart this week turned into a four-hour manhunt — for a shoplifter accused of stealing thousands of dollars in merchandise.
Donelan, Orange police, state police and other law enforcement agencies teamed up to capture a Troy, N.Y., man suspected of stealing from several Walmart stores from here to New York.
Darren L. Favreau, 43, fled Walmart at about 5:30 p.m. Monday after a store security employee reported seeing him load merchandise into a tote. Favreau allegedly dropped the tote when he realized he was being watched by Walmart’s Asset Protection Department. And when Orange Police Officer Jonathan Cole approached to speak with him, Favreau fled.
Four hours, two police dogs, one state police helicopter, one night vision thermal imager and a blockade of police cruisers later, Favreau was found hiding in a stored boat on the E-Z Access Storage property, at 620 East Main St.
Favreau — wanted on arrest warrants from New York — was arrested in Orange on two counts of larceny valued at more than $250 and one count of resisting arrest. He was also charged with being a fugitive from justice on a New York court warrant, and of driving with a suspended license.
He was arraigned Tuesday in Orange District Court and held in custody on $25,000 cash bail, according to Orange Police Sgt. James Sullivan.
Cole was inside the Walmart, investigating a Nov. 14 theft of about $5,000 worth of merchandise, when the store’s Asset Protection office reported the suspect was back in the store.
According to Sullivan, the items taken last Thursday mostly consisted of video games and DVDs. He said another $3,000 worth of games and DVDs were found in the tote bag that was dropped in the store just before Monday’s pursuit.
Officer Cole pursued Favreau through the parking lot, before losing sight of him in the woods beyond E-Z Access.
“What happened was, I was at Walmart shopping,” said Donelan, a former police officer and state legislator who still lives in Orange. “I came out the door and saw the Orange police officer chasing someone across the parking lot. So I got in my car and joined in.”
When the suspect had disappeared into the woods, Donelan called his office to request a police dog to track the suspect. “Our dog tracked him for an hour, then the Orange dog joined in.”
According to Donelan, the dogs kept tracking the suspect in a circular pattern in the woods and in the E-Z Access storage facility buildings throughout the evening.
“This guy was from New York, and his family was out with him,” Donelan explained. “The Orange police basically had (his family) with his parked car. It was close to 9 p.m. by the time we found him.”
Sullivan said Favreau’s daughter and a friend were waiting in a parked care with New York license plates. “We knew the suspect’s vehicle on (Nov. 14) was out-of-state, possibly from New York,” said Sullivan. He said the store’s management got information about Favreau through the North Adams Walmart, where he is also suspected of theft.
After losing Favreau on foot, Cole secured the vehicle and questioned its occupants, he said.
Donelan said a police helicopter circled over the wooded area, lighting it up with a search light, and using a thermal imager, which detected movement inside the stored boat. Also, he said, Athol State Police assisted, parking cruisers along the perimeter of the woods, from East Main Street to Brookside Road.
Sullivan said the foot-chase resumed several times before the suspect hid in the boat. After that, the dogs tracked a stronger scent in the area of the boat, and Favreau was discovered by State Trooper Constantino Digisi. The arrest was made by Digisi and Orange Police Officer Michael Lapointe.
“The reason all these reinforcements were called in was, because during the search, they found out he was a fugitive from justice,” said Donelan. “There were multiple arrest warrants” for parole violations.
The search was directed by Orange Police Chief Craig Lundgren and Donelan. Also assisting were the Athol and Erving police departments.