As the burglar was rifling through the rooms in that house, the homeowner's son arrived and startled him. The burglar jumped out a window and fled. The son called police, who searched the house.
They were stunned at what was found: a cellphone, charging in an electric socket, that didn't belong to the homeowner.
The phone led police to Cody Wilkins, who is now charged in 10 burglaries.
Police say that Wilkins's home lost power in the storm and that he needed a place - anyplace, it seems - to charge his phone. In his haste to flee, he left it charging.
Now he is cursing Pepco louder than anyone.
Wilkins, 25, was being held in the Montgomery jail on a $1 million bond. Officers said they suspect he is responsible for more thefts.
Detectives were able to use the phone to get to Wilkins in part with a ruse that involved calling a number programmed into it. They told the woman who answered that the man whose cellphone they were calling from had been involved in an incident, law enforcement officials said. They needed to know his name.
It amounted to a huge break in an investigation that had frustrated detectives for weeks - 42 burglaries since Jan. 1 in the Silver Spring and Wheaton areas. Most cases have involved stolen jewelry.