A man who broke into a Courthouse apartment and rubbed a sleeping woman’s arm had struck twice before in the same apartment building, ARLnow.com has learned.
On Sunday, Sept. 15, six days before the arm-rubbing incident, police say the same suspect broke into two apartments and stared at women while they slept. Both break-ins took place between 4:00 and 5:00 a.m., and ended with the suspect — who was wearing a yellow polo shirt and khakis — fleeing the apartment after the women woke up, according to police.
In the first instance, the man said “oops, wrong room,” after the woman, who was sleeping in a bed with her boyfriend, awoke. In the second instance, the suspect fled after the victim woke up, saw the man staring and her and began screaming.
The second victim, who did not want her name used in this article, contacted ARLnow.com and shared her story.
“Around 4:45 a.m. [on] Sept 15, I woke up to find a man standing at the foot of my bed staring at me,” she wrote. “He did not say anything to me. I screamed from my bed (as where he was standing was blocking my bedroom door) for about 30-45 seconds… before he slowly backed out of my bedroom and ran out of my apartment.”
“I did not hear him open the door to my apartment, so I waited about about 45 seconds and ran out of my apartment, into the lobby and called 911,” the woman continued. “The police came right away and searched my apartment, but the intruder had left.”
Six days later, the man broke into another apartment and began rubbing a sleeping woman’s arm, before she woke up and he fled the scene. During that incident, the man was wearing a red polo shirt and blue jeans.
The break-ins all took place at the Meridian apartment complex at 1401 N. Taft Street.
The suspect is described as a 5’10″ to 6′ white or Asian male, between the ages of 20 and 25. In each of the three cases, police say, the victims were white women in their 20s who live with roommates.
It’s unclear how the man is choosing his victims, or how he has managed to gain entry to the apartments. Apartment doors in the building lock automatically, though it’s possible that the victims’ doors were accidentally left partially open. Today, building management posted a flyer online encouraging residents to lock the dead bolt on their doors.
Police are working the case in hopes of finding the suspect before he possibly escalates his crime.
“We’re actively investigating and working with the victims,” said Arlington County Police spokesman Dustin Sternbeck. “It’s a good reminder to make sure people are locking their doors at night, and if they are a victim of a crime, contact police immediately.”
Sternbeck noted that the suspect description fits that of many residents of the apartment complex, making the investigation more difficult.
Photo (bottom) via Facebook
The department created an infographic with statistics about two common types of theft — residential burglaries and larcenies from auto — for the first seven months of 2013.
Armed with knowledge like the most common day and time for break-ins, and the most commonly stolen items, police say residents can make smarter choices — for instance, making sure GPS units and laptops aren’t left in plain sight for thieves to find.
An average of 14 homes are burglarized in Arlington each month, with an average stolen item value of $854. An average of 68 vehicles are broken-into each month, with an average of $286 worth of items stolen.
“We’re informing the residents of Arlington County of some of the trends we’re seeing in the first half of 2013 calendar year,” ACPD spokesman Dustin Sternbeck said of the graphic. “We’re deploying resources based on this information.”
About 15 vehicles in the garage were broken in to Monday afternoon, according to Arlington County Police spokesman Dustin Sternbeck. The cars each had their door lock “punched,” allowing a thief to gain access to the inside of the vehicle. Valuables like wallets, purses, credit cards, cash, phones and GPS units were taken.
Sternbeck said the suspect or suspects moved from car to car, sometimes leaving items stolen from one vehicle in another vehicle. The thefts all took place between 12:30 and 1:30 p.m., Sternbeck said.
Thefts are fairly common in the Pentagon City mall parking garage, though a large series of thefts such as this doesn’t happen very often. In July, thieves struck at least 10 vehicles, including two police vehicles, in one afternoon.
“That’s one of the known hot spots for thieves due the the number of vehicles,” Sternbeck said of the parking garage. “[The mall is] typically a place where you leave valuables inside your vehicle. It’s easy pickins for these criminals.”
Police advise shoppers to keep valuables out of plain sight — perhaps locked in a trunk or a glove compartment — when parking one’s car in a public area.
Residents and business owners at the Market Common Clarendon shopping center/apartment complex were told in an email last week that management was increasing security patrols in response to a rash of break-ins.
“Over the past few weeks the parking garage experienced a number of vehicle break ins, and we want you to know that we share in your concern and frustration over these events,” property managers wrote. “Unfortunately, as the Arlington County Police have informed us, our garage is not the only area that has been affected — the entire County has seen an increase in vehicle break-ins.”
Arlington County Police spokesman Dustin Sternbeck could not confirm whether there has, in fact, been a noticeable increase in break-ins, but an email sent yesterday by management at the Residences at Station Square Condo (1201 N. Garfield Street) does point to the break-ins not being isolated to just one parking garage. The email, sent to building residents, confirms reports of thefts in the garage.
“We have had a rash of vehicle break ins in the garage,” the email says. “This has been happening throughout the Clarendon and Arlington area. The cars have been damaged during the break in, and small items have been stolen from the vehicle. To prevent this from happening in the future please remove all items from sight. Please remove any and all items in your parking space. Please use extra caution until the individual or individuals are apprehended.”
Last week police were dispatched to the garage for reports of incidents where a car window was busted in and loose change was taken, and where a convertible roof was cut open and a GPS navigation system taken.
Residents of both Clarendon buildings were sent an Arlington Police flyer (pictured) that advises them to always lock car doors, keep windows rolled up, and lock valuables in the trunk. Sternbeck reiterated that message in a discussion with ARLnow.com.
“It’s the responsibility of residents and visitors to lock their vehicle and not leave valuables in plain sight,” said Sternbeck, who also noted that “larceny from auto” is a common crime that occurs every day in Arlington County.
Management at the Residences at Station Square said they were “taking preventative measures from this happening in the future.” Among the actions being taken at Market Common Clarendon were expanded private security patrols, a private duty Arlington County police officer on patrol during overnight hours, and coordination with ACPD beat officers and crime prevention specialists.
Detectives are investigating 10 reports of car break-ins at the mall parking garage yesterday, including five reports of larcenies from auto (items stolen from inside the car) and five reports of attempted larcenies.
Police believe the incidents took place between 11:00 a.m. and 4:00 p.m. Two of the victim vehicles belonged to law enforcement agencies, according to Arlington County Police spokesman Dustin Sternbeck. Sternbeck wasn’t able to confirm which agencies were involved, except to say that the vehicles did not belong to Arlington County. ARLnow.com hears that at least one of the vehicles was an undercover Fairfax County police car.
Sternbeck said that mall-goers can help protect themselves from theft by making sure to lock their vehicles and by keeping valuables like iPods, GPS units and cash hidden in a locked glove box or trunk. Shoppers are also asked to report suspicious activity in such parking garages to police or mall security.
One or more suspects broke into a locked house on the 5500 block of 7th Street S., in the Forest Glen neighborhood, at some point on Sunday. According to police, the suspects played beer pong while inside the house. They then allegedly stole two cars parked outside, leaving the residence “in disarray” with empty beer bottles strewn about.
The crime was reported Sunday afternoon by an adult female house sitter – a friend of the family that owns the house and the vehicles, according to police.
There is no suspect description available.
Public Streetcar Meeting Tonight — A public meeting will be held tonight to gather resident input on an alternatives analysis and environmental assessment conducted for the planned Columbia Pike streetcar project. The meeting is being held at Patrick Henry Elementary School’s gymnasium (701 S. Highland Street) from 7:00 to 9:00 p.m. [Pike Transit Initiative]
Op-Ed: Streetcar Will Spur Development — While the Columbia Pike streetcar has many vocal critics, at least one resident has penned an op-ed supporting the project. Real estate developer David DeCamp says the streetcar will spur development and attract ridership in a way that the alternatives — including an articulated bus system — cannot. [Sun Gazette]
Car Break-Ins Near Ballston — Overnight, between Monday, June 4, and Tuesday, June 5, four Honda sedans were broken into on the 5000 block of N. 10th Street, in the Waycroft-Woodlawn neighborhood near Ballston. The windows were smashed and airbags in each of the vehicles were stolen. GPS devices were also stolen from two vehicles. All of the vehicles were parked in an area away from residences, with little street lighting, according to police spokesman Dustin Sternbeck.
County Gets Low Rate on Bonds — Arlington County sold $108 million in bonds yesterday, June 5, and received what it’s calling “one of the lowest overall rates Arlington has seen.” The General Obligation Public Improvement Bonds sold to investors at an average interest rate of 2.77 percent. [Arlington County]
Flickr pool photo by MrFochs
Someone broke into an Alcova Heights apartment last week, used the bathroom, and didn’t flush. From this week’s Arlington County crime report:
UNLAWFUL ENTRY, 02/17/12, 3600 block of S. 5th Street. Between 7:45 am, on February 14, and 6 pm, on February 15, an unknown subject entered the victim’s apartment and used the bathroom. There were no items reported missing. There is no suspect description.
According to Arlington County Police spokesman Dustin Sternbeck, the bathroom bandit may not have flushed, but he or she did, at least, turn off the lights.
“An unknown subject defacated in the victims toilet and didn’t flush,” Sternbeck said in an email. “The suspect also turned off interior lights in the residence that were left on… there were no signs of forced entry.”
Sternbeck said he could not recall any similar incidents in Arlington in recent memory. The rest of this week’s crime report, after the jump.