Arlington County police cars are getting a new look.
All new county police cars are receiving a sleeker paint job, as seen in the above photo (left). Existing patrol cars will keep the old decals (right) to save money, we’re told.
The police department is planning to purchase 25 new patrol cars this year, according to ACPD spokesman Dustin Sternbeck.
Updated Sept. 5 at 9:00 a.m.
Drivers of electric cars will soon be able to charge up in Clarendon.
The parking lot of the Walgreens Pharmacy at 2825 Wilson Blvd is the site of Arlington’s newest electric car charging station, and it will be operational in about a month.
The station has multiple charging ports for all types of electric cars, including one that charges some cars in 20 minutes. Those interested in using the chargers can buy a monthly subscription from eVgo, the company that owns the ports and is installing about 50 of them around the Washington area in the next several years.
A two-hour charger can be used for a $5-per-month subscription, while the 20-minute charger subscription starts at $20 per month.
There are already electric car charging stations at the Hilton Crystal City and Rosslyn Gateway buildings (part of a competing charger network), stations in Shirlington and at Pentagon Row, and stations in Vornado properties in Crystal City. The Clarendon station is eVgo’s first in the county.
(Updated at 1:10 p.m.) There have been 41 reported thefts of vehicle tires and rims in Arlington so far this year. Of those, 24 have been stolen from just two models: the Honda Fit and Civic.
In keeping with what seems to be a national trend, the Fit is the most-targeted of the two, accounting for 16 — nearly two fifths — of the 41 thefts, according to Arlington County Police spokesman Dustin Sternbeck.
Tara-Leeway Heights resident Tom Olsen says he recently was the victim of the wheel thieves.
“My wife and I woke… to find that all 8 wheels had been stolen from our cars — a Honda Fit and a Honda Civic,” he told ARLnow.com. “The cars were in the driveway of our house. Both cars were locked… and near enough to a streetlight that the thieves would have been seen by a passerby. Also, the Civic had locking lug nuts on the wheels, but the thieves didn’t have any problem removing them. The officer said a pro can get them off easily, it just takes them slightly longer.”
“According to the police, [the] tow operator and rental car agent, Honda Fits (and to a lesser extent, Civics) have been targeted recently in and around Arlington as well as in Maryland and D.C.,” he continued. “In fact, when we told the rental car guy that our wheels had been stolen, he immediately asked ‘Do you have a Fit?’”
The Honda Fit Sport model is in demand because its 15-inch allow wheels fit low-riding cars customized for street racing. They also fetch high prices on the illegal car parts market.
The thefts usually happen between midnight and 5 a.m., [Fairfax County police officer Brendan] Murphy said. The thieves usually break into the car first to remove the jack so they can get the wheels off. The whole operation only takes a few minutes.
He advises Honda owners to install motion sensor lights. Car alarms with tilt sensors would be good, too. And if you happen to get up in the middle of the night, check on your car.
Photos courtesy Tom Olsen
Whether outdoors or inside, there are numerous events taking place around Arlington this weekend where you can spend some quality time with dad. Here are a few to consider:
Columbia Pike Blues Fest — The free event features food, music and children’s activities. Festivities run from 1:00-8:00 p.m. on Saturday, on S. Walter Reed Drive at Columbia Pike. This year’s headliner is guitarist G.E. Smith, who gained widespread fame through his time as the musical director on Saturday Night Live, following his stint as the lead guitarist for the band Hall & Oates. More information, including a full music schedule, can be found online.
Donuts with Dad — The Cherrydale Branch Library (2190 N. Military Road) still has a few spots open for dads and kids who want to stop by on Saturday for some sweet treats. From 10:30-11:30 a.m., the library will provide donuts and a craft activity for children. The event is free, but advance sign up is required by calling 703-228-6330 or visiting by the library.
Crystal Car Auto Festival — Crystal City is hosting its first annual Father’s Day Auto Festival. Visitors can check out a variety of autos, including innovative electric vehicles and classic muscle cars. The event runs from 2:00-6:00 p.m. on Sunday. Admission is free and a cash beer garden offers beer and wine. More information about exact locations for the auto festival can be found online.
Dash 4 Dad Race — Pacers has again partnered with ZERO — The Project to End Prostate Cancer for the four mile Dash for Dad race on Sunday. The 8:30 a.m. race begins at Pentagon Row close to the Pacers store (1101 S. Joyce Street). Registration and road closures for the race can be found online.
Go Fishing — Although the county no longer stocks trout in Four Mile Run due to budget cuts, residents are still allowed to fish in local waterways. Anglers over the age of 16 need a license to fish. The Department of Parks and Recreation website uses a fish logo to indicate parks — such as Alcova Heights, Glencarlyn and Upper Pimmit Run — where visitors may be successful in pulling in a catch.
Disclosure: Crystal City BID and Columbia Pike Revitalization Organization are ARLnow.com advertisers
The event, which is new for 2013, will feature a number of unique and notable cars displayed in local courtyards and surface parking lots. “Crystal Car,” as it’s called, will take place between 2:00 and 6:00 p.m. on Sunday, June 16.
“The festival plans to showcase a variety of automobile categories including innovative electric vehicles, area sports car auto clubs, classic muscle cars, and more,” the Crystal City Business Improvement District said in a press release. “The Washington Wine Academy will host a beer garden to further enhance the experience and celebrate Fathers Day in style.”
Admission is free but cash is required for beer and wine purchases at the beer garden. Cars will be displayed in in three Metro-accessible locations: the courtyard of 2121 Crystal Drive, the parking lot of 220 20th Street S. (site of the Crystal City wine festival) and the parking lot behind Freddie’s Beach Bar (555 23rd Street S.)
“Crystal City is a great place to host a car festival,” said Angela Fox, President and CEO of the Crystal City BID, in a statement. “Though there are other car shows in the Washington Metro area, none are as centrally-located, or as bike/Metro/car accessible, with tons of free parking and the great brunch and dinner options of Crystal City.”
Those with cars they want to showcase can register online.
File photo. Disclosure: Crystal City BID is an ARLnow.com advertiser
Many police departments and taxi companies are still trying to find a suitable replacement for the venerable but discontinued Ford Crown Victoria , but Arlington’s Red Top Cab already chosen its Crown Vic successor: the 2013 Ford Fusion.
Far from being a generic, workhorse fleet vehicle, the 2013 Fusion is actually a stylish car that’s setting sales records. Red Top, which has 58 older Fusion models in its fleet, says the newly-redesigned Fusion (starting MSRP: $21,900) is ideal for taxi use.
“Our 2013 Ford Fusions use aerodynamic styling and advanced engineering to provide exceptional gas mileage and a reduced carbon footprint without sacrificing comfort or safety,” the company said in its March newsletter. “Comfortable seating for five, a surprising commodious trunk, with rear seats that can fold down to accommodate items like skis, make for a very versatile taxicab.”
Red Top marketing director Von Pelot says the company has 20 new Fusions in its fleet of 350 cabs, and plans to add 30 more this year.
“We expect the Fusion to be our primary replacement vehicle for the Red Top fleet at this time,” Pelot said. He said that familiarity with Ford, an economical price, and safety were also factors when choosing a new fleet vehicle.
“The design of the 2013 also virtually eliminates ‘blind spots’ with windows strategically placed to provide almost 360 degrees of visibility,” he said. “Also, the 2013 Ford Fusion earned the highest five-star safety rating in federal crash tests, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.”
The car has been well-received by both taxi passengers and drivers.
“As a taxicab company, we have two sets of customers, our drivers — our ‘front seat customers’ — and our passengers,” he said. “We are receiving very positive reviews from the drivers who love the handling, lack of blind spots, fuel economy and really cool look of the 2013 Fusion. Our passengers like the comfort, and trunk size (those who use us for trips to the airport or shopping).”
Pelot said he’s not aware of any other local cab companies that are using the 2013 Fusion. Ford has not responded to a request for comment.
The Animal Welfare League of Arlington recently rescued a group of newborn baby squirrels from the engine compartment of a car, and the encounter was caught on video.
“When an Arlington resident took his car in for an inspection, the mechanic noticed a squirrel’s nest under the hood,” the AWLA said. “The mother squirrel had chewed through wires, cables and the container of windshield wiper fluid.”
“The squirrels were taken to a wildlife rehabilitator to be cared for until they are old enough to be released,” the organization noted.
(Updated at 6:50 p.m.) About half a dozen Arlington residents have woken up to find their car up on blocks over the past month.
Arlington County police have been responding to a seemingly increasing number of wheel thefts. Thieves have been been stealing the wheels — rims, tires and all — from parked vehicles in the middle of the night. So far, all of the thefts confirmed by ARLnow.com have taken place in south Arlington, but a tipster reported a “rash of wheel thefts” in the Madison Manor neighborhood of north Arlington in late October.
The most recent incident was reported Monday, Dec. 3. Two vehicles — a Dodge Challenger and a Dodge Magnum — had wheels stolen on the 2700 block of S. Veitch and S. Lang Streets. Meanwhile, two SUVs in the Riverhouse apartment parking lot on S. Joyce Street have had wheels stolen since the beginning of November, and a coupe had its wheels stolen in the complex’s parking garage. Also, a car on the 4700 block of Arlington Boulevard had two wheels stolen during Hurricane Sandy.
Police say they don’t have much to go on this point.
“We don’t have a very good suspect description right now,” said Arlington County Police spokesman Dustin Sternbeck. “But we know it’s more than one person.”
Sternbeck said the suspects are likely driving a vehicle large enough to haul a set of four wheels, possibly a van or a truck. Residents should be on the lookout for suspicious vehicles or activity in their neighborhoods at night, he said.
Police say vehicle owners can protect themselves by using lug nuts or wheel locks, and by parking in well-lit and high traffic areas. If given the choice of parking in a garage or outside, police recommend parking inside the garage.
“An ongoing goal of ours is to prevent this,” Sternbeck said.
Update on 12/7/12 — Police are investigating another report of a car left up on blocks. In the overnight hours of December 5, someone stole the wheels from a 2012 Toyota Camry. The car had been in the parking lot of an apartment complex in the 2700 block of S. Fern Street. This theft is near two incidents reported on Monday in the 2700 blocks of S. Lang and S. Veitch Streets.
Voter Turnout Just Missed Record — A record number of voters turned out in Arlington for the Nov. 6 election, but the turnout just missed the record for percentage of active voters who cast ballots. In the end, 84.6 percent of active voters in Arlington cast ballots, just shy of the 84.9 percent active voter turnout for the 1992 general election. [Sun Gazette]
County to Hold Recycling Chat Today — Arlington County officials will be holding an online chat about residential recycling today. The “Ask the Expert” chat will be conducted via Facebook from noon to 1:00 p.m. [Facebook]
JBG Installs EV Chargers — Property owner JBG has installed a number of electric vehicle charges at its Arlington properties. The company says charging stations have been installed at the Hilton Crystal City (2399 Jefferson Davis Highway) and at the Rosslyn Gateway buildings (1911/1901 N. Lynn Street). The charging stations, part of the Blink charger network, offer priority parking to electric vehicle owners, according to a press release.
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.
Justice Dept. Upholds Va. Voter ID Law — A new Virginia law that expands the types of identification accepted at the polls while disallowing a rule that had allowed voting without an ID has been given a green light by the Justice Department, just in time for Election Day in November. [Washington Post]
Cars for Low-Income Families — The group Vehicles for Change has received a $1 million grant that will allow it to provide a couple dozen used cars to low-income families in Arlington, at low cost to the families. [Arlington Mercury]
Arlington Seeks Urban-Agriculture Feedback – Arlington is asking for the public’s thoughts on urban agriculture — including backyard chickens — in the county, via its Open Arlington website. One statement on the forum implores the county to “bring a Walmart to Arlington.” [Sun Gazette]
Cap City Hosting ‘Summer Farewell Party’ — Capitol City Brewing Company in Shirlington (4001 Campbell Avenue) is hosting a “Summer Farewell Party on the Patio” tonight. From 4:00 to 9:00 p.m., the restaurant will be offering $6 burgers, $6 brats, $5 margaritas and $3.50 beer pints. [Facebook]
Arlington Launches Mobile Tourism Site — Arlington Convention and Visitors Service has launched a mobile-optimized website for tourists. The site, which can be accessed via smartphone at www.StayArlington.com, features tools to discover and get directions to local dining, shopping, sight-seeing and entertainment options. [Arlington County]
Photo courtesy Pam C.
Zimride, a company that connects long-distance carpoolers through Facebook, launched its “digital ridesharing” operation in the Washington area today.
Arlington residents looking for rides to New York can pay an average of $50 round-trip for a seat in another person’s car, according to Zimride’s Nick Greenfield, who described the concept as “non-creepy hitchhiking,” and the “long-distance version of slugging.”
Users match up with drivers and potential carpoolers by listing whether they smoke, their musical preferences and other personal details. The program first gained traction on college campuses as a way for students to more easily afford travel.
Now, the company is hoping to attract users in Arlington by opening up the site for Northern Virginia to New York road trips.
At least one Arlington resident has posted a ride for this weekend to New York. For $80 round-trip, “Clinton L.” is offering to drive passengers to Manhattan in his Infiniti FX45.
“[I] drive around 90 mph on the highway [and] listen to electronic dance music,” Clinton L. wrote. “Will take a total of 4 people… to ensure the comfort of all passengers.”
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.
As summer travel season ramps up, a lot of money will be put toward filling up the car with gas. But a new report claims the average Virginia family could save $560 at the pump this summer by using more fuel efficient cars.
The Environment Virginia Research & Policy Center, an organization aimed at promoting cleaner energy options, released the report. It highlights President Obama’s proposal to increase fuel efficiency to 54.5 mpg by 2025.
Organization representatives presented the findings today at a press conference at the River House Apartments (1400 S. Joyce Street) in Pentagon City. There, they highlighted the electric car charging station in the parking lot, and urged Arlington residents to consider purchasing an electric car.
The report claims that the improved standards would save the equivalent amount of pollution as taking three coal power plants offline for the summer, on top of the $560 each Virginia family would save.
“Not only could you take that trip to Virginia Beach while burning much less oil along the way, but you could book the family a hotel for a couple of extra days with the money you’re saving,” said John Cross, Federal Transportation Advocate for Environment Virginia.
Congressman Jim Moran (D) backs the proposed standards mentioned in the report.
“From an economic, environmental and national security perspective, we must reduce our dependency on oil,” said Moran in a statement. “This new report from Environment America highlights the importance of moving forward with cleaner, more fuel efficient cars.”
Cross noted that buying an electric car now has a positive environmental impact, even though the standards aren’t yet to the 54.5 mpg mark.
“Drivers do not have to wait until 2025 to reap the benefits of cleaner cars,” Cross said. “A bumper crop of fuel efficient cars have already started coming to the showroom floor.
Arlington County Commuter Services (ACCS) is bolstering its “Car-Free Diet” campaign with a new 4-5 minute long sketch comedy show.
Billed as the “#1 rated… sketch comedy show devoted to the Car-Free Diet in all of Arlington,” the show stars “Car-Free Matt,” the winner of last year’s second-annual Car-Free Diet Skeptics Challenge. Also appearing on the show are the remaining three Car-Free contestants from the past two years — Kyle, Todd and Ross — and Car-Free Matt’s girlfriend, Dana.
The show features amusing segments intended to convince skeptical commuters of the virtues of biking, walking or taking the bus instead of driving. By convincing residents to ditch their cars, ACCS (which receives most of its funding from federal and state grants) is hoping to alleviate some of the area’s traffic congestion and vehicle exhaust pollution.
Episode 1 of the Car-Free Diet Show can be seen above or on the show’s web site.