(Updated at 2:50 p.m.) A group of robbers got away with $609,000 worth of Rolex watches in a smash and grab robbery at Pentagon City mall this morning.
According to police, four men wearing ski masks and gloves entered the Tourneau watch store, near the main S. Hayes Street entrance to the mall, around 10:30 a.m. The men smashed the front of a display case with a hammer, then grabbed 23 Rolex watches valued at $609,000, police said.
The men then fled, hopped in a getaway vehicle parked in front of the mall with an accomplice in the driver’s seat, and took off. The car was described as a charcoal gray, four-door sedan.
The entire robbery took less than 30 seconds, according to police.
No customers or employees were on the “floor” of the store at the time of the robbery. One employee who was cleaning the outside of the store yelled for someone to call police during the robbery. Five employees were in the back of the store, according to Arlington County Police spokesman Dustin Sternbeck.
The crime is similar to another smash and grab robbery at the mall last month — during which 27 rings worth approximately $128,000 were stolen — but police so far have not been able to determine a definitive connection.
Surveillance video of the robbery is expected to be released at some point. Still images from the video are provided below.
Pentagon City Mall Renovations — Coming on the heels of the news that Ballston Common Mall will be getting a revamp, the owners of Fashion Centre at Pentagon City announced plans to renovate that mall as well. Although no formal plan has been revealed, changes could include adding office space or apartments. Renovations for the 24-year-old mall would be paid for out of a pot of about $1 billion that Simon Property Group Inc. has set aside for updating its properties. [Washington Business Journal]
Fire Hydrant Color Meaning — Arlington doesn’t have one standard color for fire hydrants; instead, the county adopted a coloring system in the 1990s indicating the flow of water at each particular hydrant. Blue hydrants have water flow above 1,500 gallons per minute (gpm), green is between 1,000 and 1,500 gpm, orange is 500 to 1,000 gpm and red is below 500 gpm. The color scheme allows firefighters to quickly determine if one hydrant will be enough to fight a fire, or if a water relay system is necessary. [Washington Post]
More Signs Requested for Westover Market — Organizers of the Westover Market believe a drop in attendance occurred for the new winter market because of the county’s sign restrictions. There has been a drop of up to 90 percent, according to organizers, and they believe the attendance would be greater if they were allowed to post more signs advertising the market. The County Board asked County Manager Barbara Donnellan to investigate the issue. [Sun Gazette]
Library Hosts Croatian Ambassador — The Central Library (1015 N. Quincy Street) will host a celebration of Croatia tonight featuring music, food, cultural displays and a visit from Croatian Ambassador Joško Paro. The event begins at 7:00 p.m. [Arlington Public Library]
Hybrid Tax Petition — Virginia Senator Adam Ebbin and Delegate Scott Surovell launched a petition to get Gov. Bob McDonnell to eliminate the so-called hybrid tax in the newly passed transportation bill. Under the bill, drivers of hybrid vehicles would have to pay a $100 fee each year. McDonnell said he’d review that portion of the bill. [NBC 4]
The Arlington County Police Department has released surveillance footage of today’s smash-and-grab robbery at the Zales jewelry store in the Pentagon City mall.
The video shows four men entering the store, their faces covered by hoods and masks. They then use hammers to smash a glass jewelry case, quickly grab the merchandise, and flee the store. Police say the men made a clean getaway with 27 rings worth $128,000.
Anyone with information about the suspects is encouraged to contact Det. Paula Brockenborough at 703-228-4241 or via email at firstname.lastname@example.org. Information can also be reported anonymously to Arlington County Crime Solvers at 866-411-TIPS (8477).
Update at 5:10 p.m. — Police have released surveillance video of the robbery.
A group of men armed with hammers smashed a jewelry store display counter at the Pentagon City mall and fled with handfuls of jewelry.
The robbery took place around 11:00 a.m. at the Zales store in the Fashion Centre at Pentagon City.
Four younger adult men — described as three black males and one white male — entered the store wearing jeans and black hoodies over their face, according to Arlington County police spokesman Dustin Sternbeck. Two of the men smashed the glass counters with hammers and “grabbed as much as they could,” Sternbeck said.
The men then ran to a car in the nearby parking garage, where a getaway driver was waiting. The car — a red Nissan sedan — smashed through a parking gate and drove off, according to Sternbeck. Police have so far been unable to locate the vehicle or the suspects.
All told, the men stole 27 rings, worth approximately $128,000 — just in time for Valentine’s Day. Police are reviewing surveillance footage as part of their investigation.
School Enrollment Surging – Enrollment in Arlington Public Schools is now projected to increase from 22,657 pre-K to 12th grade students today to 30,777 students by the 2023-24 school year. The projections suggest that enrollment will near 27,000 by the 2017-18 school year, breaking the previous record for APS enrollment. [Sun Gazette]
Ukrainian Mayor Presents Library With Sculpture – Viktor Anushkevychus, the mayor of Ivano-Frankivsk, Arlington’s sister city in Ukraine, presented Arlington Central Library with a metal sculpture of a tree yesterday. [Arlington Public Library]
Libby Garvey Looking for New Assistant — Arlington County Board member Libby Garvey is seeking a new aide in the County Board office, after her previous aide left for a new position in the county. “If you know of anyone who might be interested in the position, please encourage them to check out the announcement and apply,” she said in a recent email to supporters. The full-time job pays between $39,062 and $63,523, plus benefits. [Arlington County]
Model Bootcamp Coming to Pentagon City — A “bootcamp” for wanna-be models is coming to the Pentagon City mall on Saturday. From 11:00 a.m. to 5:00 pm, the Fashion Centre at Pentagon City will host a promotional event for “The Face,” a new modeling competition show on the Oxygen network. Participants will be put through a “casting session” that will include a short photo shoot; in the end, they’ll be emailed an animated GIF of photos from the shoot. [Oxygen]
On Thursday, Jan. 3, a man posing as a police detective entered two stores in the Pentagon City mall, flashed a badge and said he needed to seize a number of wristwatches as “evidence in a case,” according to ACPD. Store employees weren’t fooled, and they asked the man to leave the store. Then, they called the real police.
“The suspect is described as a black male, approximately 5’8” tall and 170 lbs,” according to an ACPD press release. “At the time of the incident he was wearing dark colored jeans, a gray jacket and a red and black plaid hat.”
“If anyone has information on the whereabouts of this individual, please contact Detective James Stone of the Arlington County Police Department’s Criminal Investigations Division at 703.228.4245 or at email@example.com. To report information anonymously, contact the Arlington County Crime Solvers at 866.411.TIPS (8477).”
Photo courtesy Arlington County Police Department
The Williams-Sonoma gourmet food and cookware store at Pentagon City mall is closing after this week.
The store’s last day in business will be Sunday, Jan. 20, according to a sign at the entrance. Until then, the store is offering display items for up to 50 percent off.
As of Saturday, Jan. 12 many of the store’s shelves — especially those that once contained sale items — were bare.
Streetcar Referendum Might Be Necessary — Arlington County might be forced to hold a bond referendum for the Columbia Pike streetcar if it’s unable to sell a certain type of revenue bond to partially fund the $250 million project. For now, the project is awaiting word on whether it will receive up to $75 million in federal funding. [Sun Gazette]
Higher-End Stores at Pentagon City Mall — The Fashion Centre at Pentagon City has undergone a transformation that brought higher-end “aspirational luxury” stores to the mall. Recent addition to the malls include Oakley, Sperry, Mezlan and Cole Haan. Among the stores that have recently left is Aeropostale, which was forced out by a Microsoft Store. [Washington Post]
‘Dooring’ Law Proposed in Richmond — A law has been proposed for the upcoming Virginia General Assembly session (which starts tomorrow) that would make a vehicle occupant liable in the event they open their car door in the path of a cyclist, causing an accident. Similar laws are already on the books in Maryland and D.C. [WTOP]
State Dept. Cancels Search for Lease in Rosslyn — The State Department’s Bureau of Diplomatic Security, based on Lynn Street in Rosslyn, has canceled a search for a new lease. The agency is now looking for a building to buy, raising the prospect that it may be looking to move into the District. [Washington Business Journal]
Flickr pool photo by Jkurl11
The auditions will take place at the mall from 11:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m. Previously only open to women, this latest round of tryouts are open to both men and women, between the ages of 18 and 27. A list of eligibility requirements and a required 100+ question application are both available via the DC50 website.
The auditions will be followed by a private screening for the new show The Carrie Diaries, a “prequel” to the hit HBO show Sex and the City. The screening will take place at 5:00 p.m.; interested viewers must register online.
A man robbed the Currency Exchange store at the Pentagon City mall on Chrismas Eve by implying that he had a weapon, according to police.
No weapon was seen, but the man was able to flee the scene after obtaining cash. From this week’s Arlington County crime report:
ARMED ROBBERY, 12/24/12, 1100 block of S. Hayes Street. At 2:42 pm on December 24, an unknown suspect robbed the Currency Exchange at Pentagon City Mall. The subject fled the scene on foot in the direction of the Metro. The subject is described as a black male, approximately 50 years old, 150 lbs, with a short beard. He was wearing a jean jacket over a black hooded sweatshirt and a black Nike hat at the time of the incident.
Also this week, a man was arrested and charged with indecent exposure after has was caught masturbating at the L.A. Fitness health club in Crystal City, according to police.
A gym patron walked into the sauna and witnessed the man mid-act, police said. According to Arlington County spokesman Dustin Sternbeck, the suspect began to “tussle” with the witness after he said he was going to alert the manager; no charges were filed as a result of the scuffle.
INDECENT EXPOSURE, 12/21/12, 3500 block of S. Clark Street. On December 21 at 9:21 am, a subject was seen masturbating inside the sauna of a gym. Morris Umansky,
63, of Arlington, VA, was charged with indecent exposure and released on a summons.
The rest of this week’s crime report, after the jump.
(Updated at 1:20 p.m.) Two new stores are coming to the Fashion Centre at Pentagon City, while another is closing at Pentagon Row.
A new Oakley store and a new Sperry store are both under construction on the second level of the shopping mall. The stores are directly adjacent to one another. Oakley is best known for its sunglasses, while Sperry is best known for its boat shoes. Oakley also sells clothing and Sperry sells other types of footwear.
Both stores are expected to open in time for Christmas shopping, with the Sperry store hoping to open around Dec. 7 and the Oakley store hoping to open around Dec. 14, according to a PR rep for the mall.
Lucy, an women’s activewear store, will be closing soon at Pentagon Row. A sign in the window advertises a 25 percent off sale at the store, while directing shoppers to other locations at Union Station in D.C. and Tysons Corner Center mall in Fairfax County.
Photo (right) courtesy Desiree Lomer-Clarke
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.
No Sandbag Distribution in Arlington — Contrary to some rumors, Arlington County is not distributing sandbags to residents concerned about flooding. “Arlington County, fortunately, does not have significant river front areas that are subject to flooding (e.g., Georgetown, Old Town),” Arlington County Director of Communications Diana Sun told ARLnow.com this morning.” She said that county staff is “focused on the highest priorities.”
Long Bridge Drive Flooded — Long Bridge Drive, near Crystal City, has flooded as a result of rain overnight and is being closed to traffic by police. The flood-prone road is the only street that leads to the parking lots for Long Bridge Park.
Pentagon City Mall Closed — Updated at 10:45 a.m. — The Fashion Centre at Pentagon City will be closed today (Monday) due to Hurricane Sandy. Ballston Common Mall will be closing at 2:00 p.m. [Facebook]
Artisphere’s Per-Visitor Subsidy — Based on its new Fiscal Year 2012 year-end report, Artisphere required a taxpayer subsidy equivalent to $41.85 for each of the cultural center’s 55,607 visitors over the course of a year. [Sun Gazette]
Cuccinelli May Investigate Moran Video — The State Board of Elections has asked Virginia Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli to investigate a video of Rep. Jim Moran’s son discussing possible voter fraud. Patrick Murray, Moran’s Republican challenger, said “we need to know that [our electoral process] has not been corrupted.” He also called on U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder to investigate the video. The Arlington County Police Department is currently investigating the video, as well. [Washington Post, Murray for Congress]
High School Football Update — Yorktown High School remains undefeated (9-0) following this weekend’s high school football action. Wakefield High School remains winless (0-9). Washington-Lee chalked up a victory over the weekend and is now 5-4. [Sun Gazette]
Everybody’s talking about Sandy, but another big arrival is coming to town soon: Santa.
Simon Malls says photos with Santa will begin two weeks from today, on Friday, Nov. 9, at the Fashion Centre at Pentagon City (1100 S. Hayes Street).
The Jolly Old Elf will be available for photos at Pentagon City mall through Christmas Eve, Dec. 24. He’ll also be present for a special holiday shopping night from 6:00 to 9:30 p.m. on Thursday, Nov. 15, and available for photos with pets (no exotic pets, please) from 6:00 to 8:00 p.m. Nov. 25 through Dec. 2.
St. Nick’s arrival in Arlington is a bit earlier than last year. His appearances at Pentagon City mall last year started on Nov. 12, 2011. No word on when Santa will be coming to Ballston Common Mall, but last year his first appearance in Ballston was scheduled for Black Friday, the day after Thanksgiving.
Police responded to the store, in the Pentagon City mall, around 5:45 p.m. after getting a call from Macy’s about two female shoplifters who were taken into custody by security officers. The women were accused of collectively trying to steal more than $600 worth of clothing.
When police arrived, both suspects claimed to have diplomatic immunity, according to Arlington County Police spokesman Dustin Sternbeck. After checking with the State Department, it was determined that one suspect, a 35-year-old woman, was indeed a diplomat from Jordan and had diplomatic immunity. She was released on a court summons, accused of trying to steal $205 worth of merchandise.
Sternbeck declined to release the name of the woman. The embassy of Jordan was contacted about the incident, he said.
The second suspect, identified as 48-year-old Entaser Alsmady, did not have diplomatic immunity and was charged with grand larceny, according to Sternbeck. Alsmady is accused of trying to steal $427 worth of merchandise. She is currently being held in the Arlington County jail, Sternbeck said.
Alleged crimes by individuals with diplomatic immunity are not unheard of in Arlington. Sternbeck said he could recall at least one other diplomat accused of a crime in the past year.