(Updated at 3:35 p.m.) The Arlington County Police Department apprehended three bike theft suspects in Ballston this afternoon (Friday).
The suspects were caught with a bicycle that had been reported stolen this morning, according to Lt. Dan Murphy, who heads the ACPD’s property theft division. Around 12:30 p.m., police pulled over a minivan with four suspects inside. One female suspect ran away from police and is still at large. The other three were handcuffed and taken into custody, although one managed to flee from the van before police caught and detained him.
“Recognizing the larceny of bikes is an ongoing problem,” Murphy told ARLnow.com at the scene. “We’ve developed plans to prevent bike theft, including plainclothes surveillance, GPS tracking and bicycle registration.”
In total, nine police vehicles responded to the call, at the corner of Wilson Blvd and N. Randolph Street in front of Pizza Autentica. Murphy said the large response, which included plainclothes officers, was warranted because of the number of suspects in the minivan, which was later towed from the scene. The van had chemicals and cleaning supplies in it, leading onlookers to question whether it was, as one put it “a rolling meth lab,” but Murphy said the individuals were only suspected of bike theft.
Murphy couldn’t release information about the suspects, either the ones in custody or the one at large. He did say, however, that this wasn’t the only bike theft bust this week. ACPD officers arrested an alleged bike thief who had three stolen bikes in his possession on Wednesday.
To help increase the likelihood that a stolen bike is returned, cyclists are encouraged to register their bike with the police, a free service for residents and non-residents who cycle in Arlington.
The stolen bike is expected to be returned to its owner, a 10-year-old girl who had received it as a Christmas gift, according to Murphy.
When Arlington County Police Lt. Heather Hurlock returned from a vacation last week, she found more than 70 messages from residents asking to register their bicycles.
This is the high demand that Hurlock — a crime prevention specialist with the county and the head of the bicycle theft program — said she’s seen since she launched the county’s bicycle registration program 15 years ago. ACPD registers an average 1,000 bikes every year, Hurlock told ARLnow Tuesday morning.
Hurlock said she gets satisfaction in returning stolen bikes to their owners, who sometimes have been missing the cycles for years.
“One time, I received a call from Alexandria about a recovered, stolen bike with an Arlington decal on it,” she said Tuesday morning. “I called the owner it was registered under and he had it stolen on his second day of eighth grade. The day I called him was his last day of college.”
Calls about the free registrations come from around the globe.
“At this point, I have bikes registered [from] all over the world,” Hurlock said. “I get calls from very strange places asking about their decal number after their bike was stolen.”
Hurlock is also in charge of recovering abandoned bikes. Every week, she patrols the county following up on tips about bicycles left unattended or locked to parking meters and lampposts for more than five days. After Hurlock leaves a note and waits two days, she impounds the bikes. After 60 days in county custody, the cycles are donated to Bikes for the World, an Arlington-based charity that gives repaired, used bicycles to needy people as close as Rockville and as far as Namibia and the Philippines.
If a cyclist can’t read the serial number on the bike to register it, Hurlock will engrave a new number.
To prevent theft, the police lieutenant recommended securing bikes using a sturdy U-lock and storing them in protected places.
Bike thefts from residential areas are up in Arlington County because residents leave their garage doors open with their bikes inside, Hurlock said. Overall bike thefts were down significantly in the first half of 2014, ACPD announced in May.
Two men allegedly stole cigarettes from the Clarendon CVS store early Monday morning and an employee chased after them. The employee’s suspect description helped police make two arrests shortly after.
From this week’s Arlington County crime report:
ROBBERY, 140804010, 3100 block of N. Wilson Boulevard. At approximately 5:25 am on August 4, two male subjects stole cigarettes from a CVS. An employee chased the subjects on foot and was able to identify them for arriving police officers. Ronald Richardson, 53, of Washington D.C. was arrested and charged with robbery and possession of stolen goods with the intent to sell. Melvin Bradshaw, 47, of Washington D.C. was arrested and charged with robbery, possession of stolen goods with the intent to sell, and carrying a concealed weapon.
The rest of this week’s crime report, after the jump. All named suspects are considered innocent until proven guilty.
The Arlington County Police Department announced yesterday that 74 bicycles have been reported stolen this year, compared with 124 at this same point last year.
The report comes less than a year after ACPD declared bike thefts to be at an “all-time high,” and just seven months after one bike thief was sentenced to 12 years in prison in the middle of a bicycle thief crackdown.
Despite the drop in reported thefts, ACPD says it still is “aggressively working to reduce the number of incidents,” but offered some tips on ways to avoid getting your bike stolen.
From Arlington County police:
- Do NOT leave bikes unsecured on your lawn, porch or driveway.
- Always lock your bike’s frame and wheels with a high quality U-Lock to a solid, fixed object. Cables don’t provide sufficient security to protect your bike.
- If stored in a storage locker, secure your bike to an immovable object.
- Take photos of your bike and any distinguishing features, to include the serial number and keep them on file.
- Work with your Homeowner’s Association or property management to improve security for your bike storage area by adding locked cages and cameras.
- If you are a victim of bicycle theft, file a police report.
- If you notice suspicious behavior, call the police immediately.
- Register your bike for FREE with the Arlington County Police Department. Visit www.police.arlingtonva.us and go to Online Services and click on Register Your Bike. Within approximately seven days you will receive an ACPD decal which, when visible, may be a deterrent to theft.
We strongly encourage residents to register the serial number of their bicycles for free as this is used for identification purposes if stolen and increases the chances it will be returned. If you cannot read your serial number and wish to register your bike, the Arlington County Police Department Crime Prevention Unit will assist you with engraving a number on the frame. Call 703-228-4057 to make arrangements.
Measles Patient Traipsed Around Arlington — Virginia health officials have released a list of businesses patronized by a person who has since been confirmed to have a case of measles. Three North Arlington businesses are on the list. Officials are trying to determine who might have been exposed to the disease. [Virginia Department of Health]
Beyer Calls for Carbon Tax — Democratic congressional candidate Don Beyer has released a third TV ad, in which he addresses the issue of climate change and calls for the imposition of a carbon tax. Beyer is the owner of several local car dealerships. [Washington Post]
ACPD Detective Recognized — An Arlington County police detective has been honored by Virginia State Police for his role in fighting auto theft. Detective Scott Whalin’s investigation of the theft of a Dodge Charger from Pentagon City mall resulted in the arrest of two suspects whose fingerprints were allegedly found on numerous other stolen vehicles. A total of 65 cases were closed as a result of Whalin’s two arrests. [Arlington County]
Flickr pool photo by Cameron Manuel
Thieves stole the airbags from a number of cars parked in Fairlington early Tuesday morning.
Victims told NBC 4 that they woke up to find their car hoods open and their airbags missing. From this week’s Arlington County crime report:
GRAND LARCENY FROM AUTO (series), 140408013, 3000 block of S. Columbus Street. On April 8 at 5:46am, it was reported that multiple vehicles in the Fairlington area were broken into by an unknown subject(s) and airbags were stolen. There is no suspect(s) description and the investigation is ongoing.
Also on Tuesday, a cab driver was allegedly robbed at gunpoint in the Rosslyn area.
ROBBERY, 140408063, 1800 block of N. Clarendon Boulevard. On April 8 at 7:06pm, a taxi cab driver reported he was robbed at gunpoint by a passenger. The suspect later identified as Sami Troy Traboulsi, 28, of Alexandria, VA was taken into custody and charged with robbery.
The rest of the crime report, after the jump. All named suspects are considered innocent until proven guilty.
On Monday afternoon, an alleged thief stole two items from the Clarendon Apple Store and fled the scene in a customized BMW coupe.
From this week’s Arlington County crime report:
ROBBERY, 140324046, 2700 block of N. Clarendon Boulevard. On March 24 at 4:10pm, an unknown suspect fled the Apple Store with two items without paying. He fled the scene in a early nineties model dark blue BMW coupe, with a slightly faded bumper and lower body kit. The suspect is described as a Hispanic male, approximately 35 years old, and was wearing blue jeans, a light grey hooded sweatshirt with a black jacket on top and tan Timberland boots at the time of the incident.
Early Saturday morning, two men at Darna Lounge (946 N. Jackson Street), near Clarendon, allegedly flashed badges and claimed to be police officers.
IMPERSONATING A POLICE OFFICER, 140322003, 900 block of N. Jackson Street. On March 22 at 12:43am, police responded to a report of two bar patrons displaying badges and claiming to be officers. Samuel Wesley Aples, 40, of Alexandria, VA was charged with impersonating a police officer and private security violations. He was held on a $5000 bond. Austin James Jones III, 30, of Woodbridge, VA was charged with private security violations and was released. Both were banned from the establishment.
The rest of the crime report, after the jump. All named suspects are considered innocent until proven guilty.
The Arlington Soccer Association’s club practices at the turf by Gunston Middle School (2700 S. Lang Street) have been targeted by thieves last week.
The ASA sent an email to soccer parents Sunday night alerting them that thieves had stolen items, including smartphones, from the fields while the teams were practicing. The first incidents of theft happened on Tuesday, according to the email, with soccer balls, phones and several travel bags taken.
“In response to the first incidents on Tuesday, ASA issued guidelines for personal property management to our travel team coaches and team managers that included specific suggestions to mitigate potential issues at Gunston and Virginia Highlands [Park],” the email states. “Despite this, issues continued several times during the week.”
One witness to a theft Tuesday night said it was perpetrated by a 15 year-old.
“A 15 year old youth grabbed two soccer backpacks and started running,” said the witness, who declined to be identified. “Fortunately, bystanders chased and caught the thief and held him until the police arrived. Since each backpack contained a smartphone, the police told us that he would be charged with attempted grand larceny.”
ASA said the Arlington County Police Department has agreed to station more officers, both on foot and in vehicles, at the fields during practice. The ASA has also issued guidelines to its players that include the best place to leave bags during practice at Gunston — behind the goal closest to the school — and a request for each team to provide two volunteers to help supervise practice.
Last weekend a drunk and disorderly man entered a pizza shop on Columbia Pike and allegedly slapped a man and stole his Bluetooth earpiece.
From this week’s Arlington County crime report:
ROBBERY, 140126003, 3200 block of S. Columbia Pike. On January 26 at approximately 12:19am, police responded to a report of a disorderly subject at a pizza shop. The suspect allegedly slapped a victim in the face and grabbed the victim’s Bluetooth earpiece out of his ear and fled the scene. The suspect is described as a white male in his early to mid thirties. He is approximately 6’0” in height and around 200 pounds with a brown buzz cut. At the time of the incident the suspect was wearing a blue sweater and blue jeans. The investigation is ongoing.
The rest of the crime report, after the jump. All named suspected are considered innocent until proven guilty.
The Arlington County Police Department has issued its crime report for the two weeks ending Dec. 31.
A few days before Christmas, some Grinch stole a fruit basket (and a gift card) from a Virginia Square apartment mail room.
BURGLARY, 131219008, 3500 block of N. Washington Boulevard. At 7:30 am on December 19, a victim noticed several packages of his had been opened in an apartment mail room. A fruit basket and Amazon gift card were stolen. There is no suspect(s) description.
The day after Christmas, with returns and post-holiday shopping in full swing, a man allegedly used his cell phone to film a woman in a dressing room.
PEEPING TOM, 131226018, unit block of S. Glebe Road. At 1:24 pm on December 26, a 24 year-old female victim reported a suspect attempted to film her with his phone as she was changing in the dressing room. The suspect fled the scene when the victim notified a store employee. The suspect is described as a Middle Eastern male in his 30’s, approximately 5’10” tall and 190 lbs with a goatee. He was wearing a dark and light blue sweater, jeans and brown shoes at the time of the incident.
The rest of the crime report, after the jump. All names suspects are considered innocent until proven guilty in court.
Police say 20-year-old D.C. resident John Wiley and an unnamed juvenile male were arrested around 9:40 p.m. after they stole a bike from the station. One of the suspects had a set of wire cutters in a backpack, police said. Together, the suspects were charged with Grand Larceny and Possession of Burglarious Tools.
Arlington County Police have been cracking down on bike thefts recently, after declaring over the summer that such thefts were at an all-time high. Last week, the police department announced that a 42-year-old repeat offender named Michael Cullen had received a whopping 12-year jail sentence for a series of bike thefts.
Michael Cullen, of no fixed address, received a 12-year jail sentence for the thefts. He pleaded guilty to eight counts of grand larceny with the intent to sell, and one count of possession of burglarious tools. Cullen has the ability to suspend four years of his sentence if full restitution is paid to his victims.
“In Arlington, we have the ability to prosecute all types of cases,” said Arlington County Commonwealth’s Attorney Theo Stamos. “Protecting the property of residents is of the utmost importance and thieves such as Michael Cullen will be prosecuted to the fullest.”
Because recent data compiled by the police department indicated bike thefts are at an all-time high, the Arlington County Police Department’s Burglary/Larceny Unit spearheaded a regional police cooperation to reduce the amount of bicycle thefts and to identify suspects. An increase in patrols and surveillance, along with hours of police detective work, led to a number of arrests.
Police say the following individuals have been arrested, in addition to Michael Cullen, as part of the regional bike theft crackdown:
- “Aldrick Johnson was observed on video attempting to break into an apartment building. Security called police and Mr. Johnson was apprehended. He pled guilty to possession of burglarious tools and burglary and received a sentence of four years with three years suspended.”
- “Ositafimma Emegbuism was Aldrick Johnson’s co-defendant. Mr. Emegbuism pled guilty to unlawful entry and received 6 months.”
- “John Sears was apprehended after a citizen observed him tampering with a bicycle inside of a parking garage. Police located Sears with a stolen bicycle in his possession not far from the incident. The bicycle had a cut cable lock and the rear tire was partially removed. Warrants for possession of burglarious tools, possession of drug paraphernalia, providing false ID to law enforcement, attempted grand larceny, destruction of property, and credit card theft were obtained.”
- “Irvin Coleman was identified as a suspect in multiple bike larcenies in Arlington, Fairfax, and Alexandria after pawning multiple bikes on separate occasions. Warrants were obtained for Coleman for his involvement in the theft/pawning of bicycles from Ballston Mall. Coleman avoided apprehension for some time but was eventually arrested. Coleman is currently held in Fairfax on no bond. His preliminary hearing for his Arlington charge, grand larceny with intent to sell, is currently set for October 24, 2013.”
- “Howard Montgomery was stopped after an officer observed him riding one bike while rolling a second beside him. He admitted that the bikes did not belong to him. After further investigation, it was determined that these bikes were stolen from a secured bike cage in an apartment building. Montgomery is to be indicted on charges of possession of burglarious tools, grand larceny and grand larceny with intent to sell.”
- “Five juveniles involved with bike thefts from Thomas Jefferson Middle School have been identified and adjudicated. A pre-sentence investigation was ordered for all suspects. Four of the defendants were sentenced. One juvenile is still pending.”
In some of the cases, the bicycles were recovered and returned to their rightful owners. Police continue to ask people to register their bikes for this very reason.
“We encourage people to register their bikes because if there is a bike recovered, then it’s not a long process to figure out who it belongs to,” said police spokesman Dustin Sternbeck.
Cyclists can register bikes online, and will receive a registration decal to place on the bike. Owners should also take a photo of their bicycle and record the serial number and any distinguishing features it may have.
Anyone who has had a bicycle stolen or who notices suspicious behavior around bike racks should call the Arlington County Police Department non-emergency number at 703-558-2222.
Metro Keys Stolen from Arlington Fire Truck — Two men wearing masks and black clothing stole keys to secure areas of the Metro system from an unattended Arlington County fire truck last week. The theft happened during a medical call in Crystal City, and the thieves also stole a forcible entry tool called a Hydra Ram. [NBC Washington]
New Wakefield Aquatics Center Debuts — A ribbon cutting ceremony was held for the new aquatics center at Wakefield High School on Sunday. The center is expected to draw a larger crowd than the aging, existing Wakefield aquatics facility it replaces. The cost of entry is up to $5.50 per day for Arlington residents. [Sun Gazette]
Ft. Myer Heights Playground Opening Imminent — A new playground in Ft. Myer Heights, with slides made to look like hollowed-out logs, is set to open as soon as Wednesday. The playground also features a sand pit and picnic benches. [Ode Street Tribune]
New Poll Shows McAuliffe With Lead in Gov. Race — Democrat Terry McAuliffe is leading Republican Ken Cuccinelli 47-39 among likely votes in the Virginia governor’s race, according to a new Washington Post poll. Cuccinelli had a 10 point lead in a poll conducted this spring. [Washington Post]
Lt. Gov. Debate in Arlington Tonight — The candidates for Virginia lieutenant governor — Republican E.W. Jackson and Democrat Ralph Northam — will face off in a live debate in Arlington tonight. The 90-minute debate will take place at 7:00 p.m. at George Mason University’s Founders Hall Auditorium in Virginia Square. [George Mason University]
Flickr pool photo by ddimick
Howard Montgomery, 47, of no fixed address, was spotted just before 3:00 a.m. last Thursday riding a bicycle and carrying another alongside him, Arlington County Police said. When an officer questioned Montgomery, he tried to flee but was taken into custody “after a brief struggle,” according to the police report.
Montgomery, who was also in possession of “a power grinder with numerous blades,” admitted to stealing the Cannondale and Drossinger bikes, police said. He was arrested and charged with grand larceny, larceny with intent to sell, possession of burglarious tools and obstruction of justice.
The arrest comes after ACPD announced that bike thefts in Arlington had hit an all-time high.
The two bikes stolen were not registered with the the police department, making it more difficult to return them to their owners, according to ACPD spokesman Dustin Sternbeck.
Sternbeck said the area where Montgomery was arrested, around the 1600 block of S. Eads Street, is one of the “hot spots” for bicycle thefts around the county. Bicycle thefts tend to happen more frequently at commuter locations with lots of bike racks, he said.
While Montgomery confessed to stealing the two bikes, he did not admit to any prior crimes, said Sternbeck.
(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