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A man absconded with thousands of dollars yesterday after swiping a bag of cash from an employee who was filling an ATM in Pentagon City.

The incident reportedly happened around 1:45 p.m. Wednesday at the Harris Teeter store at 900 Army Navy Drive, in the Pentagon Row shopping center.

“Upon arrival, it was determined the reporting party was filling an ATM with money when the unknown suspect approached and stole a bag containing an undisclosed amount of cash,” Arlington County police said today in a crime report. “The suspect then fled the scene on foot.”

An armored truck could be seen parked outside of the store as an ARLnow photographer arrived on scene. Initial reports suggest that the suspect may have stolen tens of thousands of dollars simply by running off with the cash without any use or threat of force.

“There was no force reported,” ACPD spokeswoman Ashley Savage tells ARLnow. “The incident is a larceny.”

The suspect was described as a teen or man in his early 20s. Police searched the area but did not locate him.

“The suspect is described as a Black male in his late teens to early 20s with a slim build,” said the crime report. “He was wearing dark gray pants, a black long sleeve shirt and carrying a backpack. The investigation is ongoing.”

Morning Notes

A group of birds sits on power lines along Langston Blvd (staff photo by Jay Westcott)

Local Leaders Push for More Boosters — “A good number of Arlington residents seem to be turning a blind eye and/or deaf ear to governmental drumbeats for COVID booster shots. Only one in three adults in the county has receive the extra shots, County Manager Mark Schwartz told County Board members on Jan. 25. ‘We need to do better,’ the manager said.” [Sun Gazette]

New Trail Proposed — From Arlington Transportation Commission Chair Chris Slatt: “Kenmore Middle School and Carlin Springs Elementary school have a sustainable access problem… One project that could start improving this situation is what Sustainable Mobility for Arlington County calls the ‘Kenmore Connector Trail’ — a walking & biking trail on the west side of Carlin Springs Road that could connect Kenmore & Carlin Springs across Arlington Blvd to the W&OD Trail.” [Chris Slatt]

APS Trying Out New Menu Items — “Despite ongoing concerns about supply-chain problems, the Arlington school system is getting creative in providing new meal options for students. New on the menu for the winter cycle are fruit smoothies for breakfast and spinach-and-chicken empanadas, chicken-and-vegetable dumplings and cheesy chicken pasta for lunch.” [Sun Gazette]

New ATMs at DCA — From Reagan National Airport: “We are in the process of transitioning to a new ATM provider and all ATMs have been removed from the airport. We are working with the new provider to install new ATMs as soon as possible. We appreciate your patience during this transition!” [Twitter]

Early Closure for ANC — “Due to incoming inclement weather, Arlington National Cemetery will close early on Friday, January 28, at 3 pm and will have a delayed opening on Saturday, January 29, until 10 am. Funeral services will not be impacted and will continue as scheduled.” [Twitter]

It’s Friday — On today’s snow threat: “Evening computer models have bumped up snowfall totals in the immediate area and now suggest 1 to 3 inches may be more likely than a coating to 2 inches. Of particular note, they suggest we may have a period of steadier snow around the Friday evening commute as temperatures fall back toward freezing. This could mean slick roads. You may want to think about coming home early (by 3 or 4 p.m.) on Friday or working at home if possible.” [Capital Weather Gang, Twitter]

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Bitcoin has surfed to an all-time high amid the pandemic, and there’s at least five Bitcoin ATM machines in Arlington where you can buy the cryptocurrency.

One Bitcoin is currently worth nearly $27,000, just down from a recent peak, but still a massive increase as its value has more than tripled over the past year.

Locally, Bitcoin’s rise has been further fueled by a recent $650 million investment from Tysons-based firm MicroStrategy.

“The new pandemic crisis just sped things up,” local Bitcoin investor Raj Paladugu told ARLnow. “It could take money from the gold market in just three years, instead of the five years that was forecasted.”

Bitcoin ATMs — also known as BTMs — have been in Arlington since 2015.

At one location, the Bitcoin Depot ATM at the Pentagon City mall (1100 S. Hayes Street), customers can also buy the cryptocurrencies Litecoin and Ethereum, according to the company’s website.

Other publicly-listed BTM locations in Arlington include:

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Two Florida residents have been arrested after police say they were seen using a card “skimming” device on an ATM machine in Shirlington.

Gheorghe Cosmin-Dacian and Cristian Roman, both 35 years old, were arrested during a subsequent traffic stop and now face multiple charges.

More from an Arlington County Police Department crime report:

FRAUD (Significant), 2018-04100224, 2700 block of S. Quincy Street. On April 10, police were conducting a follow-up investigation after a skimming device had been located on an ATM in the 2700 block of S. Quincy Street earlier that day. Officers observed one of the suspects, who had been previously captured on surveillance, approach the ATM multiple times. The suspect then fled the scene in an awaiting vehicle. Officers conducted a traffic stop on the vehicle and the two occupants were taken into custody. Gheorghe Cosmin-Dacian, 35, and Cristian Nicola Roman, 35, both of Jacksonville, Florida were arrested and charged with identity theft, credit card theft, credit card forgery and unlawful use of payment card scanning devices. The suspects were held without bond.

Update at 6:40 p.m. — The photo above has been corrected. Police inadvertently sent a photo of a different individual with the same name as one of the suspects.

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Arlington County Police said they recovered a “skimmer” device designed to steal credit and debit card information from a Clarendon ATM late last week.

ACPD said officers responded to the 3000 block of Wilson Blvd just after 11 a.m. on Friday, January 12 after hearing reports of the device. Police determined that it was installed at some point between the previous afternoon and that morning.

Police did not specify which ATM the device was installed at. That block is home to a BB&T bank branch and ATM.

The skimmers have recently been discovered inside pumps at local gas stations, while AAA warned of a spate of the devices across the region last year.

In a tweet, ACPD warned ATM users to monitor their bank statements and report any activity that appears to be fraudulent.

More from an ACPD crime report:

SUSPICIOUS CIRCUMSTANCES (Significant), 2018-01120112, 3000 block of Wilson Boulevard. At approximately 11:11 a.m. on January 12, police responded to the area for the report of a skimming device located inside an ATM. Upon arrival, it was determined that between 4:30 p.m. on January 11 and 10:30 a.m. on January 12, an unknown suspect placed the device inside the machine. There is no suspect description. The investigation is ongoing.

Photo via Google Maps.

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Bitcoin ATM at Spice on WilsonVirtual ATM LLC has launched the first Bitcoin ATM at the Spice on Wilson restaurant (3033 Wilson Blvd.) in Arlington.

The Bitcoin ATM helps consumers buy Bitcoin using cash. Once the consumer deposits cash, the machine can either print out a paper wallet or scan your existing digital wallet on your cell phone to transfer the Bitcoin.

So what is a Bitcoin?

Bitcoin is a new digital currency, similar to money but easier to use. It allows you to send money to anyone, at anytime and anywhere for fractions of a penny. Bitcoin is fast, has little or no fees for the merchant and it’s secure.

Consumers no longer have to worry about their data getting stolen — Bitcoin transactions are private and don’t require you to exchange any personal information like you do with credit cards, and merchants love it because they don’t have to pay credit card fees. Have a family member across the world that needs money? Just send them Bitcoin and they will have it in less than a second.

Merchants who currently accept it are Microsoft, Overstock, Dell computers, Expedia and others. Since the technology is relatively new, most brick and mortar merchants don’t accept it yet.

The goal is to bring Bitcoin to main street, and the Bitcoin ATM is the beginning of introducing people to the virtual world.

“I chose Spice on Wilson because of the location and the amazing food,” said John McKee, founder of Virtual ATM LLC. “Try their fish tacos!”

For more information, email: [email protected]

The preceding post was written and sponsored by Virtual ATM LLC.

(Updated at 12:05 p.m.) The phrase “bank fees” used to describe a commonly-accepted practice. But in the past few months, rising fees have stoked consumer frustration. As a result, fed up customers have been abandoning big banks, and credit unions — including those located in Arlington — are reaping the rewards.

During the past year, and particularly the past two months, local credit unions have experienced rapid growth. Navy Federal Credit Union, for instance, experienced a 38 percent year-over-year jump in new members in October. Navy Federal has experienced a 23 percent increase in new customers in 2011, compared to its typical annual growth of 7 percent.

The 17,000 member Arlington Community Federal Credit Union, meanwhile, saw a 34 percent increase in new customers from September to October, in addition to a 100 percent increase in new online checking accounts during the same period.

(Disclosure: Arlington Community Federal Credit Union is an ARLnow.com advertiser.)

Although some banks have since rescinded new debit card fees and other banking charges, a grassroots movement toward credit unions and away from big banks seems to be taking hold. It even prompted the creation of Bank Transfer Day, which encouraged people to move their money to credit unions on November 5.

“People are expressing frustration over being treated like a number and not a member,” said Patty Briotta, public relations manager for the Clarendon-based National Association of Federal Credit Unions (NAFCU). “When some banks recalled their debit fees, it was too little, too late.”

Arlington Community Federal Credit Union CEO Brenda Turner said that in addition to accruing new applications, there has been an increase in customers who already held an account suddenly wanting to add another one.

“We could tell they were angry with the big banks because they wanted to move everything,” Turner said. “A lot of times people come in and just want an auto loan because we have great rates. But they wanted to completely clear out of the big banks and come over.”

Previously, many new members were attracted to credit unions due to features like competitive interest rates. Now, those who answered a NAFCU survey listed fees (24 percent) and general dissatisfaction (51 percent) as reasons for making the switch.

“During this challenging financial time, people want to leverage all of their resources and opportunities,” Briotta said. “You’re the boss at a credit union because it’s member-owned and a not-for-profit financial institution.”

Navy Federal Credit Union spokesperson Donovan Fox agreed, adding: “All of our members have a vote and everything that we do is for the benefit of our members. We’re always trying to increase our services, making them better for our members.”

NAFCU has recently ramped up promotion of CUlookup.com, a website it created to help consumers locate local credit unions. The site, which also lists the membership criteria of individual credit unions, has experienced explosive growth. This October saw a 700% year-over-year increase in web traffic this year, according to Briotta.

Although the rush will likely level off, right now Arlington’s credit unions are reveling in the business boom.

“It’s a great deal,” Turner said. “It’s unfortunate that it hasn’t been as widely known the convenience that credit unions offer.”

Said Briotta: “This is an example of Main Street winning over Wall Street.”

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