Arlington, VA

Arlington is experiencing a rash of car-related crimes, with three separate theft sprees listed in today’s local crime report.

A man was arrested early Friday morning after security at the Pentagon City mall allegedly saw him break into three unlocked vehicles and try to break into two others. The suspect, who was not named, is expected to be charged with larceny from auto.

Around 7 a.m. Friday morning, another series of auto crimes was reported, this time along Glebe Road just south of Lee Highway. Someone smashed the windows of eight vehicles and stole airbags from seven of them, according to Arlington County police.

Around 10 a.m. Friday, police say they were dispatched to the Aurora Highlands neighborhood for a report of multiple vehicles being stolen. They found three cars had been stolen overnight, including a BMW, a Nissan and a Honda.

Arlington County police warned residents last week to lock their car doors and not leave keys in the car, in response to at least 31 cars being stolen in July. The county has also seen multiple carjackings over the past couple of months. Auto crimes are rising in Arlington, according to the latest ACPD annual report.

More on the most recent thefts, from today’s crime report:

LARCENY FROM AUTO (series), 2020-07310016, 800 block of Army Navy Drive. At approximately 1:25 a.m. on July 31, police were dispatched to the report of a tampering with auto in progress. Arriving officers located an individual matching the description provided by security and detained him without incident. The investigation determined that mall security observed the suspect enter approximately three unlocked vehicles and attempt to enter two other locked vehicles unsuccessfully. Charges are pending for the suspect.

LARCENY FROM AUTO (series),  2020-07310042, 2100 block of N. Glebe Road. At approximately 7:09 a.m. on July 31, police were dispatched to the report of a larceny from auto. Upon arrival, it was determined that between approximately 11:30 p.m. on July 30 and 6:45 a.m. on July 31, an unknown suspect(s) smashed the windows to eight vehicles and stole the airbags from seven of those vehicles. The targeted vehicles were all Honda models. There are no suspect(s) descriptions. The investigation is ongoing.

GRAND LARCENY AUTO (series), 2020-07310058/07310087, 600 block of 29th Road S./2300 block of S. Inge Street. At approximately 10:06 a.m. on July 31, police were dispatched to the report of multiple vehicles stolen. Upon arrival, it was determined that approximately 3 vehicles were stolen from the area overnight. The vehicles are described as: VA VKN8674, 2016 Honda Accord, Brown; VA ULY5206, 2016 BMW 428i, Gray; and VA UJT9855, 2020 Nissan Armada, Beige. There are no suspect descriptions. The investigation is ongoing.

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This weekend, Calvary United Methodist Church in Aurora Highlands is holding a “Stuff the Truck” donation event to collect food for the Chirilagua neighborhood in Alexandria.

The community — also known as Arlandria — has faced disproportionately high numbers of COVID-19 positive patients, as have Latino and Hispanic communities in Arlington and throughout the region.

Local nonprofits have worked to get food and other emergency supplies to hard-hit Chirilagua.

“Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, many in the Chirilagua neighborhood are experiencing hardship from job loss, sickness, and food insecurity,” Calvary UMC said in a media advisory. “Recent data revealed that over 40% of Chirilagua residents are unemployed and, in mid-May, over 55% of COVID tests taken by community members living in Chirilagua were positive.”

This Saturday, June 6, Calvalry UMC is hosting a donation event at the church (2315 S. Grant Street) from 11 a.m.-1 p.m. to fill a 20-foot truck with items most needed by Chirilagua residents and families.

“To participate, donors can come to Calvary UMC and bring donated food and supplies to place in the truck,” the church said. “Items needed most are shelf-stable foods such as rice, beans, canned food and cornflour.”

The event is the latest in a series of fundraisers and food drives for the church to support the Chirilagua community. So far, the church says it has raised $24,000 of its $25,000 goal. The church plans to make an additional $15,000 pledge to bring the total to at least $40,000, the church said.

“Donors wishing to make a financial contribution to MISSION:COVID can donate at the event or through the Calmeth.org website,” the church said, “or text GIVE to 703-936-2684 and select MISSION:COVID from the menu.”

Staff photo by James Cullum

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Those who want to see Arlington close lanes or whole streets during the pandemic will have to keep waiting.

County officials say they don’t have the resources to close lanes  in order to create extra space for social distancing among cyclists and pedestrians.

“Due to the many challenges involved, there are no plans at this time to open/close vehicular traffic lanes for walkers and bikers,” Arlington County spokeswoman Jennifer K. Smith tells ARLnow.

Some — including ARLnow columnists — have been pushing for such closures, with vehicle traffic down and more people trying to get out of the house for outdoor recreation.

From WAMU last month:

Local governments in Denver, Minneapolis, Philadelphia and other cities around the world have made more space for people, by taking away a lane of roads that have seen declining vehicle traffic or closing some roads altogether.

In D.C., about 700 people signed a letter requesting some lane closures to make larger sidewalks, turn some streets into “local traffic only” and open streets parallel to trail networks. […]

On Friday, Mayor Muriel Bowser shot down the idea on the Kojo Nnamdi show saying, “I don’t want to send the message to people to go out and have a festival.”

A few days later, Bowser announced the closure of a portion of Beach Drive in Rock Creek Park, along with two other parkways.

In Arlington, the neighboring Aurora Highlands and Crystal City civic associations have made specific lane closure recommendations to the County Board, calling for lanes along S. Hayes Street, S. Joyce Street, 12th Street S. and Potomac Avenue to be blocked off.

“Local residents are at risk of coronavirus exposure while being outdoors because of limited space for essential social distancing,” Aurora Highlands Civic Association President Scott Miles wrote in an email last week. “Bike lanes are limited and sidewalks are too narrow to keep a safe distance from the crowds of fellow travelers. Meanwhile vehicular traffic is low, and street parking is underused as most offices and non-essential retail are closed.”

The two civic associations recommended “a specific network of connected streets that are relatively flat and straight, creating better visibility for everyone and easier travel for all pedestrians, including those with disabilities,” he added.

In an online town hall this past Friday, however, Arlington County Police Chief M. Jay Farr said the police department doesn’t have the “thousands” of traffic cones and barriers, not to mention the extra staffing, to create and enforce temporary pedestrian zones on local streets.

He said road closures might look easy during special events, but those events are planned well in advance, are for a short period of time, and require a “tremendous amount of resources and assets… to keep the roads safe.”

“It looks like closing the road is really not going to be that complex the thing, however I just wanted to remind everybody that when we start to look at any road closure there’s a number of factors that go into it,” including things like parking and access to buildings, he said.

“We have many businesses that are dependent upon the conversion of some of our parking to pick up in drop-off spots,” Farr continued. “Most of the places that I’ve seen identified [for closures] also include a number of avenues in and out of apartment buildings or in and out of somebody’s home.”

More from the town hall:

Photo courtesy Aurora Highlands Civic Association

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Arlington residents in and around Crystal City will be able to make food donations at three drop-off points Saturday morning.

FLARE, a new electric shuttle service, will be picking up donations for the Arlington Food Assistance Center.

“During this challenging time, we are eager to use FLARE electric shuttles to benefit our neighbors and the Arlington Food Assistance Center. We urge our friends and neighbors to make much-needed food donations to AFAC tomorrow morning, and we’ll deliver the contributions to AFAC,” said FLARE CEO Andres Delgado, in a statement.

AFAC is bracing for a dramatic increase in food need in Arlington, amid the coronavirus crisis and a drop in donations.

Drop-off donations will be accepted this Saturday (March 21) from 8-11 a.m. at 516 25th Street S., 2729 Fort Scott Drive, and 2100 Crystal Drive.

“Food items that are in greatest need are: rice, pasta, low-sugar cereal, canned tomatoes, canned soup, canned tuna fish, and canned beans (no glass),” FLARE noted.

AFAC announced Friday that it is also setting up food collection boxes outside of six (closed) Arlington community centers.

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A 25-year-old man is in custody after police say he attacked a woman in the Aurora Highlands neighborhood near Pentagon City.

The alleged attack happened around 7:15 p.m. Tuesday at the intersection of 18th Street S. and S. Ives Street.

Police say the man wielded a knife as he knocked the victim to the ground, with the intent of sexually molesting her. The woman fought back and the suspect was ultimately scared off by a witness. Officers located a man matching the suspect description nearby and took him into custody.

More from an ACPD crime report:

ABDUCTION WITH THE INTENT TO DEFILE, 2020-02110202, 18th Street S. at S. Ives. At approximately 7:23 p.m. on February 11, police were dispatched to the report of an assault that just occurred. Upon arrival, it was determined that the victim was walking in the area when she heard someone behind her. The victim turned and confronted the suspect who allegedly knocked her to the ground, brandished a knife and assaulted the victim. A witness yelled at the suspect, causing him to flee the scene on foot. Responding officers located an individual matching the suspect description and he was later positively identified. The victim suffered minor injuries. William Peoples, 25, of No Fixed Address was arrested and charged with Abduction with the Intent to Defile and Carrying a Concealed Weapon. He was held without bail.

Abduction with the Intent to Defile is a serious, infrequently charged crime that, if convicted, is punishable by 20 years to life in prison.

This was the fourth notable criminal incident in the Pentagon City area since Sunday.

Map via Google Maps

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Update at 10:30 a.m. — Power has been restored.

Earlier: Some 800 Dominion customers are without power in the Aurora Highlands neighborhood near Pentagon City, prompting the closure of the local library.

The Aurora Hills Branch Library is closed until further notice, Arlington Public Library said in a tweet.

The outage is the result of an “equipment fire,” according to Dominion’s website, but restoration of power to the neighborhood is expected no later than 2 p.m.

Map via Dominion

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The County is considering a major project to replace water main along 23rd Street S.

The Arlington County Board is set to consider starting a water main replacement project along the street from Fort Scott Drive in the Arlington Ridge neighborhood to S. Eads Street in Aurora Highlands. A staff report to the Board notes that the existing water main is 92 years old and corroding.

“The water main replacement is part of the efforts to replace the old unlined cast iron pipes which are subjected to internal and external corrosion that causes rusty water and reduces the fire flow fighting capacity,” the report wrote.

County Board members will consider awarding a $1,562,350 contract to the Loudoun-based A&M Concrete Corporation for the work during their meeting this Saturday, July 13 in Courthouse. The contract would also earmark an additional $312,470.00 in case of unexpected costs during the project.

“The overall goal for the proposed 12-inch water main is to improve the fire flow and provide adequate capacity to support demand in the neighborhood,” the report notes. The residential neighborhoods near Crystal City have seen an uptick in real estate interest since the announcement of Amazon’s nearby HQ2.

If members approve the project, it could cause some water service interruptions in the neighborhood but is not expected to significantly impact traffic, per the report.

The contract for the project is currently listed on the County Board’s consent agenda for their Saturday meeting, a place usually reserved for items expected to pass without debate.

Image via Arlington County

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A man was burned and seriously injured in an early morning fire in the Aurora Highlands neighborhood Tuesday.

The fire broke out in a detached, two story garage and apartment on the 2300 block of S. Hayes Street. Firefighters arriving on scene around 2:30 a.m. found heavy smoke and flames coming from the structure, but were able to eventually extinguish the fire.

One man was transported to a burn center in serious condition and a firefighter was taken to a local hospital for dehydration, according to the Arlington County Fire Department. The main house on the property did not catch fire, but the Red Cross is assisting its two occupants, ACFD said.

Firefighters from Arlington, Alexandria, Reagan National Airport and Joint Base Myer-Henderson Hall all helped battle the flames.

Photos via Arlington County Fire Department

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A man was attacked and robbed of a backpack in the Aurora Highlands neighborhood near Crystal City yesterday morning.

Police say the robbery happened around 7:30 a.m. on Monday, on the 600 block of 26th Street S.

“The victim was walking in the area when he was approached by two suspects,” Arlington County Police said in a crime report. “After a brief struggle, the suspects stole the victim’s backpack and fled on foot. The victim suffered minor injuries that did not require medical treatment.”

Arriving officers, including a K9 unit, attempted to track down the suspects — described as males in their late teens or early 20s — but were unable to locate them. They did, however, find the backpack thanks to a Good Samaritan.

“Arriving officers canvased the area and the victim’s backpack was recovered in the area by an independent witness,” police said. “The investigation is ongoing.”

A resident told ARLnow that the daylight robbery was “violent” and witnessed by several residents, some of whom tried to chase down the suspects. She sent a photo that she said shows the suspects — who were wearing black clothing, including a knit cap and a hoodie — running down the sidewalk following the robbery.

(ARLnow could not immediately confirm that the two people in the photo were, in fact, the suspects.)

ACPD spokeswoman Kirby Clark did confirm that a resident “confronted the suspects in his yard,” after which “the suspects again fled on foot.” She said police do not encourage residents to chase criminal suspects.

“For your safety, citizens are not encouraged to chase suspects, however, they are encouraged to be active witnesses and report criminal activity to police by calling 911 in an emergency or 703-558-2222 in a non-emergent situation,” Clark said via email. “When providing information to dispatch, it should include a suspect(s) description, location, method and direction of travel. This will assist police arriving on scene and canvasing the area.”

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Morning Notes

Tree Falls in Aurora Highlands — A large tree fell across 23rd Street S. in Aurora Highland, near Crystal City, yesterday evening around 5:15 p.m. It happened near the Our Lady of Lourdes Catholic church, between S. Ives and Hayes streets, amid gusty winds that felled other trees and branches around Arlington. The tree reportedly fell on a passing car, but those inside the vehicle were not injured. [Twitter]

Challenger Presses Favola — “Affordable housing and ethical issues took center stage as Democratic contenders for the 31st state Senate seat last week squared off for the first time leading up to the June 11 primary. Facing an uphill battle to knock off a two-term incumbent, challenger Nicole Merlene pressed the case that state Sen. Barbara Favola is too beholden to special interests to effectively represent the district.” [InsideNova]

Overturned SUV Along I-395 — Around 6 p.m. Sunday, an SUV overturned on a ramp to I-395 near Washington Blvd. A photo sent by a tipster shows the SUV on its side near the guardrail. No serious injuries were reported. [Twitter]

Barcroft Principal Lauded — “Judy Apostolico-Buck, who has spent 32 years in the Arlington school system, has been named the county’s 2019 Principal of the Year.” She was also a finalist for Washington Post Principal of the Year. [InsideNova, Washington Post]

Small Explosion in Falls Church Condo — “At 11:10 a.m. today, a contractor working on a stove received minor injuries from a gas flash explosion in a unit at the Falls Chase Condominium, located at 1136 S Washington St. Arlington Fire and Fairfax Fire Departments responded to the scene.” [City of Falls Church, Twitter]

Nearby: Peeping Tom in Falls Church — “City of Falls Church police are looking for more information regarding a peeping tom seen outside of Saint James Catholic School.” [Tysons Reporter]

Photo courtesy Ray Villarreal

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People living in neighborhoods around Reagan National Airport say a staging lot for Uber and Lyft drivers is snarling traffic in the area, and Arlington officials are taking new steps to work out some sort of fix.

The county is convening a public meeting on the issue Thursday (Sept. 27) after hearing persistent complaints about the lot (located at 2780 Jefferson Davis Highway and adjacent to S. Eads Street and a Holiday Inn hotel) over the last few months.

The Metropolitan Washington Airports Authority (MWAA) started routing rideshare drivers to the lot in April, in order to account for construction as part of the airport’s massive improvement project known as “Project Journey,” and required drivers to wait there until would-be passengers request rides at the airport. Since then, neighbors have grown particularly concerned with the congestion the change has caused on S. Eads Street, with the Arlington Ridge, Aurora Highlands and Crystal City civic associations all mentioning it in recent community newsletters.

“Although there is no objection to the parking lot itself, the single entry/exit on S. Eads Street is causing considerable traffic problems and dangerous driving conditions,” the Crystal City Civic Association wrote in its September newsletter. “Plus, drivers in a hurry are [cutting] through the CVS and McDonald’s parking lots to get to the airport ramp on Route 1.”

The Arlington Ridge Civic Association added that the number of drivers cutting through those lots has “reached epic proportions,” and that “the police are now monitoring both.”

The civic associations noted in their missives that they’re pressing the county to reopen the lot’s access to Route 1, in a bid to ease traffic on S. Eads Street. But VDOT has jurisdiction over Route 1, meaning state officials would have to approve any change to the traffic pattern in the area.

“The county estimates the design work and construction to provide ingress and egress from the staging area onto Route 1 may take up to 14 months to complete and cost upwards of $250,000, which is not currently included in the county’s budget,” the Crystal City Civic Association wrote. “While undertaking this engineering work, the county says it is also exploring interim measures and/or options for phased implementation, which will also require coordination with and actions taken by both VDOT and MWAA.”

To that end, the county says it’s invited officials from both MWAA and VDOT to Thursday’s meeting. That gathering is set to be held at the Aurora Hills Community Center (735 18th Street S.) from 7-8:30 p.m.

Photo 1 via Google Maps

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