Arlington, VA

A thief or thieves stole the airbags from nearly two dozen cars in a single parking garage this week.

The theft took place at some point between Wednesday evening and Thursday morning on the 4400 block of 4th Road N., in the Buckingham neighborhood near Ballston.

“Upon arrival, it was determined that between 5:30 p.m. on November 18 and 8:00 a.m. on November 19, an unknown suspect(s) smashed the windows to approximately 21 vehicles inside a secured garage and stole the airbags,” the Arlington County Police Department said in a crime report today. “There is no suspect(s) description. The investigation is ongoing.”

Arlington has seen a rise in crime, particularly vehicle-related property crimes, over the past couple of years. Airbags are a popular theft target for criminals due to their resale value on the black market.

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Morning Notes

A First for ACFD — “A veteran firefighter in Arlington County, Virginia, is breaking barriers as she rises through the ranks. Tiffanye Wesley is the first African American woman named deputy fire chief in all of Northern Virginia.” [NBC 4]

County Wants Feedback on Camera Policy — ” The Arlington County Police Department, Sheriff’s Office and Fire Marshals’ Office are seeking the public’s input and feedback on draft Digital Evidence Management System policies, regulating digital audio and video recordings captured by body worn cameras, in-car cameras, and interview room cameras.” [Arlington County]

Guilty Plea in Murder Case — “Jose Angel Rodriguez-Cruz, 54, pleaded guilty in Stafford County Circuit Court on Monday morning in the killing of 28-year-old Marta Haydee Rodriguez, who was last seen walking to a bus stop in Arlington, Virginia, in April 1989.” [WTOP, Washington Post]

Vehicle and Business Break-ins — Arlington County police are investigating a pair of business burglaries in the Rosslyn area, and series of vehicle break-ins in the Barcroft neighborhood, according to Monday’s crime report. [ACPD]

Gov. Backs Marijuana Legalization — “Governor Ralph Northam today announced that he will introduce and support legislation to legalize marijuana in the Commonwealth of Virginia. The announcement comes as the Northam Administration prepares to release a report on the impact of legalizing adult-use marijuana.” [Commonwealth of Virginia]

Amazon Order Boosts 23rd Street — “By early May, more than 400 meals a day were leaving the Freddie’s kitchen and reaching firefighters, police, hospitals, and area residents in low-income housing… Due to the size of Amazon’s order, he enlisted a dozen other nearby restaurants. This joint effort ‘breathed life, energy, and activity into the independent restaurants that make up the core of 23rd Street.'” [Amazon]

Reopening Groups Blast Teachers — “Our coalitions of over 5,300 parents, teachers and Northern Virginia residents unite today to express dismay and concern of the latest efforts by a group of Northern Virginia education associations pushing Governor Northam to remove the option for in-person school for all of Virginia’s children.” [Arlington Parents for Education]

Local Districts Pause Reopening — “As COVID-19 cases surge, Fairfax County Public Schools will delay bringing back early HeadStart, pre-K and kindergarten students, plus some students who receive special education services… [and] Falls Church City Public Schools announced Tuesday that they will temporarily ‘pause’ in-person learning for the week of Thanksgiving.” [NBC 4, InsideNova, Washington Post]

Photo courtesy Dennis Dimick

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Two. D.C. men are facing a battery of charges after police say they were seen prowling local neighborhoods and trying to break into cars.

The arrests were made Monday morning after a resident reported a suspicious vehicle, accompanied by two people on foot looking into parked cars, along N. George Mason Drive in the Yorktown neighborhood. The vehicle was later spotted in the Clarendon area, and the pair arrested after a foot chase.

More from an Arlington County Police Department press release:

At approximately 5:30 a.m. on October 12, police were dispatched to the area of 27th Street N. and N. George Mason Drive for the report of a suspicious vehicle. The reporting party observed a vehicle driving through the neighborhood with two subjects walking alongside it and appearing to look into parked vehicles. A lookout for the vehicle was broadcast and officers located it in the area of Wilson Boulevard and 10th Street North. The driver of the vehicle failed to stop for law enforcement. The vehicle eventually became inoperable at 10th Street N. and N. Irving Street and the four occupants fled the scene on foot. Following a brief foot pursuit, two of the vehicle’s occupants were located and taken into police custody. Two subjects remain outstanding and there are no descriptions of the subjects. The investigation determined that both the vehicle and the temporary license plate on the vehicle were reported stolen.

A 21-year-old man was charged with Unauthorized Use of a Motor Vehicle, Eluding and Receiving Stolen Property, while a 20-year-old man was was charged with Unauthorized Use of a Motor Vehicle, Eluding, Forgery and False ID to Law Enforcement. Both were held on a secured bond, police said.

The arrests come as Arlington is in the midst of a wave of vehicle-related crimes. In February we reported that hundreds of cars had been broken into since July 2019. In July of this year, at least 31 cars were reported stolen in Arlington, two-thirds of which were either left running while unattended, or unlocked with keys inside. Despite public service announcements from ACPD, as well as other arrests, those types of crimes continued throughout the summer.

The latest incident, police say, is an instance of a common vehicle property crime in Arlington: a group of thieves, traveling together in a stolen vehicle, testing door handles and then stealing items from unlocked cars or stealing the cars themselves, if keys are found inside.

From ACPD:

Vehicle-related property crimes such as motor vehicle theft, larcenies from auto and vehicle tampering are often crimes of opportunity. Thieves are looking for easy, low effort opportunities to steal from hardworking members of the public and target vehicles with unsecured doors and windows.

The method of theft in this incident is consistent with other vehicle-related property crimes reported in Arlington. Several suspects, often riding in a stolen vehicle, drive through Arlington neighborhoods looking for crimes of opportunity. As the driver proceeds slowly down the street, several accomplices exit the vehicle and check door handles of vehicles parked in the area. The suspects enter vehicles that are found to be unlocked with the goal of stealing valuables and those vehicles with keys left inside. These incidents typically occur during overnight or early morning hours.

The police department offered the following tips for keeping one’s vehicle secure and reporting suspicious activity to authorities.

Read More

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Morning Notes

Italian Deli Coming to Pentagon Row — “Napoli Pasta Bar, the Bib Gourmand-designated Italian restaurant in Columbia Heights, will expand into Northern Virginia next month when it adds a sister deli in Arlington. Napoli Salumeria is expected to open in early October at 1301 South Joyce Street… The Pentagon Row space was largely turnkey ready, as it formerly functioned as a deli called A Deli.” [Eater]

Shirlington Movie Theater Reopens — The AMC Shirlington 7 theater reopened earlier this week, after closing over the weekend. A PR rep said the closure was due to a “plumbing issue.”

More Hazy Skies Possible — “More smoke from western wildfires likely to stream into DC area tonight and into Wednesday. Skies unlikely to be as blue as the past several days.” [Washington Post, Twitter]

Restaurant Break-in on Pentagon Row — “At approximately 10:41 a.m. on September 21, police were dispatched to the report of a larceny. Upon arrival, it was determined that at approximately 12:25 a.m., two suspects forced entry to a business, causing damage, and stole an undisclosed amount of cash and items of value. The suspects are described as males, wearing hooded sweatshirts, masks, and gloves. The investigation is ongoing.” [Arlington County]

Cooking School Adapts During Pandemic — Cookology at Ballston Quarter mall was just hitting its stride when the pandemic hit. After shutting down for weeks, the cooking school reopened via “Cookology Live” virtual classes. And now, the business has secured outdoor space at the mall’s covered “Instagram Alley” in which to hold in-person classes. [Washington Business Journal]

Apartment Building Designated as Historic — “The Glebe Apartments (now known as Knightsbridge Apartments) in the Ballston area has been placed on the Virginia Landmarks Register… The apartment complex, located in the 200 block of North Glebe Road, is an example of garden-style apartment units that were constructed in Arlington from the 1930s to the 1950s to provide moderately priced housing for a growing number of federal workers and, after World War II, returning veterans.” [InsideNova]

Today: ‘Spirit of Community’ Event — “Please join us for the 2020 Spirit of Community celebration on Wednesday, September 23 at 12 p.m… The program will include interviews with Chris Nassetta, President and CEO of Hilton, and Steve Presley, Chairman and CEO of Nestle USA.” [ARLnow Events]

Confederate Costumes Cause Controversy — ” Party City is racing to clear its shelves of children’s costumes celebrating the Confederacy. An Arlington, Virginia mom of two adopted Black children, was shocked to find the Party City store at Bailey’s Crossroads selling Civil War rebel costumes emblazoned with the Confederate flag.” [WUSA 9]

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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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Morning Notes

Hundreds Protest Along George Mason Drive — Hundreds of people lined George Mason Drive Monday evening to protest racism and support Black Lives Matter. The protest was organized by the Unitarian Universalist Church of Arlington. [Twitter, Twitter]

Break-in at Claremont Elementary — “At approximately 12:30 a.m. on May 31, police were dispatched to the report of a burglary alarm. Arriving officers observed four suspects inside of a building and established a perimeter. While clearing the building, the four suspects were located on the roof and taken into custody without incident.” [Arlington County]

Local GOP Amps Up Social Media Presence — “The Arlington County Republican Committee often has a hard time competing with its Democratic counterpart at the ballot box. But the local GOP is working to win the battle of social media. Local Republicans recently announced that Taylor Jack, a rising senior at James Madison University, has joined the party’s public-relations team.” [InsideNova]

Beyer’s GOP Challenger Selected — “The candidate who positioned himself as the more conservative in the field emerged the victor and will become the Republican challenger in a decidedly uphill battle to unseat U.S. Rep. Don Beyer (D-8th). Jeff Jordan defeated Mark Ellmore in the 8th District Republican Committee convention.” [InsideNova]

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Arlington County Police have nabbed four suspects in connection with another series of car break-ins.

The vehicle tamperings occurred around the 6000 and 6100 blocks of Wilson Blvd, in the Dominion Hills and Boulevard Manor neighborhoods, early Tuesday morning. Police say eight mostly unlocked vehicles were entered, and a number of items were stolen.

Four teens, including three young adults from Falls Church, were subsequently taken into custody and are facing a variety of charges, from identity theft to petty larceny to contributing to the delinquency of a minor.

This is the latest in a string of vehicle break-ins over the past year, which have prompted Arlington police to post daily social media reminders for residents to lock their cars at night.

More from today’s ACPD crime report:

LARCENY FROM AUTO (series), 2020-05260015/05260016/05260020/05260021/05260023, 6000 block of Wilson Boulevard/6000 block of 6th Street N./6100 block of Wilson Boulevard/6000 block of 8th Place N. At approximately 3:06 a.m. on May 26, police were dispatched to the report of multiple vehicle tampering incidents. Arriving officers canvased the area and located two suspects in the area of the 500 block of N. Livingston Street and two suspects in the area of 4th Street N. and N. Lombardy Street. All four suspects were taken into custody without incident. The investigation determined that the four suspects allegedly entered approximately 8, mostly unlocked, vehicles, tampered with items and stole items of value. Abel Perez Santiago, 19, of Falls Church, Va., was arrested and charged with Identity Theft, Forgery, Entering or Setting a Vehicle in Motion, Petit Larceny: Theft from Motor Vehicle and Contributing to the delinquency of a minor. Alex Navidad-Ostorga, 19, of Falls Church, Va., and Kevin Aguilar-Lara, 18, of Falls Church, Va., were arrested and charged with Entering or Setting a Vehicle in Motion. Petitions were sought for Entering or Setting a Vehicle in Motion and Petit Larceny: Theft from Motor Vehicle for the fourth juvenile suspect.

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Another series of vehicle break-ins was reported last week, as thieves continue to take advantage of unlocked car doors in Arlington neighborhoods.

The latest break-in series was discovered in the Barcroft neighborhood Thursday morning. Nine cars were tampered with and stolen from, police said in a crime report.

LARCENY FROM AUTO (series), 2020-05070018, 4400 block of block of 1st Street S. At approximately 6:08 a.m. on May 7, police were dispatched to the report of a larceny from auto. Upon arrival, it was determined that approximately nine unlocked vehicles were entered and items of value stolen. There are no suspect(s) description. The investigation is ongoing.

Other car break-ins have been reported by Arlington County Police but without further description, including the following from the Thursday crime report:

LARCENY FROM AUTO, 2020-05060004, 3600 block of N. Harrison Street

LARCENY FROM AUTO, 2020-05060151, 1000 block of 18th Street S.

A resident provided additional information about the N. Harrison Street incident, near Williamsburg Middle School, on a neighborhood listserv.

“Last night at about 12:15 AM, I caught a guy actively going through my truck interior,” the victim wrote. “The truck was parked on the street and he took off on a bicycle when I started yelling and approaching him from across the yard. I called the non-emergency police line to report it thinking it would just be another sheet in a file but they jumped all over it. Multiple units responded including a crime scene officer to dust for fingerprints and the police were canvassing the neighborhood within 10-15 minutes.”

Despite the response, no arrests were made.

Arlington County Police have, however, made several arrests in such cases over the past few months, amid a rash of hundreds of car break-ins since last summer. The prevalence of such crimes has prompted ACPD to launch a public information campaign urging residents to lock their doors at night and leave valuables out of plain sight.

https://twitter.com/ArlingtonVaPD/status/1260010568921919488

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Arlington County Police are looking for a suspect that allegedly fled from a traffic stop in a stolen car early this morning.

Police say they responded to the 1500 block of S. Quincy Street around 2 a.m., for a report of someone tampering with cars. While checking around, an officer spotted a suspect in a stolen car near the intersection of N. George Mason Drive and Carlin Springs Road, southwest of Ballston.

Despite efforts to pull the vehicle over, the driver sped off and made a successful getaway. (Arlington police are generally not authorized to conduct vehicle chases, particularly for nonviolent crimes.)

The incident a months-long wave of vehicles being broken into. In February it was revealed that nearly 900 vehicle break-ins had been reported in Arlington since July 2019.

More from an ACPD crime report:

ELUDING (Significant), 2020-04270011, N. George Mason Drive at N. Carlin Springs Road. At approximately 2:00 a.m. on April 27, police were dispatched to the report of a possible tampering with auto in the 1500 block of S. Quincy Street. While checking the area, officers observed a dark colored sedan which was determined to have been reported stolen out of Manassas, Virginia. Officers attempted a traffic stop and the driver fled the scene at a high rate of speed. The investigation is ongoing.

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The owner of a local store went on Fox News’ Tucker Carlson Tonight last night to discuss the arrest of a store employee for shooting a would-be robber.

Jowan Zuber, owner of Arlington Smoke Shop in the Green Valley neighborhood, said 33-year-old Hamzeh Abushariah was sleeping in the store’s back office when he was awoken by loud noises. He encountered three masked suspects breaking in and fired three shots to scare them off, Zuber claimed.

One of the suspects, a boy under 18 years of age, was struck and suffered serious but non-life-threatening injuries, police said.

To Zuber’s surprise, police and the Commonwealth’s Attorney decided to level felony charges against Abushariah that could land him in prison for upwards of two decades, if convicted. Abushariah was denied bond, Zuber said, leading to concerns for his health while confined during the coronavirus epidemic.

“We thought we’re in the right. Three masked men at 4:30 on a Sunday morning,” Zuber told Carlson. “This is very sad for America today, as American citizens practicing the Second Amendment to protect the store and the lives.”

Zuber claimed that police asked Abushariah, “why didn’t you run out the back door?”

“This [tells] the criminals out there, hey we can rob stuff, kill people, hurt people, and guess what — people have to run out the back door,” Zuber said. “This is mind boggling.”

The Commonwealth’s Attorney Office, led by reform-minded prosecutor Parisa Dehghani-Tafti, defended the decision to charge Abushariah earlier this week.

“There’s evidence we are not at liberty to share that support the charges, the decision was not made lightly,” the office said on Twitter.

Update at noon — The Arlington County Republican Committee has weighed in on the controversy via Twitter, calling for charges against Abushariah to be dropped.

Update on 4/24/20 — Two of the break-in suspects are now facing charges.

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A Falls Church man has been arrested after police say he was seen pulling on car door handles in the Bluemont area early Tuesday morning.

The incident happened around 3:30 a.m. on the 5700 block of 8th Road N.

Arlington County Police say Kevin Gomez, 24, “was found to be in possession of alleged stolen items” and is now facing a theft charge. He also had outstanding warrants for his arrest from Fairfax County.

More from an ACPD crime report:

LARCENY (Significant), 2020-03240023, 5700 block of 8th Road N. At approximately 3:36 a.m. on March 24, police were dispatched to the report of suspicious persons pulling on door handles of parked vehicles. Upon arrival, officers canvassed the area and observed a subject matching the description provided by the witness. When stopped by police, the subject provided false information related to his identification. During the course of the investigation, the subject was found to be in possession of alleged stolen items. Kevin Hernandez Gomez, 24, of Falls Church, VA was arrested and charged with Petit Larceny and Providing False Identity to Law Enforcement. He was also served with outstanding warrants out of Fairfax County.

Arlington experienced a string of car break-ins since mid-2019, though police have announced a number of arrests over the past month or so. Many of the break-ins have been crimes of opportunity, involving unlocked car doors or valuables in plain sight.

The police department is continuing to remind residents to take precautions, even as officers step up patrols.

From an ARLnow article on a break-in spree in January:

Police spokeswoman Ashley Savage said police are taking a number of steps in response, but still need the public’s help.

“ACPD officers proactively patrol Arlington’s neighborhoods to identify and prevent criminal activity,” Savage told ARLnow. “The department’s efforts are enhanced by the active involvement of residents. Residents are encouraged to report suspicious activity to police for investigation by calling 703-558-2222 or 9-1-1 in an emergency.”

“We also encourage residents to reduce the opportunity for crime by participating in the 9 P.M. Routine,” Savage added, referring to the department’s campaign to remind residents to lock their doors and remove valuables from their cars.

 

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