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Door damaged at Bricks Pizza in Arlington Forest on July 12, 2021 (photo courtesy Michael T.)

A new series of break-ins at the Arlington Forest Shopping Center has caused losses for a pair of local businesses.

The overnight burglaries were discovered this morning, at the low-slung shopping center along Route 50.

“At approximately 7:54 a.m. on July 12, police were dispatched to the report of two vandalized businesses,” according to Arlington County Police Department spokeswoman Ashley Savage. “Upon arrival, it was determined that unknown suspect(s) broke the glass door to a business with a rock, gained entry and stole a cash register. The door to a second business was damaged but no entry was made and nothing was reported stolen.”

A nearby resident tells ARLnow that Bricks Pizza had its door damaged and DA Studio Salon had its cash register stolen.

Bricks Pizza was also burglarized in January, when a thief or thieves damaged and/or stole from Crystal Thai restaurant, Sense of Place Cafe, and the Forest Valet dry cleaner. An online fundraiser after the January break-ins raised nearly $32,000 to help with repairs.

“The investigation is ongoing,” Savage said of the latest incident.

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Thieves are continuing to prowl parts of Arlington for unlocked vehicles.

The most recently reported incidents happened in the early morning hours of this past Thursday, in the Rock Spring and Alcova Heights neighborhoods.

In Rock Spring, a group of suspects stole two vehicles — at least one of which was taken via a key found in another unlocked vehicle — and tried to break into a house.

More from an Arlington County Police Department crime report:

GRAND LARCENY AUTO / ATTEMPTED BURGLARY (series), 2021-06100036 / 06100047, 3400 block of N. Edison Street. At approximately 5:37 a.m. on June 10, police were dispatched to the report of a grand larceny auto just occurred. Upon arrival, it was determined that at approximately 5:20 a.m., the victim was alerted to noises outside and exited his residence to see four vehicles idling in the street. One of the four vehicles was the victim’s 2011 Ford Explorer bearing VA license plate 745186, which the suspects had gained entry to through keys found in a nearby unlocked vehicle. The victim shouted in the direction of the four suspect vehicles and they fled the scene at a high rate of speed. The investigation determined that another one of the four vehicles, a 2013 Infiniti SUV bearing VA license plate XCM4640, had also been stolen earlier in the night from the 3400 block of N. Edison Street. While investigating the two stolen vehicles, it was discovered that four other vehicles in the area had been tampered with. During one of the tamperings, the suspects unsuccessfully attempted to use a key located inside a vehicle to gain entry into the victim’s residence. Suspect One is described as a male wearing dark clothing and tennis shoes at the time of the incident. There are no other suspect descriptions. The investigation is ongoing.

Also on Thursday, police responded to an incident in Alcova Heights in which at least four vehicles were broken into and an unlocked Mercedes was stolen from a home’s garage.

LARCENY FROM AUTO (series), 2021-06100069, 3500 block of 8th Street S. At approximately 9:30 a.m. on June 10, police were dispatched to the report of a larceny from auto. Upon arrival, it was determined that the unknown suspect(s) entered the victim’s unlocked vehicle and rummaged through it. No items were reported stolen. During the course of the investigation, it was discovered that the suspect(s) entered and tampered with three other vehicles in the area and attempted to enter an additional three vehicles. While investigating the tamperings, a witness flagged down an officer and stated that a vehicle had been stolen from a residence in the 3500 block of 6th Street S. Officers made contact with the owner of the vehicle and it was determined that the suspect(s) entered the victim’s garage and located the unlocked vehicle, a 2018 Mercedes-Benz GLC bearing VA license plate UKT2082, with the keys inside. There is no suspect(s) description. The investigation is ongoing.

Last week ACPD said it had “increased police resources” in response to a spate of home burglaries north of I-66, in which thieves found keys in unlocked vehicles and used them to steal items from homes.

The police department continues to encourage residents to lock their homes and vehicles, and to keep valuables out of view. Arlington has experienced a wave of crimes of opportunity involving unlocked and unattended vehicles over the past year or so.

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A juvenile is facing numerous charges and police are looking for two other suspects after yet another business burglary in Dominion Hills.

Police have been more proactive in the wake of dozens of break-ins and thefts at local businesses. The arrest was made early Saturday morning after patrols were stepped up in response to reports of burglaries in a nearby jurisdiction, according to Arlington County police.

Officers allegedly caught three burglars in the act shortly after 3 a.m. while removing a cash register from a business on the hard-hit 6000 block of Wilson Blvd, scene of at least four prior burglaries. They had allegedly arrived at the location in a stolen vehicle and broken the front window of a business.

All of the suspects fled on foot, but Arlington and Fairfax officers were able to take one into custody in the Seven Corners area, with the assistance of the FCPD helicopter.

Police are continuing to investigate the burglaries and are working to determine the identity of the other two suspects. Previously, an Arlington County Police Department spokeswoman told ARLnow that the business burglaries are being investigated as being potentially connected.

“Investigators believe that some of these cases are linked but not all are committed by the same suspects,” said ACPD’s Ashley Savage.

More from a police press release:

A juvenile suspect is facing charges of Burglary, Possession of Stolen Auto, Conspiracy to Commit Felonies (2x), Felony Destruction of Property, Possession of Stolen Property, Petit Larceny, and Underage Possession of Tobacco following a commercial burglary in the Dominion Hills neighborhood on the morning of Saturday, April 24, 2021. The arrest follows an increase in overnight commercial burglaries targeting cash-based businesses both in Arlington County and the region. Detectives continue to investigate the juvenile suspect’s role in these burglaries and additional charges are anticipated.

At approximately 3:13 a.m. on April 24, officers were conducting extra checks at commercial establishments after receiving the report of a business being burglarized in a neighboring jurisdiction. Upon entering the 6000 block of Wilson Boulevard, officers observed a vehicle, which was later determined to be stolen, backed in front of a business with both front doors open. As the officers approached the business, they observed that the front window had been broken out. Three suspects then exited the business through the broken window carrying stolen merchandise and a cash register. Officers gave lawful commands to stop but the three suspects dropped the stolen items and fled the scene on foot.

A perimeter was established, and the area was searched with the assistance of the Fairfax County Police Department helicopter. At approximately 3:42 a.m., an officer observed an individual running across Route 50 matching the description of one of the burglary suspects. Fairfax County helicopter located the suspect in the 6100 block of Brook Drive where he was taken into custody without incident by Arlington and Fairfax County officers. The two additional suspects were not located and the investigation into their identities is ongoing.

This remains an active criminal investigation. Anyone with information or video surveillance that may assist with the investigation is asked to contact Detective B. Kooharian at 703-228-4049 or [email protected] Information may also be reported anonymously through the Arlington County Crime Solvers hotline at 1-866-411-TIPS (8477).

Flickr pool photo by Kevin Wolf

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The recent spate of business burglaries in Arlington is continuing.

Early Saturday morning a group of three thieves broke into businesses in the Dominion Hills and Westover neighborhoods, stealing several cash registers and leaving behind piles of broken glass. At least five businesses were damaged by the burglars.

More from an Arlington County Police Department crime report:

BURGLARY, 2021-04170015/04170016, 6000 block of Wilson Boulevard. At approximately 1:23 a.m. on April 17, police were dispatched to the report of multiple audible security alarms. Upon arrival, it was determined that multiple businesses had their front doors damaged, with two of the businesses being burglarized and two of the businesses showing signs of attempted forced entry. A cash register with an undisclosed amount of cash was stolen from one business, while no other items were reported stolen. Officers established a perimeter and the area was checked with negative results. The investigation revealed that the three suspects, who were wearing dark colored clothing and face masks, had fled the scene in a dark colored vehicle prior to the arrival of police. The investigation is ongoing.

BURGLARY, 2021-04170017, 5800 block of Washington Boulevard. At approximately 1:33 a.m. on April 17, police were dispatched to the report of a glass break alarm. Upon arrival, it was determined that employees were inside the closed business when they heard glass break, followed by footsteps and unknown individuals talking. The investigation determined that three unknown suspects forced entry into the business through a window, stole two cash registers containing and undisclosed amount of cash and fled the scene on foot. Responding officers established a perimeter and the area was checked with negative results. No injuries were reported. There are no suspect descriptions. The investigation is ongoing.

The western portion of Wilson Blvd in Dominion Hills and Bluemont has been the scene of at least a half dozen prior burglaries this year, including three on the same block as Saturday’s incident.

ACPD spokeswoman Ashley Savage said detectives are investigating these and other prior business break-ins, in Arlington and around the region, as potentially related given the method of theft.

“The burglaries… are being investigated as part of the commercial burglary series,” Savage tells ARLnow. “Detectives continue to follow up on investigative leads in the case and are working collaboratively with our regional law enforcement partners to identify and apprehend those responsible.”

“Investigators believe that some of these cases are linked but not all are committed by the same suspects,” she added.

In February, ACPD announced that is was “investigating an increase in overnight commercial burglaries targeting cash-based businesses.” At the time, there had been 21 reported business burglary incidents in Arlington since the start of the year. Since then that number has risen to 31, including 22 completed burglaries and 9 attempted burglaries, according to police.

The police department previously offered the following crime prevention tips for businesses.

  • “Don’t store money overnight in your business. If you must keep cash or other valuables overnight, store them in a safe anchored to the floor”
  • “Leave cash drawers open, indicating there’s nothing to steal”
  • “Post signs in your store window that cash and valuables are removed from the premises overnight”
  • “Ensure your property has adequate lighting, especially at points of entry”
  • “Consider installing security cameras with alarms to capture suspects on video and notify police immediately if unauthorized individuals gain entry to your business”
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More local business were broken into this week, in a similar manner to others over the past several months.

Two men broke into Olive Lebanese Eatery at 1100 N. Glebe Road in Ballston early Wednesday morning and stole hundreds of dollars in cash, restaurant owner Yvonne Risheq tells ARLnow.

An Arlington County police report says that two suspects smashed their way into the restaurant and fled with stolen cash registers in a Ford F-150 pickup truck.

Around the same time, a similar burglary happened on the 4700 block of Lee Highway. From the crime report:

BURGLARY, 2021-03170043, 4700 block of Lee Highway. At approximately 9:00 a.m. on March 17, police were dispatched to the late report of a commercial burglary. Upon arrival, it was determined that between 6:00 p.m. on March 16 and 9:00 a.m. on March 17, an unknown suspect(s) forced entry into the business and stole a cash register and an undisclosed amount of cash.

These are just two in a rash of burglaries targeting cash-based local businesses that have the Arlington County Police Department concerned.

On February 22, ACPD released a statement that said the department had investigated 21 commercial burglaries so far in 2021. Since then, spokesperson Ashley Savage confirms that four more business burglaries, including the two this week, have occurred — for a total of 25. Savage also noted a recent attempted theft.

Many of the burglaries follow a similar pattern: suspects arriving in the middle of the night, forcing entry by smashing a glass door or window, removing registers or safes with cash, and fleeing in a waiting vehicle.

The entire crime takes mere minutes.

This is exactly what happened at Olive Lebanese Eatery, says Risheq.

At 2:45 a.m. Wednesday morning, security cameras captured two men throwing a boulder through a glass window, entering the building, and stealing the cash registers.

“They were in and out within one minute,” she says. “They knew what they were doing and exactly what to get.”

She says that two cash registers were stolen, each holding between $250 and $350.

Risheq believes it was pre-planned due to their precision and the fact that, when looking back at the surveillance video from earlier in the day, there was a man who had come into the restaurant and looked around for five minutes before exiting.

“He didn’t order anything, didn’t pick anything up. He was inside… just really looking at how things flowed,” she says. “To me, that’s very suspicious.”

In the end, the damages caused by the break-in will probably cost more than the $500 to $700 stolen, she says. They have to fix the glass window, the door, repair their sign, change all the keys and locks, and replace a few other items in the restaurant.

“No one was here and nobody got hurt,” says Risheq. “That’s the most important thing.”

The restaurant closed on Wednesday for repairs and re-opened on Thursday.

Olive Express Mediterranean Café opened in Ballston in October 2019, joining locations in Reston and Herndon. Later, the restaurant changed its name to Olive Lebanese Eatery.

Risheq says that they initially suffered a 90% drop in sales due to the pandemic, but catering has picked back up somewhat in recent weeks. The hope is that when people begin to return to the office — potentially this summer — business will slowly return to normal.

As for dishes she recommends to new customers, Risheq says the Lebanese kabobs or the falafel are the way to go.

“We make our falafel from scratch,” she says. “We’ve won awards for our falafel and humus.”

Due to their location in an office-heavy portion of Ballston, near a busy road, they’ve always felt safe. With the break-in, that illusion of safety is now shattered — but it won’t deter her from continuing to do business in Arlington.

“I was really surprised by the outpouring of support yesterday from residents and the community,” Risheq says. “I’m glad we made the move [to Arlington]. We do love it here.”

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Morning Notes

Quarter of Students Staying at Home — “Students in Pre-K through second grade returned to Arlington County classrooms Tuesday, a step that Superintendent Francisco Duran says the school system is prepared to take on. Roughly 75% of the student body took the in-person learning option, while 25% will continue to learn virtually. Staff and students who return will complete a daily screening.” [WTOP]

More Commercial Burglaries Reported — Two more local businesses have been victimized among a spate of commercial burglaries. Arlington County police yesterday reported that business on the 5500 block of Columbia Pike and the 4200 block of N. Pershing Drive in Buckingham were broken into. In both cases, thieves stole cash registers and an undisclosed amount of cash. Police did not reveal the businesses involved; there are two on that block of N. Pershing Drive: El Paso Cafe and Popeye’s. [ACPD]

Wakefield Football Undefeated So Far — “The Wakefield Warriors rallied from a 14-0 deficit to defeat the Edison Eagles, 34-14, in National District high-school football action on Feb. 27… Wakefield stays undefeated on [the] gridiron.” [InsideNova]

W&OD Trail Work Taking Place — From the Arlington Dept. of Environmental Services: “[This] afternoon: W&OD Trail asphalt repairs in Bluemont Park just south of Wilson Boulevard. Will take about 4 hours. Flaggers on hand to direct users onto nearby Four Mile Run Trail. (Rescheduled from earlier this week.)” [Twitter]

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King of Koshary, La Union, Meridian Pint. These are just three of the local businesses burglarized among the 21 commercial burglaries investigated by Arlington County police so far this year.

ACPD confirmed today what was anecdotally evident: such burglaries have been on the rise.

From a police press release:

The Arlington County Police Department’s Property Crimes Unit is investigating an increase in overnight commercial burglaries targeting cash-based businesses. Since the start of the year, detectives have investigated 21 reports of commercial burglaries in the County with similar methods of theft. Investigators believe that some of these cases are linked but not all are committed by the same suspects. Similar cases have been reported in neighboring jurisdictions and detectives are working collaboratively with our regional law enforcement partners to identify and apprehend those responsible.

During overnight hours, suspects force entry to businesses by smashing glass doors and windows. Once inside, the suspects are in search of cash and will remove registers and safes if they are not bolted down. The entire incident takes only minutes and the suspects flee in an awaiting vehicle.

There have been 21 reported incidents with 15 of those being completed burglaries and 6 attempted burglaries.

Many of the burglaries have been along Wilson Blvd or the Columbia Pike corridor and involve already-struggling restaurants.

Among recent reported burglaries, ACPD spokeswoman Ashley Savage confirmed that the following — each involving a group of five suspects — are being investigated “as a series.”

BURGLARY, 2021-02170037, 1000 block of S. Walter Reed Drive. At approximately 8:45 a.m. on February 17, police were dispatched to the report of a burglary just discovered. Upon arrival, it was determined that between 3:33 a.m. and 3:37 a.m. on February 17, five suspects attempted to forced entry to a business, causing damage. The suspects fled in a red vehicle. Nothing was reported missing from the business. […] The investigation is ongoing.

BURGLARY (series), 2021-02190017/02190021, 5000 block of Columbia Pike. At approximately 3:55 a.m. on February 19, police were dispatched to the report of a burglary. Upon arrival, it was determined that at approximately 2:22 a.m. on February 19, five suspects forced entry to two businesses, causing damage. The suspects stole three cash registers containing an undisclosed amount of cash from Business One, and attempted to steal cash registers from Business Two unsuccessfully, then fled in a vehicle. […] The suspect vehicle is described as a burgundy Lincoln MKZ sedan with Texas license plates. The investigation is ongoing.

Today’s police press release urged Arlington residents to report suspicious activity.

“The department’s efforts to prevent and solve crime are enhanced by the active involvement of residents,” police said. “Residents observing suspicious behavior in commercial areas, such as groups congregating outside closed businesses during overnight hours, should contact the Emergency Communications Center at 703-558-2222. If you see a suspect entering a business, do not approach them and dial 9-1-1 immediately.”

ACPD also offered the following tips for safeguarding businesses.

  • Don’t store money overnight in your business. If you must keep cash or other valuables overnight, store them in a safe anchored to the floor
  • Leave cash drawers open, indicating there’s nothing to steal
  • Post signs in your store window that cash and valuables are removed from the premises overnight
  • Ensure your property has adequate lighting, especially at points of entry
  • Consider installing security cameras with alarms to capture suspects on video and notify police immediately if unauthorized individuals gain entry to your business

File photo courtesy Bozzelli’s

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Morning Notes

Board Advertises Property Tax Rates — “The Arlington County Board today voted unanimously to advertise no increase in the Calendar Year 2021 base real estate property tax rate, citing the toll the ongoing coronavirus pandemic is taking on residents. The Board also voted to advertise a proposed Stormwater tax rate of 1.7 cents per $100 of assessed real property value to fund the full cost of operations and planned capital improvements to the County’s stormwater infrastructure and flood mitigation… The estimated annual impact for the average household with an assessed home value of $724,400 is $123.” [Arlington County]

Snow Falling in ArlingtonUpdated at 9:10 a.m. — Snow is falling in Arlington, which is just outside of a newly-expanded expanded Winter Weather Advisory. Be careful out there! [Twitter]

Business Owners Talk About Burglaries — “Metry describes the Bluemont neighborhood where his business was burglarized as safe. He doesn’t understand why his business was targeted. ‘The whole register, the iPad, the square scan, all of this was missing,’ Metry said. Surveillance footage captured at neighboring restaurant La Union shows the burglars wearing dark clothing, hoodies, masks and gloves. Jose Zelaya has owned the Mexican restaurant La Union for 21 years. Aside from a random car break-in, he said he’s never experienced any crime like this.” [WUSA 9]

St. Patrick’s Pie at Clarendon Pizzeria — “Colony Grill, Clarendon’s new family-friendly tavern, known for its gracious hospitality and famous ‘hot oil’ bar-style pizzas, will serve a special corned beef & cabbage “Bar Pie”… [f]rom Friday, March 12 through Wednesday, March 17.” [Press Release]

Reminder: Trash Collection Delayed a Day — Due to ice and snow last week, Friday’s residential waste collection will be completed today, shifting this week’s collection schedule by one day. [ARLnow]

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Arlington County police are investigating a number of businesses break-ins along Wilson Blvd, west of Ballston.

Thieves broke into businesses in the Bluemont and Dominion Hills neighborhoods early Tuesday and Wednesday mornings. The first series of burglaries happened either at or near the Dominion Hills Centre shopping plaza.

From a crime report:

BURGLARY (series), 2021-02160033/02160034, 6000 block of Wilson Boulevard. At approximately 4:12 a.m. on February 16, police were dispatched to the report of an alarm. Upon arrival, it was determined that the unknown suspect(s) attempted to force entry to a business unsuccessfully, causing damage. While investigating, police located a second business, which the suspect(s) forced entry to, causing damage. Nothing was reported stolen from either business. There is no suspect description(s). The investigation is ongoing.

A similar burglary on the same block earlier this month targeted local watering hole Meridian Pint.

On Wednesday morning, meanwhile, thieves broke into a small strip of businesses in the Bluemont neighborhood, along the 5500 block of Wilson Blvd.

Readers tell us that a restaurant, a salon and a barbershop were among the businesses burglarized.

“Yen Beauty/Don Barber and King of Koshary appeared to have had their glass front doors smashed in,” one reader told ARLnow yesterday. The Arlington County Police Department typically does not reveal the exact addresses or names of businesses that were the victims of crimes.

More from ACPD:

BURGLARY (Series), 2021-02170023/0114/0115, 5500 block of Wilson Boulevard. At approximately 5:34 a.m. on February 17, police were dispatched to the report of a breaking and entering. Upon arrival, it was determined that unknown suspects forced entry into three businesses, causing damage. Two cash registers, electronics and an undisclosed amount of cash were stolen. The investigating is ongoing.

Photo via Google Maps

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Two people, one from Arlington and another from Alexandria, have been arrested after a series of burglaries and vehicle tamperings.

The incidents happened early this past Friday morning, in the Rosslyn and Clarendon areas.

Police were called after two men were seen walking around and peering into cars in at least two parking garages. Officers arriving at the second garage found two suspects matching the description. The men were taken into custody and then found to be in possession of allegedly stolen items, including a bike, police said.

As previously reported, there has been a significant increase in vehicle-related property crime in Arlington over the past two years.

More from today’s Arlington County Police Department crime report, below.

BURGLARY/VEHICLE TAMPERING (significant), 2020-12180029/12180036/12180088, 2500 block of Clarendon Boulevard/1200 block of N. Rolfe Street/1800 block of N. Scott Street. At approximately 5:59 a.m. on December 18, police were dispatched to the 2500 block of Clarendon Boulevard for the report of two males looking into vehicles in a garage. Upon arrival, it was determined that the victim was approaching his vehicle in the garage when he observed two male suspects allegedly looking inside and contacted police, at which time the suspects fled the area. Arriving officers canvased the garage and area with negative results, and nothing was reported missing from the victim’s vehicle. At approximately 6:39 a.m., police were dispatched to the 1200 block of N. Rolfe Street for the report of two suspicious persons inside a garage. Arriving officers observed the two suspects still in the area and detained them without incident. One suspect was in possession of a bike allegedly stolen from the Rolfe Street scene. The suspects were positively identified by witnesses from both locations. During the course of the investigation, one suspect was determined to be in possession of items stolen from a vehicle parked in the 1800 block of N. Scott Street, a second stolen bicycle was located, and officers located a third bicycle with the lock cut. Breon Lassiter, 22, of Arlington, Va., was arrested and charged with Burglary with Intent to Commit Larceny (x2), Possession of Burglarous Tools, and Tampering with Vehicle (x2). He was held on no bond. Joshua Wallace, 26, of Alexandria Va., was arrested and charged with Burglary with Intent to Commit Larceny, Tampering with Vehicle, and Possession of Burglarous Tools. He was also served with an outstanding warrant for Probation Violation, and held on a secured bond.

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Morning Notes

Arlington Under Flood Watch — In addition to the Winter Weather Advisory that is in effect today for snow and ice, Arlington is also under a Flood Watch from 4 p.m. today and 7 a.m. Thursday. [Twitter]

Return-to-School Update — “Specific details and dates for future in-person learning transitions for students in Level 2 and Level 3 will be communicated to staff and families in early January. We continue to evaluate all metrics, and to focus on effective mitigation strategies to ensure the health and safety of staff and students.” [Arlington Public Schools]

Volunteers Needed for Bridge Work — “We need three more volunteers this Thursday to replace some rotting boards on Trollheim bridge. This event is a crucial step on the path to applying a non-slip treatment.” [Twitter]

Beyer Hails Buttigieg Nomination — Rep. Don Beyer (D-Va.) is hailing Pete Buttigieg’s reported nomination as Secretary of Transportation, calling it “barrier-breaking.” Buttigieg, while running for the Democratic presidential nomination, held a large campaign event in Arlington. [Press Release]

Nearby: Burglaries at Eden Center — “Multiple businesses were broken into at the Eden Center between 0200-0300 hours. Police and Detectives are on scene and business owners have been notified.” [Twitter]

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