Arlington, VA

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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A man accused of burglarizing homes in the Penrose neighborhood, and in one instance touching a woman inappropriately during a break-in, has been arrested.

The arrest happened around 1 a.m. this morning in the Penrose neighborhood. Police say they were staking out the area around Friday’s sexual battery incident, on the 2500 block of Arlington Blvd, when officers “observed the suspect acting suspiciously as he entered the backyard of residences.”

“While additional units responded to assist with the investigation, the suspect entered his vehicle and attempted to flee the scene,” Arlington County Police said in a press release Tuesday afternoon. “A traffic stop was initiated, and the suspect was taken into custody without incident. During a canvas of the scene, officers located several window screens which had been cut and removed from the frames to include at the address of the original incident.”

“Alijah Hall, 26, of Waldorf, MD, was arrested and charged with Burglary: Break and Enter at Night with Intent to Commit a Felony or Larceny and Possession of Burglarious Tools,” police said. “He is being held without bond in the Arlington County Detention Facility.”

The press release added that “anyone with information related to this incident is asked to contact Detective J. McGrath at 703-228-4244 or [email protected].”

“Information may also be provided to the Arlington County Police Tip Line at [email protected] or anonymously through the Arlington County Crime Solvers hotline at 1-866-411-TIPS (8477),” said ACPD.

Photo courtesy Arlington County Police Department

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A local teen is in custody and two others are being sought by police after an alleged drug deal led to a serious assault.

The incident happened shortly after 11 p.m. last night in the Waycroft-Woodlawn neighborhood, near Ballston. Police say an arranged sale of narcotics ended with the victim being beaten with batons by several people.

The victim was hospitalized with serious but non-life-threatening injuries.

Police searched the area and arrested a 19-year-old suspect while he was walking along the nearby Custis Trail. Two other suspects have been identified and are expected to face charges, police said.

More from today’s Arlington County Police Department crime report:

MALICIOUS WOUNDING BY MOB, 2020-12140181, 4600 block of 13th Street N. At approximately 11:17 p.m. on December 14, police were dispatched to the report of a fight in progress. Arriving officers located the victim, who had sustained serious injuries, and rendered aid prior to the arrival of medics. The victim was transported to an area hospital with serious, but non life threatening injuries. The investigation determined that the victim and three suspects met for the arranged sale of narcotics, and a physical altercation ensued between the parties. The suspects allegedly struck the victim multiple times with batons, causing lacerations. A bystander yelled at the involved parties, at which time, the suspects fled on foot. Officers canvasing the area located Suspect One walking on the Custis Trail, made contact with him, and took him into custody without incident. Anthony Silvers, 19, of Arlington, Va., was arrested and charged with Malicious Wounding by Mob. He was held on no bond. The other involved suspects were identified and charges are pending.

Also on Monday, a pair of suspects broke into, damaged and stole from four businesses in Clarendon and East Falls Church.

From ACPD:

COMMERCIAL BURGLARY (series), 2020-12140035/0039/0052/0089, 2100 block of N. Westmoreland Street/1100 block of N. Hudson Street/ 3000 block of Washington Boulevard. Overnight on December 14, two unknown suspects forced entry to four businesses, causing damage. At approximately 2:27 a.m., the suspects forced entry to business one in the 2100 block of N. Westmoreland Street, tampered with items, and stole a safe. At approximately 2:20 a.m., the suspects forced entry to business two, also in the 2100 block of N. Westmoreland Street, and rummaged through items, however, nothing was reported stolen. Between 1:30 a.m. and 2:00 a.m., the suspects forced entry to a third business in the 1100 block of N. Hudson Street and stole a safe and an undisclosed amount of cash. At approximately 2:45 a.m., the suspects forced entry to a fourth business in the 3000 block of Washington Boulevard, and stole an undisclosed amount of cash. Suspect One is described as a tall male, wearing a light colored jacket with the hood up, dark pants, black shoes and light colored gloves. Suspect Two is described as a tall male, wearing a black sweatshirt with the hood up, black pants, white gloves, black shoes, and a light colored face wrap. The investigations are ongoing.

Map via Google Maps

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Two men who were allegedly caught inside a business during a burglary, but initially refused to come out, prompted a large police response over the weekend

The incident happened around 1:30 a.m. Saturday on the 2500 block of Wilson Blvd, roughly between Clarendon and Courthouse.

Police, after being flagged down and told 0f the possible burglary, spotted the men inside the business and ordered them to come out. After they refused a standoff ensued, and the U.S. Park Police helicopter and a SWAT team were called in.

“As Emergency Response Team officers prepared to make entry to the building, one suspect surrendered himself to police and was taken into custody without further incident,” said today’s Arlington County Police Department crime report. “The second suspect was located inside a closet during a search of the building and taken into custody without further incident.”

Two Arlington men, ages 46 and 34, were arrested and now face several burglary-related charges.

Police did not reveal which business was burglarized.

Photo via Google Maps

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Royal Pawn in Crystal City was burglarized this week by a pair of thieves who smashed their way in and stole a number of valuables.

The burglary happened early Tuesday morning. Police were dispatched to the store at 507 23rd Street S. around 4 a.m.

“Upon arrival, it was determined that two suspects forced entry to a business, causing damage, and stole numerous items of value,” according to the Arlington County Police Department.

“Suspect One is described as a male, 18-25 years old, 170-190 lbs., wearing a black mask, hoodie with the hood up, sweat pants, white sneakers, and wearing gloves,” ACPD said. “Suspect Two is described as a Black male, 18-25 years old, 160-170 lbs., wearing a white mask, a jacket with the hood up, pants, white sneakers, carrying a backpack, and wearing gloves.”

The suspects reportedly fled in a dark-colored Dodge Challenger.

Royal Pawn opened its 23rd Street location in Crystal City in 2017, replacing the former Grill Kabob restaurant. Alexander Rizer, vice president of the family-owned company — which some might recognize from its cable TV commercials that air during football games — said that he’s worried about a recent increase in crime.

“It seems more like the police department in the area has been stifled and has not been able to do their full duties,” Rizer said, adding that he has “nothing against the police department.”

“What it used to be before, we’d see Arlington PD going up and down the streets, everything was taken care of,” he explained. “Now we’re not seeing that as often anymore. Now we’re having to take measures into securing spaces much heavier.”

“We’ve made some drastic changes and it won’t be happening again, I can tell you that,” Rizer said of the burglary.

The store is currently “100% open” for business, he noted.

Jo DeVoe contributed to this report. Photo via Google Maps.

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