(Updated at 10:35 a.m.) Arlington residents woke up this morning to another day of gasoline shortages and lines at gas stations.
While the Colonial Pipeline has been restarted after last week’s cyberattack, it could take days for gasoline supplies along the East Coast and in the Southeast to return to normal, the pipeline company says. In the meantime, trying to fill up in Arlington requires patience.
Last night most if not all Arlington gas stations were out of gas, according to GasBuddy. Even the military gas station at Fort Myer was running low or out. At one BP station that still had gas yesterday evening, Arlington County deployed mobile signboard crews to close a lane of traffic along Lee Highway due to the long line.
In a quick survey of some parts of Arlington this morning, ARLnow saw some stations that were out of gas, while others were back in operation — with lines of drivers hoping to fill their tank.
Among the stations still awaiting a refill this morning was the Shell station near the corner of N. Glebe Road and Lee Highway. While the Exxon station across the street had gas — and a long line — the Shell station had handwritten “out of gas” signs on the pumps. One thing it did have: a CNN crew broadcasting reports for TV stations across the country.
As if the shortages weren’t bad enough, a car caught fire at one local gas station this morning. Initial reports suggest that a Volvo caught fire at the Liberty gas station at the corner of Columbia Pike and S. George Mason Drive shortly before 10:30 a.m. Damage to the building was reported, but there were no reports of injuries. Police helped to direct traffic while Arlington County firefighters extinguished the flames.
Colonial Pipeline, meanwhile, says it should be back supplying fuels across its system by midday today, raising hopes of a relatively swift return to normal at the pumps.
COLONIAL: “By mid-day today, we project that each market we service will be receiving product from our system.”#ColonialPipeline
— Carl Quintanilla (@carlquintanilla) May 13, 2021
(Updated at 4 p.m.) Arlington gas stations were busy Tuesday afternoon, but by nightfall lines formed at numerous stations as more drivers filled up in anticipation of potential shortages.
Virginia Gov. Ralph Northam declared a state of emergency today, in response to the cyberattack on the Colonial Pipeline system, a primary source of gasoline for stations across the state. The governor’s declaration is intended to address possible fuel shortages caused by the pipeline shutdown.
From a press release:
While the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has issued a temporary fuel transportation waiver to increase the supply of gasoline, the Governor’s emergency declaration allows state agencies to issue their own waivers as required by the state. Executive Order Seventy-Eight also provides increased flexibility and funding for state and local governments to ensure adequate fuel supply.
“This emergency declaration will help the Commonwealth prepare for any potential supply shortages and ensure Virginia motorists have access to fuel as we respond to this evolving situation,” said Governor Northam.
Earlier today, EPA Administrator Michael Regan issued an emergency fuel waiver to help alleviate fuel shortages in Virginia and other states whose supply of reformulated gasoline has been impacted by the pipeline shutdown. This waiver will continue through May 18, 2021.
In Arlington Tuesday night, nearly all gas stations along Lee Highway had lines of cars waiting to fuel up — and at least one had its pumps shut off with signs saying gas was “not available.”
Similar lines were seen in other parts of the county.
— Brian Gannon (@bgannon97) May 12, 2021
Amid the panic buying, officials say they hope to get most of the pipeline back up and running by the end of the week.
Already, as of Wednesday afternoon, more gas shortages were reported. At the Cherrydale five points intersection, for instance, both the Liberty and the Exxon stations were out of gas.
The People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals is hoping to fuel a discussion about dog sled races with a protest tomorrow at a local gas station.
PETA is planning a protest, starting at noon on Thursday, at the Exxon station on the corner of Old Dominion Drive and Military Road in Cherrydale. At issue: ExxonMobil’s support of the Iditarod dog race in Alaska.
“Because ExxonMobil continues to pump money into the deadly Iditarod dog race even as other sponsors have pulled out, PETA supporters armed with yellow caution tape and ‘blood’-filled gas jugs will ‘close’ a local ExxonMobil station for cruelty tomorrow,” the organization said in a media advisory this afternoon.
The action follows another PETA protest, in September, at ExxonMobil’s Texas headquarters.
More on why the Iditarod is worthy of protest, even as far away as Arlington, according to PETA:
“ExxonMobil has the shameful distinction of being one of the last major companies still sponsoring the Iditarod’s cruelty to dogs,” says PETA Executive Vice President Tracy Reiman. “PETA is urging it to stop propping up an evil industry that forces dogs to run so far and so fast that they often die after inhaling their own vomit.
Jack Daniel’s, Coca-Cola, Wells Fargo, Alaska Airlines, and many other companies cut ties with the race after PETA pointed out that more than 150 dogs have died in the Iditarod since it began. In addition to being tied up on mushers’ properties (as revealed in this PETA exposé), dogs are forced to pull heavy sleds across 1,000 miles through blinding blizzards and subzero temperatures.
More than 220 dogs were pulled off the trail during the 2020 race because of exhaustion, illness, injury, or other causes. One, Cool Cat, developed twisted intestines and almost died. Another, Betty, had pneumonia and was in critical condition, and two others refused to eat and had fevers, diarrhea, and persistent coughs.
Photo courtesy of PETA
(Updated at 11:35 a.m.) A man armed with a gun reportedly robbed the Sunoco at the corner of Washington Blvd and N. Glebe Road this morning.
The broad daylight robbery happened just before 9:45 a.m. Police are on scene and are currently searching for the suspect, who fled on foot.
No injuries have been reported.
Around 10:45 a.m., Arlington County police were notified of a robbery that just occurred at a gas station on the 6300 block of Leesburg Pike in Seven Corners, by a gun-wielding man with a similar description to that of the suspect in the Sunoco robbery.
@ARLnowDOTcom any idea what’s going on at corner of route 7 and 50 euro market gas station in 7 corners? Fairfax and Arlington police presence, closed down, helicopter circling.
— Mo (@momozig202) August 20, 2020
Someone pulled a gun on a store clerk and stole cash from a business on Lee Highway last night.
The armed robbery happened around 9:15 p.m. on the 5600 block of Lee Highway, a stretch that’s home to several gas stations.
Police say a man made a purchase at a business, then left, came back, and robbed it. He displayed a gun and was wearing a black mask and gloves at the time of the robbery, according to Arlington County Police.
More from an ACPD crime report:
ARMED ROBBERY, 2020-01210255, 5600 block of Lee Highway. At approximately 9:15 p.m. on January 21, police were dispatched to the report of an armed robbery. Upon arrival, it was determined that the male suspect entered a business, made a purchase and left. He then returned to the business and went behind the counter. The suspect displayed a firearm and stole an undisclosed amount of cash before fleeing prior to police arrival. The suspect is described as a black male, wearing grey pants, black boots, black gloves and a black mask. The investigation is ongoing.
Map via Google Maps
Arlington police say the large group of ATV and dirt bike riders that rolled through D.C. last night (Sunday) stole merchandise from a gas station near Rosslyn before assaulting an employee and smashing the station’s door.
Police believe dozens of bikers stopped at the Exxon station at 1824 Wilson Blvd around 6 p.m. Sunday, and began stealing from the station’s convenience store soon afterward. An employee tried to confront the group, and they promptly shoved him aside.
Police say the employee then locked the store’s doors to keep more bikers out, and “several suspects kicked the door, causing the glass to shatter.”
The bikers left the station before police arrived, and witnesses reported seeing them cross the Key Bridge into D.C. Police there impounded one bike after a rider ran into a light pole.
Full details from a county crime report:
ROBBERY, 2018-08190195, 1800 block of Wilson Boulevard. At approximately 6:00 p.m. on August 19, police were dispatched to the report that a large number of ATVs and dirt bikes had entered Arlington County. The riders arrived at a gas station in the 1800 block of Wilson Boulevard and allegedly began stealing merchandise. An employee was shoved by one of the suspects when he attempted to confront the group. In an attempt to prevent future thefts, the employee locked the doors of the business. Several suspects kicked the door, causing the glass to shatter. The suspects fled the area prior to police arrival with witnesses reporting observing ATV and dirt bike riders cross the Key Bridge into Washington, D.C. The investigation is ongoing.
For at least the second time this year, fraudsters have installed credit card skimmers at a gas station in Cherrydale.
Police say a skimming device was found inside a gas pump on the 4000 block of Old Dominion Drive yesterday afternoon, after customers of the gas station “reported fraudulent activity on their bank statements.”
The Arlington County Police Department is encouraging residents to take precautions when pumping gas, noting that new credit card skimmers are more sophisticated and “are undetectable without opening the pumps.”
More from an ACPD press release:
The Arlington County Police Department is warning the public about skimming devices used to steal banking and personal information.
At approximately 2:50 p.m. on Monday, September 18, police were dispatched to a gas station in the 4000 block of Old Dominion Drive for the report of a credit card skimming device located inside a gas pump. Citizens having used this location have reported fraudulent activity on their bank statements. Police are encouraging anyone who has used this gas station to review their bank statements for any fraudulent activity. If fraudulent activity is located, report to police by calling the Emergency Communication Center at 703-558-2222 or file an online police report.
Citizens can take the following crime prevention steps to avoid skimmers at gas stations:
- Skimming devices have become more sophisticated. In most cases, the skimmers are being placed inside the machine and are undetectable without opening the pumps.
- Pay inside at the gas station, rather than at the pump.
- Always pay using a credit card instead of a debit card. Credit cards have better fraud protection, and the money is not deducted immediately from an account.
- If using a debit card at the pump, choose to run it as a credit card instead of putting a PIN number in. That way, the PIN number is safe.
- Consider purchasing a refillable prepaid card to purchase gas at the pumps.
- If you have not already switched to a chip reader on your credit card, do so.
- Regularly check your bank statements and if you notice fraudulent activity, notify the bank so they can begin an investigation.
Criminals will use a variety of different scams and the Arlington County Police Department wants the public to remain alert so you don’t become a victim. Individuals seeking more information about fraud can visit our website or contact the Arlington County Police Department’s Financial Crimes Unit at [email protected] .
Photo via Google Maps
Arlington County drivers will have been feeling the effects of Hurricanes Harvey and Irma at the pump, with gas prices spiking by up to 30 cents a gallon or more locally.
Harvey hit oil refineries throughout Texas, with about one-quarter of oil refining capacity on the Gulf Coast being temporarily shut down, according to AAA. And in Arlington and elsewhere in the U.S., prices have spiked as the refineries get back up and running and damage to their systems and pipelines is assessed.
As of Wednesday, prices at the Shell and Speedway stations near Clarendon were $2.69 a gallon for unleaded gas, up from the former price of around $2.30 a gallon.
Despite a spike of around $0.30 cents since the hurricanes, Virginia remains one of the least expensive states to buy gas, at just over $2.50 a gallon on average, according to GasBuddy.com.
“As in any national or local state of emergency, AAA expects gas prices to be held in check up and down the gasoline supply chain, including prices set by refiners, distributors and dealers unless there is a clearly justifiable reason for an increase,” Jeanette Casselano, a AAA spokeswoman, said.
AAA is also warning anyone looking to buy a car to be careful of buying a flood-damaged used car. When major storms trigger flooding, thousands of totaled cars are shipped out of the affected area and can end up on the used car market elsewhere in the country. As many as a million vehicles may have been submerged by Harvey, AAA said last week.
Sometimes, buyers can be unaware a car has been repaired after being damaged by floodwater. Cars are meticulously dried out, scoured and scrubbed, then the title is “washed,” where it is moved from state to state until it is branded as repairable. They are then sold on by what AAA described as “unscrupulous sellers and fly-by-night operators.”
In a statement, John B. Townsend II, AAA Mid-Atlantic’s manager of public and government affairs, said:
“Use your five senses to detect telltale signs a vehicle has been flooded. Then use your sixth sense. Look for a waterline under the hood, undercarriage and bumpers; for mud and debris inside the cabin and trunk; for signs of rust, and for fogging inside the headlights and taillights. Use your sense of smell to detect the scent of disinfectants or cleansing agents used to cloak musty smells or mold or mildew. Touch the carpet or floor mats for residual traces of wetness or for signs that the carpets, seats and interiors were recently shampooed.
“Listen to the engine to check if it runs smoothly, or runs rough, or makes abnormal noises as it runs. Also listen to the sound system, to check if the electronics are working properly, because some mechanical and electronic components don’t survive flooding. Curiously, the term ‘lemon,’ a slang first used to describe a ‘worthless thing’ and then ‘a defective car,’ stems from a metaphor for ‘something that leaves a foul or bad taste in your mouth.’ That could happen to you if you buy a flood-damaged vehicle.
“Then rely upon your intuition, instincts, and ‘mother wit.’ Flooded cars are not always totaled and 50 percent are eventually resold. But most of all, use your common sense, and always purchase a vehicle history report or obtain a free VIN report for any vehicle suspected of having a watery past.”
After a spate of credit card skimming devices being discovered at gas stations across the region this year, including in Arlington, AAA Mid-Atlantic is warning motorists to be extra cautious when paying at the pump.
Several gas stations in Cherrydale as well as a Shell station on S. Four Mile Run Drive appeared to have been hit by the skimmers earlier this year. The skimmers are installed inside pumps and ATMs and copy customers’ card information for fraudulent use by criminals, who use Bluetooth technology to receive the stolen credit card numbers in seconds.
Anyone who suspects a skimmer in their gas pump can check by jiggling the credit card slot to see if it is askew or asymmetrical.
More from John B. Townsend II, AAA Mid-Atlantic’s Manager of Public and Government Affairs:
The caper may crop up, lawmen forewarn, in other counties, cities and communities across the Greater Washington area, as dodgy perpetrators try to stay steps ahead of the reach of the law’s long arm and catch local consumers unawares as they purchase fuel. To safeguard your debit or credit card, and protect your finances, only buy gas at stations that affix security seals to the fuel dispenser. Always remember the motto ‘Let the buyer beware’ (caveat emptor) when making a gas transaction.
This year, skimmers have been discovered in parts of Maryland as well as Alexandria, Bailey’s Crossroads, Centreville, Tysons Corner, Vienna, and in areas around Prince William and Frederick counties. In the last 12 months, AAA said, Fairfax County Police have removed “21 individual skimmers from 15 different locations.”
AAA gave the following advice to those using self-service gas pumps:
- Park at pumps close to the front door of the gas station if possible. Criminals tend to install the skimmers on an outside pump farthest from where the clerks can see them.
- Check for Bluetooth skimmers embedded inside pumps at a gas station using your cell phone. Turn on your Bluetooth setting and look for a series of random numbers and letters. It may be a telltale sign a Bluetooth-enabled skimming device is interleaved into the gas kiosk. Do not connect to the Bluetooth device.
- Make sure the gas pump panel is closed and inspect the card reader at the pump. Look for signs of tampering. If it looks like it’s been opened or its security tape has been broken, inform the cashier and do not use that pump.
- Pay for your gas inside the store.
- Use cash instead of your credit card.
- Monitor your bank statements constantly. Look for overdraft notices. Skimming criminals may wait months before using your information and then go on a sudden spending spree.
Photo via Google Maps
It’s an ongoing problem: thieves using “skimmer” devices to steal credit and debit card information from unsuspecting customers of local businesses.
Arlington’s Cherrydale neighborhood appears to be the latest target of the skimmer scammers.
Reports a resident:
Maywood listserv lighting up with reports of multiple people getting their credit cards skimmed recently. Most people point to common thread of Liberty Gas station on Lee Highway (and a few other likely places in the area) as common thread. But that is not 100% clear.
In most cases, someone buys gas here. Later someone tries to purchase gas in California. Per Cherrydale listserv earlier, it looks like Arlington Police already found a “skimmer” machine earlier at Exxon across the street, but these are new reports from another potential location.
Arlington County Police Department spokeswoman Ashley Savage confirmed at least a portion of the neighborhood scuttlebutt.
Here’s what she said via email to ARLnow.com:
Our Financial Crimes Unit received reports of possible credit card skimming at the Liberty Gas station. They responded to the area and during their investigation did not identify a point of compromise at this location. On March 9 at approximately 1:57 p.m., police responded to the Exxon gas station in the 4000 block of Old Dominion Drive for the report of a recovered credit card skimmer. That investigation is ongoing.
These type of cases are typically reported to police as credit card fraud and since we use credit cards for almost all purchases (online, in person, groceries, gas, etc.) the challenge is identifying the point of compromise. Turnaround time from point of compromise to first fraudulent use varies depending on how the suspects intend to use the stolen data. Police work closely with banking institutes who notify us when there is a trend with customers cards being compromised and they identify the location all the cards have in common.
There are some things citizens can do to protect themselves:
- You will not know if a gas pump has a skimmers. In most cases, the skimmers are being placed inside the machine.
- Pay inside at the gas station rather than at the pump.
- Always pay using credit rather than debit – it’s easier to dispute the charges and isn’t linked directly to your bank account.
- If you haven’t switched to a chip reader on your credit card, do so.
- Regularly check your bank statements and if you notice fraudulent activity, notify the bank so they can begin an investigation.
- If you find you were the victim of fraud, file a police report.
Photo via Google Maps
Skimmers Found on Gas Pumps — Arlington County Police are investigating credit card skimmers that were found on gas pumps at the Shell station on S. Four Mile Run Drive. [NBC Washington]
‘Project DAPS’ Now Online — An Arlington Public Library project to digitize records, photos and oral histories of the effort to desegregate schools in Arlington County went online last month. Arlington “defied the state” when the first black students began attending Stratford Junior High in January 1959, though it would take another 12 years before county schools were fully integrated. [WAMU]
Candidate Withdraws from Delegate Race — It’s the shortest local primary challenge in recent memory. Alexandria City School Board member Karen Graf, who announced on Feb. 6 that she was challenging Del. Mark Levine (D-45) for the Democratic nomination, has withdrawn from the race. Levine’s 45th House of Delegates district includes part of Arlington. [Alexandria News]
Some Still Skeptical of High Water Bills — “Ridiculous” is how one local civic association president described Arlington County’s conclusion that big spikes in water bills charged to some homeowners last year were not the result of systematic errors. [InsideNova]
New Vape Store in Ballston — “House of Vape, one of the fastest growing retail vape chains in the Mid-Atlantic region, has opened a new brick and mortar store in Arlington, Virginia, near the Ballston Metro station.” [PR Rocket]
Flickr pool photo by Lisa Novak