Arlington, VA

Arlington County Police are investigating a robbery at the Fashion Centre at Pentagon City.

Initial reports suggest that multiple suspects stole items from the Superdry store in the mall, then fled in a vehicle by ramming one of the mall parking garage gates.

Police followed the vehicle over the 14th Street Bridge and into the District, where the driver crashed into another vehicle near the 12th Street ramp, and all five suspects — believed to be juveniles — ran off, according to scanner traffic. The Superdry merchandise was reportedly tossed into the water below by the fleeing suspects.

So far, there’s no word of any arrests.

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(Updated 8/10) Fashion Centre at Pentagon City is substantially less crowded than it used to be — particularly the food court, back in the heyday of Popeyes chicken sandwiches — but it is busier than might be expected during a pandemic.

In the mall’s food court, while some fast food options are open, others remain closed. Gyro Wrap and Charley’s Philly Steaks are locked up, with a sign on the metal shutter for the latter saying the closure is temporary and the eatery will be returning at some point.

The space that had been Subway is closed, with the Fashion Centre website saying it will eventually be replaced by a new restaurant called Flaming Cajun. The Fashion Centre website says the location is scheduled to open Sept. 4.

Dining in the food court is spaced out, with the crowded booths cordoned off and the handful of diners spaced out across scattered tables. Security guards at various entrances offer protective equipment and sanitary supplies.

Despite officially reopening in late May, the rest of the mall is a similarly mixed bag, with some stores like Gamestop open with limited numbers of guests allowed inside while others remain closed.

“The health, safety and well-being of the community we serve will always be our highest priority, and we have developed a thorough and detailed set of protocols highlighting the exceptional measures we’ve implemented for shoppers, retailers and employees as we reopen,” Jonathan Juricic, General Manager at Fashion Centre at Pentagon City, said in a press release. “We also recognize that individuals and families in our community are suffering significant hardship as a result of both COVID-19 and the economic shutdown, and we believe that reopening our property will not only help people get back to work during these challenging times, but also enable us to use our property to further support charitable initiatives.”

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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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Arlington County has taken an initial step towards the construction of a new elevator for the Pentagon City Metro station.

At a recent meeting, the County Board approved a nearly $750,000 contract with a construction consultancy to manage construction of a new elevator near the Fashion Centre at Pentagon City mall. The new elevator will provide an alternative to an existing Metro elevator on the eastern side of the street, which will also receive some upgrades as part of the $5.1 million project.

“The second elevator will be built on the west side of South Hayes Street, eliminating the need to cross six lanes of traffic, two parking lanes, and a bike lane to reach the existing elevator on the east side,” Arlington County said in a press release. “It will improve ADA accessibility and accessibility for passengers pushing strollers or luggage.”

Funding for the project “comes from federal and state sources and includes $200,000 in General Obligation bond funds, which are used as a local match for a federal grant,” the county said.

Bidding for the actual construction is expected to take place early next year.

More from a project webpage:

The Pentagon City Metrorail Station is one of the highest ridership Metro stations in northern Virginia. It provides access to multiple retail, government and commercial office buildings and is a transfer point for regional and local transit buses and numerous private bus services. Currently, passengers needing to use a street elevator to access the station must enter or exit on the east side of South Hayes Street.

Construction of a second elevator on the west side of South Hayes Street, near the existing west side escalator, will improve access for patrons making transit connections and for Pentagon City retail customers and tourists. It also will provide redundancy for this station entrance when one elevator is out of service for any reason. The project includes improving the appearance of the existing elevator on the east side of South Hayes Street to make it look more contemporary and visible to customers.

Photos via Arlington County and Google Maps

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Morning Notes

VHC Staff Honored by NYSE — Two radiation therapists at Virginia Hospital Center, Melinda Mack and Amanda Sprecher, were honored during the opening bell ringing at the New York Stock Exchange yesterday. [Twitter]

Tomorrow is Arlington’s ‘Community Day’ — “A beloved Arlington tradition, Neighborhood Day brings communities together to enjoy the great outdoors and strengthens ties between neighbors.  In our currently socially-distant world, Neighborhood Day 2020 (May 2) is swapping out the traditional outdoor get-togethers and focusing on how Arlingtonians can build community while staying apart.” [Arlington County]

Fundraiser for Shelter Employee Bonuses — “I’m raising money to benefit four emergency shelters in Arlington County. The front line staff at these organizations are heroes who risk their personal health and wellness for those most vulnerable. I want to offer each front line staff member a $5/ hour bonus for their selfless work for at least two weeks.” [GoFundMe, Facebook]

Courtland Towers Store to Become Apartments — “It’ll soon be ‘bye, bye, bodega,’ as Arlington County Board members are allowing the owner of the Courtland Towers apartments in the Courthouse area to replace its longstanding ground-floor convenience store with four additional residential units and other amenities for residents. The proposal had generated pushback from nearby residents and garnered formal opposition from the Clarendon-Courthouse Civic Federation.” [InsideNova]

Roots Closing at Pentagon City Mall — “Toronto clothing retailer Roots Corp. said Wednesday it will close both its stores in Greater Washington. The closure of outposts in Georgetown and at the Fashion Centre at Pentagon City come as part of the liquidation of the apparel company’s U.S. subsidiary through a Chapter 7 bankruptcy filing — a measure being taken to close the stores quickly and in a cost-effective manner, the company said.” [Washington Business Journal]

Fund Created for Local Immigrants in Need — “The Dream Project, a nonprofit organization offering educational assistance to immigrants in Northern Virginia through scholarships and mentoring, has established an emergency relief fund to help immigrant students and families who are struggling due to the COVID-19 pandemic.” [Press Release]

Hotel Donates Rooms to County — An unnamed hotel in Arlington has donated rooms to the county to serve as Permanent Supportive Housing for up to 16 people, reducing their risk of COVID-19 exposure. [Arlington County]

Electric Bills Going Down This Month — “Dominion Energy says Virginia customers will see a $6 discount on their billing each month starting on May 1. ‘The cost of fuel has gone down and we’re passing the savings directly on to customers,’ Dominion Energy said.” [NBC 12 Richmond]

New County Initiative Tackling Hunger — “Arlington County announced a new initiative for the coronavirus era: the Cooperative for a Hunger Free Arlington. We talked to those heading the group — Abby Raphael, Diane Kresh and Amy Maclosky — about what it is and how they plan to help during these tough times.” [Facebook, Apple Podcasts]

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The Fashion Centre at Pentagon City closed last night and is expected to remain closed until at least the end of the month.

Mall owner Simon Property Group announced yesterday that it would close all of its U.S. shopping centers, including the Pentagon City mall, which has one of the company’s busiest and most profitable food courts.

More from the announcement:

After extensive discussions with federal, state and local officials and in recognition of the need to address the spread of COVID-19, Simon will close all of its retail properties, including Malls, Premium Outlets and Mills in the U.S. This measure will take effect from 7 pm local time on March 18 and will end on March 29*.

“The health and safety of our shoppers, retailers and employees is of paramount importance and we are taking this step to help reduce the spread of COVID-19 in our communities,” said David Simon, Chairman, Chief Executive Officer and President of Simon.

Even before the closure, the coronavirus outbreak kept most people away from the usually-busy mall. And department store anchors Macy’s and Nordstrom both closed nationwide on Tuesday.

https://twitter.com/steezyysosa/status/1239714857399857154

A day before the closure, an employee of one of the mall’s stores told ARLnow that he was worried about the risk of disease from keeping the mall open.

“I am writing to you from my store now (I am required to be open while the mall is open) and there are about 30-40 people sitting in the food court eating. Coming in and shopping. Raising the risk of spreading COVID-19,” the employee wrote. “We as employees are calling out for help as we are constantly at risk of exposure. Our complaints to management go unnoticed. They have limited business hours, but that has only concentrated the amount of people in the mall to a shorter time.”

Ballston Quarter mall, meanwhile, remains open, though as of earlier this week customers were few and far between. The mall said stores and restaurants were free to close if deemed necessary.

“We are closely monitoring the rapidly evolving COVID-19 pandemic and will continue to provide updates via our website,” the mall said on its website. “Effective Monday, March 16, the shopping center will operate between noon and 7 p.m. every day except for Sunday, when the hours are noon to 6 p.m.”

“We recognize that, in light of concerns surrounding the coronavirus, retailers and merchants may implement their own corporate policies regarding modified hours or temporary store closures,” Ballston Quarter said. “Please make sure to check the restaurant or store hours prior to visiting.”

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Morning Notes

Mass Cancelled at Catholic Churches — “On Monday, March 16, 2020, Bishop Michael F. Burbidge, Diocese of Arlington… announced that the public celebration of all Masses in the Diocese is suspended until further notice.” [Press Release]

Food Donations Needed — “We have already seen a sharp decrease in food donations from our local grocery stores. AFAC has begun to purchase more food to offset the drop of food available on our shelves. Please think about making a donation to AFAC to help us keep our warehouse full for our families in need.” [Arlington Food Assistance Center]

Regional Park Facilities Closed — “While park and facilities are open for individual use, programs organized by NOVA Parks are canceled. All NOVA Parks facilities and buildings will be closed beginning at the close of business on March 16 and remaining closed for at least two weeks. Many parks will remain open for passive use – trails, general visitation, etc.” [NOVA Parks]

Community Centers Closed — The following Arlington rec centers are closed: Aurora Hills Community Center, Barcroft Sports & Fitness Center, Carver Community Center, Charles Drew Community Center, Gulf Branch Nature Center, Gunston Community Center, Hendry House, Lee Community Center, Long Branch Nature Center and Madison Community Center. The Fairlington, Walter Reed, Arlington Mill, Thomas Jefferson and Langston-Brown community centers remain open with modified hours. [Arlington County]

Pentagon City Mall: Before and After — Photos of the Pentagon City mall food court before and after the coronavirus outbreak shows a stark difference: bustling before vs. nearly deserted after. [Twitter]

White House: Avoid Gatherings of 10+ — “The White House’s coronavirus task force announced tougher guidelines on Monday to help slow the spread of the disease, including limiting social gatherings of more than 10 people.” [Axios]

It’s St. Patrick’s Day — Enjoy a Guinness at home because most places to celebrate are closed, or at least should be. [Old Farmer’s Almanac]

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Morning Notes

List of County Gov’t Changes — “With cases in the region, including Arlington, we are taking critical steps to slow down the spread of the coronavirus (COVID-19), as the health and safety of our employees and our community is our top priority. While we will be making changes to some programs and services, we will continue to operate essential government services for our residents and businesses.” [Arlington County]

Visits Cancelled at County Jail — “All Professional Visits will be non-contact for a minimum of 30 days. All Personal Visits will be cancelled for a minimum of 30 days. All programs will be cancelled for a minimum of 30 days.” [Arlington County]

Jury Trials Postponed — “As of March 15, the Circuit Court has postponed all jury trials & released witnesses from subpoenas through March 31. Other hearings & sentencing dockets are also postponed. See attached. Arraignments & bond motions will still be heard.” [Twitter]

Metro Reduces Service — “As of 2 p.m., Friday, March 13, Metro has further escalated its response to Phase 3 of its Pandemic Flu Plan. Phase 3 is the highest level of response and will include all subsequent mitigation steps required during the public health emergency… Monday-Friday: Trains will operate every 12 minutes on each line throughout the day. The rail system will maintain normal hours, opening at 5 a.m.” [WMATA]

Visitor Restrictions at Va. Hospital Center — “Effective March 12, we have implemented new visitation restrictions to protect the health and safety of our patients and staff from the spread of COVID-19.” [Instagram]

Restaurant Delivering Free Meals — “Between the empty grocery store shelves, scary headlines, and mass closures, it’s hard not to feel like the world is ending. Which is why Medium Rare owner Mark Bucher wanted to do something to make people’s lives a little easier. So yesterday, he posted a message on Twitter: If anyone over the age of 70 needed a meal, his restaurant would make sure they got one.” [Washingtonian]

Few Crowds at Pentagon City Mall — The Fashion Centre at Pentagon City mall was “almost dead” at noon on Saturday as most shoppers sayed away. Meanwhile, a reader took a video of people in full body suits in the Victoria’s Secret store; it’s unclear whether they were cleaning the store or otherwise. [Twitter, Twitter]

Crash on N. Glebe Road Saturday — A crash at N. Glebe Road and Pershing Drive sent a car careening into a lamp post, over a sidewalk and smashing into the parking lot of the Buckingham Center strip mall on Saturday. [Twitter]

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An Ohio-based company that offers boozy, candy-covered gifts is planning to open at Pentagon City mall, according to a permit filing.

Bliss in a Bottle, which previously opened a kiosk at Tysons Corner Center, sells beer and wine bottles covered in chocolate, sprinkles and other candies.

“In the perfect pairing, flavors from different families collide, creating a taste explosion that sends a wake-up call from your mouth to your brain. It’s not just delicious. It’s a truly novel experience,” says the company’s Facebook page. “Our fine Belgian chocolate, hand-painted on to a wine bottle covered with a removable food grade sleeve, is a feast for the eyes as well as the taste buds.”

The company, which also has a location at Westfield Montgomery mall in Bethesda, has been expanding via franchising. So far there’s no word on an opening date for the Pentagon City location.

A video, below, shows how customers can peel the chocolate off the bottle before opening.

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A carjacking suspect made a successful getaway in Pentagon City Friday night, even as Arlington County Police have stepped up patrols in the area after a series of carjackings and robberies.

Police say they were patrolling parking garages in the area of the Pentagon City mall when they were flagged down by a victim who was assaulted by a man with a gun. Shortly thereafter, just before 11 p.m., police received a report of an armed carjacking nearby.

The victim’s vehicle was located on Army Navy Drive and police attempted to pursue it, but the suspect fled at a high rate of speed across the 14th Street Bridge into D.C. and officers were not able to catch up, according to ACPD.

More from a police press release:

The Arlington County Police Department’s Homicide/Robbery Unit is investigating two armed robberies that occurred in Pentagon City Garages on the evening of February 21, 2020.

At approximately 10:25 p.m., an officer conducting proactive patrol inside a parking garage in the 1100 block of S. Hayes Street was flagged down for assistance by the victim. The victim stated he had been sitting inside his parked vehicle looking at his cell phone when he heard a knock at the window and observed an unknown male suspect brandishing a firearm. The victim exited the vehicle and was assaulted by the suspect. The victim screamed and the suspect fled the scene on foot. The victim was treated on scene by medics for minor injuries. A lookout was broadcast, and officers canvased the area for the suspect.

At approximately 10:50 p.m., while investigating the above-mentioned incident, police were dispatched to the report of a carjacking inside the garage in the 900 block of Army Navy Drive. Upon arrival, it was determined that at approximately 10:34 p.m., the victim entered the garage, parked his vehicle and observed the suspect acting suspiciously. The victim left the area but immediately returned to check on his vehicle. Upon returning, the suspect confronted the victim, brandished a firearm and demanded the victim’s keys. The suspect fled the scene in a black Honda Civic with Virginia license plate UND4813.

Responding officers observed the suspect driving eastbound on Army Navy Drive. At the intersection of Army Navy Drive and Fern Street, the suspect ran a red light and fled the scene at a high rate of speed into the northbound lanes of I-395 HOV. The officers activated their emergency equipment and pursued the vehicle but were unable to maintain contact due to the extreme speed of the suspect vehicle. The suspect vehicle was last seen entering Washington D.C.

The suspect is described as a black male in his mid 20’s, approximately 6 feet tall, 165 – 175 pounds with short black hair and a light amount of facial hair. He was wearing a black jacket, dark jeans and dark sneakers at the time of the incident.

Police are investigating these incidents as a series with the earlier reported carjackings in the area. The series remains an active and ongoing criminal investigation with detectives continuing to follow-up on investigative leads. Anyone with information related to this investigation is asked to contact Detective S. King of the Homicide/Robbery Unit at 703-228-4243 or [email protected] Information may also be provided anonymously through the Arlington County Crime Solvers hotline at ‪1-866-411-TIPS (8477).

Safety Tips and Crime Prevention Measures

The department continues to deploy increased police resources, to include both visible and non-visible assets, in the Pentagon City area. As part of our investigative efforts into these incidents, detectives are working collaboratively with regional law enforcement partners to identify crime trends and apprehend suspect(s).

The department’s efforts to prevent crime in Arlington County are enhanced by the active involvement of the public. If you observe suspicious activity or are the victim of a crime, contact police immediately by calling the Emergency Communications Center at 703-558-2222 or 911 in an emergency.

Police are reminding the public to follow these safety tips:

  • Exit your vehicle and continue to your destination promptly after parking
  • Park in well-lit, high traffic areas.
  • Be aware of your surroundings when entering and exiting your vehicle
  • Limit your use of devices that may distract you, such as cell phones and headphones
  • Don’t leave items unattended or visible in your vehicle

Flickr pool photo by Kevin Wolf

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A pair of incidents at Arlington’s two shopping malls led to four arrests and charges against six people.

The first incident happened Wednesday afternoon at the Pentagon City mall. Around 3 p.m., according to Arlington County Police, two juvenile suspects shoplifted from a store and were soon thereafter located by officers at the Pentagon City Metro station. One of the suspects lashed out violently, spitting on and hitting officers, according to police.

More from an ACPD crime report:

ASSAULT ON LAW ENFORCEMENT, 2020-02190151, 1100 block of S. Hayes Street. At approximately 2:56 p.m. on February 19, police were dispatched to the report of shoplifting. Upon arrival, it was determined that suspects allegedly entered a business, stole items of value, and fled on foot. A lookout was broadcast and arriving officers located the juvenile suspects on the metro platform. One suspect actively resisted by pushing, elbowing and spitting on the two arresting officers. Once detained, she continued to resist and kicked two additional officers. Petitions for Assault and Battery on Police (x4) and Obstruction of Justice were sought for Suspect One. Petitions for Petit Larceny, Fugitive from Justice and Identity Theft were sought for Suspect Two.

Later Wednesday evening, four juvenile suspects allegedly shoplifted from a store at the Ballston Quarter mall. A security officer who tried to chase after and stop the group was pepper sprayed by one of the suspects, police say.

In coordination with Metro Transit Police, two suspects were later taken into custody at the Rosslyn Metro station.

From the crime report:

MALICIOUS WOUNDING BY CAUSTIC SUBSTANCE, 2020-02190225, 700 block of N. Glebe Road. At approximately 7:26 p.m. on February 19, police were dispatched to the report of an assault with injury. Upon arrival, it was determined that the victim was working as loss prevention for a business when he observed a group of juvenile suspects allegedly selecting and concealing merchandise. When he attempted to stop the group as they exited the business, they fled. The victim attempted to chase the suspects when one suspect allegedly dropped the merchandise he had, then pepper sprayed the victim. A lookout was broadcast and officers located and made contact with the suspects at the Rosslyn Metro Station and, with the assistance of Metro Transit Police, took them into custody without incident. Petitions were obtained for Suspect One for Malicious Wounding by Caustic Agent, Robbery, Grand Larceny and Possession of Burglarous Tools. Petitions for Conspiracy to Commit Felony and Grand Larceny were obtained for Suspect Two. Two additional suspects remain outstanding.

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