Arlington County Police are now warning residents to be wary of any cleaner from an online service who refuses to give his or her last name and phone number. The department recommends the use of a home video security system for those who cannot be at home during the cleaning.
ACPD spokeswoman Ashley Savage declined to name the online cleaning service in question, citing “the integrity of ongoing cases.” She did, however, specify that the “cleaners are contractors signed up with an online cleaning service that does the scheduling on their behalf.”
The most prominent company to fit that definition is Handy. The New York City-based startup recently raised $50 million in venture funding, valuing the company around half a billion dollars. It has been criticized for its classification of cleaners as independent contractors.
So far, Handy has not responded to an inquiry from ARLnow.com. On its website, Handy says its cleaners are “experienced, friendly, background-checked, and insured.”
The police department issued an infographic (above) and the following statement about the online cleaning-related thefts.
The Arlington County Police Department has seen an increase in thefts from homes that have utilized online cleaning services. While a burglar has to break into an unsuspecting home, the same results can happen by giving unknown people access to your home. Below are a few things to consider before allowing any service provider into your home.
- How long has the service been in business in your community?
- Did you receive a favorable recommendation from friends or family?
- Does the service have the appropriate permits to conduct business?
- Is the service licensed properly with the County or the State?
When searching for an online cleaning service, it is suspicious of subcontractors to only provide partial names or to fail to provide telephone numbers. While there are many legitimate service providers, it is always recommended you remain present when the service is being provided and that you place all valuables in a secure area prior to their arrival.
If it is not possible for you to remain at home while the service is being provided and you can’t have a friend or family member assist you, you may want to reschedule for another time or consider monitoring the activity with a home video security system. These systems can be monitored via the web or your smartphone.
You work hard for things you have purchased. Help us to help you enjoy the fruits of your labor and avoid being a victim of theft.
A local online cleaning service, Maids in Black, said via a spokeswoman that it is “not a part of this investigation.”
“We pride ourself on hiring trustworthy employees who all must pass a background screening to ensure only the highest quality of service,” said Joanna Kalita. “These instances are quite unfortunate, however, in no way connected to Maids In Black.”
Police responded to the complex on the 2000 block of N. Daniel Street, just off Lee Highway, around 2:30 p.m. for a report of a man stabbing himself with a knife.
Arriving officers told dispatchers that there was a man down and asked paramedics to expedite to the scene. Shortly thereafter, however, it was reported that the man had died.
The man’s wife and child were in an adjacent apartment at the time of the incident, according to initial reports.
A police spokeswoman confirmed that investigators were remaining on scene to investigate the man’s death. There is no threat to the public, police said.
If you or someone you know is experiencing thoughts of suicide, help is a phone call away. Call CrisisLink at 703-527-4077.
A car slammed into a low stone wall outside of a home at the corner of N. Harrison Street and 26th Street N. this afternoon.
The single-vehicle crash happened around 1:30 p.m., not far from the Lee-Harrison shopping center and Yorktown High School.
An adult male driver was the only occupant inside the car, a gray Oldsmobile, when emergency crews arrived. He was reported to be semi-conscious after the crash and not responding to police commands. A fire department rescue squad was dispatched to the scene to remove the man from the car.
The driver was transported to Virginia Hospital Center for evaluation. The cause of the crash and the cause of the driver’s semi-conscious state is still under investigation, a police spokeswoman said.
A large portion of the wall and some shrubbery was destroyed by the crash, but no other injuries were reported.
Nahome Gebrekidan, of no fixed address, was arrested Monday afternoon on the western end of Columbia Pike in Arlington.
Police say a woman was walking down the street just before 4:00 p.m., when she passed a man later identified as Gebrekidan.
“After they passed one another, she felt a hand go between her legs, touching her genitals over her jeans,” said Arlington County Police spokeswoman Ashley Savage. “The suspect did not say anything to the victim and continued to walk westbound on Columbia Pike.”
Gebrekidan has been charged with sexual battery and being drunk in public. His next court date is scheduled for Feb. 5.
Court records show that Gebrekidan has been charged with being drunk in public 18 times in Fairfax County and Alexandria alone, over the past four and a half years. He has also faced minor charges like trespassing and disorderly conduct in those jurisdictions.
The incident happened around 10:45 p.m. Monday, on the 2700 block of 16th Street S. Police say a pizza delivery driver — a spokeswoman declined to say from which company — was delivering an order on the street but didn’t have an exact address.
Three women in their 20s, who were wearing dark clothing, flagged the driver down and said they ordered the pizza. Then, according to a police report, they pepper sprayed the driver and ran off with two pizzas.
So far, police do not have any suspects or specific suspect descriptions.
Baby Jesus was stolen from outside Calvary United Methodist Church (2315 S. Grant Street), in the Aurora Highlands neighborhood, sometime between 8 p.m. Saturday and the next morning, when parishioners showed up for Sunday worship services.
Police were called and took a report Monday, though hopes of cops catching the perpetrator are low. Rev. Matthew G. Smith said he’s hoping the thief has a change of heart and repents — by returning the Son of God to his rightful place in the manger, at least until the nativity scene is brought inside next weekend. Alternatively, the little Lord could also be left on the front steps of the church or brought, in person, to the front office.
“We have no desire to prosecute,” Smith said. “We would be very happy just to get Him back.”
“Baby Jesus missing,” said a sign posted in front of the nativity scene today. “Please return. No questions asked.”
(No other nativity thefts were reported this year in Arlington, according to an ACPD spokeswoman.)
This was the third time Jesus had been swiped from the church’s nativity scene, and if all works out it wouldn’t be the first time He has been returned, Smith said. The first time, years ago, Jesus mysteriously reappeared in the nativity scene on Christmas morning.
The last time, a few years back, baby Jesus vanished for good. A parishioner ended up ordering a new, hand-painted figure of the young Prince of Peace from Italy and donated it to the church as a replacement.
Before the nativity scene was put on display a few weeks ago, in mid-December, Smith and some church members discussed ways to prevent theft. The nativity scene itself is bolted down, but the Italian baby Jesus is too fragile to be secured in a permanent fashion. While many ideas were proposed, the one that was implemented involved tying fishing line around the porcelain figure. That did not save the Savior; the fishing line was cut by the thief.
Smith said he expects there to be more discussion of nativity security ahead of 2016’s Christmas season. Should the Christ child not be returned, the church will also have to consider raising funds to buy a new one. The pastor said he wasn’t sure of the cost of a new porcelain baby Jesus, but said of the Italian-made model that was stolen, “I’m certain it’s not inexpensive.”
“We will look for ways next year,” to secure baby Jesus, he said, “but we don’t want to chain him in.”
Either way, said Smith, “it’s not going to sour our love of the community or our mission.”
Photo via Facebook
(Updated at 5:15 p.m.) Arlington County Police are on the scene of an attempted bank robbery in Rosslyn.
The incident happened around 4:45 p.m. at the Wells Fargo Bank on the 1300 block of Wilson Blvd.
Initial reports suggest a man came into the bank and passed a note to the teller, but then panicked and ran off. No weapon was seen.
The suspect is described as a black male in his 20s or 30s, wearing a surgical mask and a beard, along with a blue cap, construction boots and a small backpack.
Police say they’re still investigating the alleged incident, which occurred around 9:40 p.m.
From this week’s Arlington County crime report:
INDECENT EXPOSURE, 151228062, 3100 block of N. Wilson Boulevard. At approximately 9:40 p.m. on December 28, a male subject was seen masturbating outside of a restaurant. The investigation is ongoing.
The rest of the crime report, after the jump.
The incident happened around 11 a.m. Monday, at the suspect’s house on the 2700 block of S. Grove Street in the Arlington Ridge neighborhood, near Crystal City.
Police say 50-year-old Joseph N. Mondello “refused to let a computer technician leave the residence until his computer was fixed.” Mondello also “allegedly had a gun in his possession and threatened to kill the victim,” according to an Arlington County Police Department crime report.
Mondello, who’s a registered lobbyist, was charged with abduction by force or intimidation and use of a firearm in a felony, according to court records. The abduction charge can carry a sentence of anything from a couple of months in jail to up to 10 years in prison.
According to Arlington County Police spokesman Dustin Sternbeck, Mondello had a previous “run in” with another computer technician, but that encounter did not escalate to the degree of this latest incident.
PoPville posted a video of the riders in the District’s NoMa neighborhood around 5 p.m. yesterday. It’s illegal to ride ATVs and dirt bikes on public streets in D.C. Adding to the lawlessness, the riders travel in large groups, producing a deafening roar of engines, and sometimes intentionally run red lights and block traffic.
In the PoPville comments, readers said they saw similar groups of riders crossing the Key Bridge and riding past Pentagon Row, in Pentagon City, last night.
An ARLnow reader said he saw 5-10 ATV and motorcycle riders in the area of Key Blvd and N. Nash Street, near the Rosslyn Gold’s Gym.
“Most of them appeared to be ATVs; several were driving without any lights,” said David Mitchell. “I observed them driving in circles in the streets, in and out of nearby apartment parking lots, and on and off the sidewalks.”
“At one point, the motorcyclists moved in and out of cars driving south on N. Nash and interfered with traffic to the point that motorists had to stop and wait for their departure,” Mitchell continued. “Frankly, it felt like a scene from the ‘The Wild One’ with Marlon Brando. I called 911 to report this activity and was told they had already received multiple calls and that officers had been dispatched. The motorcyclist left the area not too long after I made my call to 911.”
“It it did not feel good to know that these motorcyclists might be allowed to escape unpunished,” Mitchell said.
Arlington County Police spokesman Dustin Sternbeck confirmed that the department received reports of ATVs and dirt bikes in the Rosslyn and Key Bridge areas last night. No traffic stops or arrests were made by Arlington officers.
In addition, ACPD received a report of a dirt bike rider who skidded into a light pole and utility box on the 2100 block of Washington Blvd, near Route 50. A Fort Myer firefighter who witnessed the crash told police that an ATV rider picked up the injured dirt bike rider and together they fled the scene.
The investigation into the crash is ongoing, Sternbeck said.
Screen shot via PoPville
K-9 Toby, a retired Arlington County Police dog, has unexpectedly passed away, the department announced on Twitter today.
Toby served Arlington from 2008-2013.
This is, unfortunately, at least the third Arlington K-9 to die early in recent years. In 2013, K-9 Dutch become suddenly ill and passed away while on the force. A year before that, K-9 Lobo passed away shortly after retiring.
EOW: ACPD regrettably reports unexpected passing of retired K9 Toby. He served from 2008-13 & will be sadly missed. pic.twitter.com/Rh1KiyVGhN
— ArlingtonCountyPD (@ArlingtonVaPD) December 24, 2015
The incident happened just before 3 a.m. Police say 26-year-old William Donovan of Vienna, Va. was sitting by himself at a table in the tiny pizzeria, snorting cocaine. A uniformed Arlington County police officer who was standing nearby witnessed the alleged drug use and went to arrest Donovan.
At that point Donovan, who police say was highly intoxicated, defiantly said something to the effect of “I’m going home tonight,” and took a “fighting stance,” according to ACPD spokesman Dustin Sternbeck.
Donovan began kicking and punching the officer, prompting a witness to jump in and help restrain him while additional officers sped to the scene, Sternbeck said.
Donovan was charged with possession of cocaine, two counts of assault on a police officer, resisting arrest and obstruction of justice, according to Sternbeck, and is being held without bond.
He “eventually apologized while being transported to jail,” Sternbeck noted.
Shortest Day of the Year — Today is the shortest day of the year. The sun will be up just 9 hours and 26 minutes today, so enjoy the daylight while it lasts. Tonight is the winter solstice. [Capital Weather Gang]
Two Big Crystal City Projects on Hold — Two projects to replace aging office buildings in Crystal City are on hold due to high office vacancy in the region. Vornado was planning to replace 1851 S. Bell Street with what would have been the tallest building in Crystal City and the largest private office building in Arlington. The company was also planning to replace 223 23rd Street S. with an office and a residential tower. Those have both reportedly been shelved due to market conditions. [Washington Business Journal]
Police Play Cornhole With Bar Crawlers — Nearly 2,000 people flocked to Clarendon on Saturday for the inaugural Candy Cane Crawl, a holiday-themed bar crawl. Arlington County Police used the occasion to educate bar-goers about the dangers of drunk driving, by having people try to play cornhole while wearing “drunk goggles.” [WUSA 9]
Mary Slye Obituary — Mary Patricia Slye, who managed Robert Slye Electronics on Washington Blvd in Virginia Square, died last month of a heart attack at the age of 65. Slye was an Arlington resident and began working at the audio visual installation business in the mid-1980s. [Washington Post]
Vehicle Topples Light Pole on Washington Blvd — A vehicle struck a light pole near the intersection of Washington Blvd and N. Pershing Drive on Saturday, sending it toppling across the street. Luckily, no one was hurt. Eastbound traffic on Washington Blvd was blocked for about 15 minutes. [Twitter]
GMU Grad Hopes to Run for Arlington School Board — A newly-minted George Mason University grad has a specific and somewhat uncommon career goal for someone her age: Marlayna Bush says she wants to run for the Arlington School Board in 2018. She just received her BA in conflict analysis and resolution. [George Mason University]
(Updated at 11:55 p.m.) Two suspects are in custody after leading Arlington County Police on a vehicle pursuit through the District of Columbia, following a shooting near the Pentagon City mall.
The alleged road rage incident happened around 3:10 p.m., at the 15th Street South exit of the mall’s parking lot. NBC 4 reported that a driver was having trouble using a credit card to exit from one of the gates. The driver was trying to get the car behind to let them reverse out, when someone in that car fired a gunshot in the air.
Witnesses called 911 and reported the shooting, describing the suspect vehicle as white in color with D.C. tags
A car matching the description given to police was spotted by an officer on I-395. That led to a pursuit across the 14th Street Bridge into D.C., near the National Mall, and back on I-395 before ending at 3rd and F Streets NW, near the Third Street Tunnel, where the suspects bailed out and took off running.
Arlington police, aided by D.C. police, were able to chase and apprehend both suspects, according to ACPD spokesman Lt. Kip Malcolm.
Reginald Carroll, a 21-year-old D.C. resident, has been charged with willfully discharging a firearm in public and felony eluding. Calvin Pelzer, also 21 years old and from D.C., has been charged with discharging a firearm and obstruction of justice.
The suspects threw a gun out of the window during the vehicle pursuit, Malcolm said. It was recovered along I-395 near the GW Parkway.
Arlington County Police normally don’t engage in car chases, but department policy specifies that such pursuits are authorized for violent crimes involving firearms, “for the safety of the community,” according to Malcolm.
No one was reported injured in the shooting. As of early Friday evening, investigators were still looking for bullet casings and other evidence near the scene. They’re also trying to find other witnesses as well as the other driver involved, who fled after the shooting.
“The investigation is ongoing,” Malcolm said.
The 7-Eleven store on 23rd Street in Crystal City was robbed by a knife-wielding man Sunday night, according to this week’s Arlington County crime report.
The suspect made off with cash after robbing an employee at knifepoint. From ACPD:
ARMED ROBBERY, 151214001, 400 block of S. 23rd Street. At approximately 10:44 pm on December 13, a 7-11 employee was robbed of cash at knifepoint by an unknown subject. The suspect fled on foot and is described as a Hispanic male between 6’0-3″ tall and 225 lbs. He was wearing a black jacket, dark colored jeans, black winter hat and tan boots at the time of the incident.
The rest of this week’s crime report, after the jump.