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First SUV tire deflations by environmental activists, now newspaper thefts by omnivorous mammals.

The northern Arlington neighborhood of Rock Spring was the scene of the vulpine larceny over the weekend. As seen in video surveillance footage, a furtive fox dashes down the driveway, with a stolen Sunday edition of the Washington Post firmly secured in his or her snout.

The homeowner, Lynn Pollock, tells ARLnow that the pilfered paper was later found nearby.

“The fox took our paper to a neighbor’s yard behind our house on the other side of a stream and left it in their yard,” she said, noting that such wildlife thievery is new to her but apparently not uncommon in the area.

“We had a [fox] family with kits who grew up under our front porch for five years until we renovated last year. We never saw this activity then,” she said. “However, from responses to my [Nextdoor] post it is clear that newspapers, shoes, baseball mitts as well as dog toys are taken by foxes in the area quite often.”

On the social networking site, neighbors weighed in on the incident.

“The only piece of fox news I have enjoyed is this post,” quipped one local resident.

“Swiper, no swiping!” wrote another, referencing the sneaky antagonist on Dora the Explorer.

Jokes aside, another resident tried to provide a possible explanation for the behavior.

“In all seriousness, that newspaper has only one purpose for that fox and its kit(s),” the resident wrote, before word that the paper was found and recovered. “She will take it to the den and shred it, and it will make amazing, warm bedding material with great absorption, much like dried leaves. She’s done it before, and she knows what works. She was probably taught to do it by her mother. There’s a reason for the expression, ‘sly as a fox!'”

Video courtesy Lynn Pollock

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For years the intersection of Old Dominion Drive and Little Falls Road has been the scene of numerous crashes.

Now, after a push for traffic signals and minor efforts to make it safer, the intersection in the Rock Spring neighborhood has undergone its biggest change yet.

Instead of the rush hour restrictions that were put in place last year — making it right-turn-only for Little Falls Road traffic during certain hours — a recently-constructed row of bollards now ensures that those driving on Little Falls can only turn right at all times.

The bollards also prevent left turns from Old Dominion Drive.

“On June 10, the Virginia Department of Transportation installed a small center island of along the centerline of Old Dominion Drive to make Little Falls Road right-in/right-out at Old Dominion Drive,” Arlington County Dept. of Environmental Services spokeswoman Katie O’Brien tells ARLnow. “Additional markings and signage have been installed to help guide right-turning drivers. We anticipate making small changes, such as to the center median material, in the coming months.”

“These short-term changes were made because a crash trend has been identified at this location, including a high number of angle collisions involving drivers either turning left or continuing through the intersection from Little Falls Road,” O’Brien continued.

There were 13 crashes at the intersection in 2018, 14 crashes in 2019, 12 crashes in 2020 and 4 crashes so far in 2021, according to Arlington County Police Department spokeswoman Ashley Savage.

O’Brien also wrote in an email that the county and VDOT will be studying the possibility of lowering the speed limit on Old Dominion Drive or installing a traffic signal at the problematic intersection.

To help Arlington County and the Virginia Department of Transportation determine a long term solution, The County will also collect additional speed and volume data in this area. This data will help VDOT and County staff evaluate:

  • If a traffic signal is warranted. For the traffic signal, the County will work with VDOT to determine if the intersection meets the State Signal Justification requirement.
  • If a speed limit reduction is warranted. For the speed evaluation, the County will work with VDOT to determine whether a posted speed limit reduction is warranted.

Old Dominion Drive was formerly a streetcar line. It was converted into a road in the 1930s.

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

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

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

More from an Arlington County Police Department crime report:

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

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

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

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

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

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Move over Jazz, there’s a new heir to the cute crown in Arlington.

On Easter Sunday at about 5 p.m., an adorable baby red fox — a kit — was caught on camera in the backyard of a residence in the Rock Spring neighborhood, near Jamestown Elementary School.

Sally Granade was at Jamestown Park with her daughter when she got a call from her husband.

“He called and said ‘Oh, this baby fox has been staggering in the yard, I got a bowl of water and put it out and now it’s following me around,” Granade tells ARLnow.

Worried about both the health of the fox and the risk of rabies, she immediately told him not to touch it and they called the Animal Welfare League of Arlington.

Animal control officers arrived in less than 15 minutes, says Granade, and told the family the baby fox was neither sick or injured, simply very young and a bit lost.

It’s thought the kit had wandered from the den, which Granade now believes was under her shed, when mom was out of the house.

“It’s likely that the mom was either out hunting, or she was relocating her kits from one den to another, and the kit happened to make enough noise for the homeowners to notice him,” writes Chelsea Jones, AWLA’s spokesperson.

AWLA believes the kit was only a few weeks old, meaning it was born in the litter season of late March to early April. They were unable to confirm the sex of the baby, though.

Animal control officers requested a four-sided box to gently place the fox in there, so that it couldn’t wander more and mom could find it when she arrived back.

All Granade had was a wicker basket, hence a cute video of the baby fox squawking in a basket.

The officers departed with a request to keep an eye out for the mother.

Sure enough, only about an hour or two later, the family spotted her.

“We saw what was probably the mother sulking around the background… and, by morning, the baby was gone,” says Granade.

Jones says that Granade and her family did exactly what they should have done, which was to not touch the wild animal and call the professionals immediately.

“It’s very important that the public NEVER touch a wild animal unless they absolutely have to because there are zoonotic diseases that can pass from animal to human,” writes Jones. “If you have to touch the animal (it’s in a very dangerous spot, it’s severely injured, etc.), it’s very important to wear thick gloves or use a towel.”

Foxes are certainly not uncommon in Arlington, but in the past year AWLA has received more calls about them and other wildlife. This has more do with humans than the animals.

“We have had more wildlife calls overall in the past year because so many more people are home during the day and seeing more wildlife that they would normally miss because they are at work,” writes Jones.

This is the time of the year that kits begin venturing out of the dens, so it’s normal to spot them in mid-April, Jones notes.

In general, foxes do not pose a threat to humans, however, if they have rabies, they can be dangerous to pets. While they’re fun to watch, do it a safe distance to keep foxes, pets, and humans all safe, Jones says.

For Granade, it was a memorable Easter Sunday evening for her and her family, helping to reunite a baby fox with its mom.

“I was really impressed with the good job that the Animal Welfare League did,” she says. “They even came back to get the basket.”

Photo courtesy Animal Welfare League of Arlington/Facebook

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As if the pandemic wasn’t bad enough, there’s now an apparent rabies outbreak in Arlington County.

Two days after the county warned of a possible rabies exposure in the East Falls Church neighborhood, animal control has captured two additional raccoons “showing neurological signs consistent with rabies.”

The raccoons were both captured in residential north Arlington neighborhoods: one on the 4300 block of 37th Road N., in the Old Glebe neighborhood near Glebe Road Park and the Gulf Branch Nature Center, and another on the 5100 block of 37th Road N., in the Rock Spring neighborhood near Williamsburg Middle School.

“On February 4, 2021, Arlington County Animal Control responded to two separate incidents for raccoons,” the county said in a press release. “Both of the raccoons in these incidents were captured and removed by animal control; both raccoons were showing neurological signs consistent with rabies. One of these raccoons may have had contact with two pets.”

“This outbreak is no longer contained to a specific neighborhood,” the press release warned, also citing the East Falls Church incident from Jan. 30, in which a rabid raccoon came into contact with a pet.

“We are urging residents in North Arlington to be vigilant,” said Kurt Larrick, a county spokesman. “We ask that residents ensure their pets are up to date on their rabies vaccines, keep their dogs on a leash, keep cats inside, remain vigilant and alert, and do not approach or interact with any wild animals.”

Rabies, as described in the press release, “is a disease that people and animals can catch from the bite or scratch of infected animals. It is fatal if medical care is not given promptly.”

“If you, your child, or your pet may have come into contact with any wild animals including bats or raccoons, please call Arlington County Animal Control at 703-931-9241 immediately,” the press release says. “If calling after hours, please stay on the line to speak with the answering service who will alert an Officer. If you see a raccoon that appears sick, lethargic, disoriented, or aggressive, do NOT approach the animal and please call Animal Control immediately.”

Flickr pool photo by John Sonderman

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(Updated at 5:30 p.m.) Residents have been evacuated from homes in the Rock Spring neighborhood due to a “major outside gas leak.”

Williamsburg Blvd is currently closed between George Mason Drive and N. Harrison Street, near Williamsburg Middle School.

Initial reports suggest that workers digging up part of Williamsburg Blvd struck a large, 12-inch gas line. A crew from Washington Gas is on scene working to stop the leak.

“Residents closest to the leak will be evacuated,” the Arlington County Fire Department said. “Only evacuate if required to do so by firefighters.”

Map via Google Maps

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“We’ve seen too many accidents here. Think [before] you cross!”

So reads signs recently placed on Little Falls Road, at the crash-prone intersection with Old Dominion Drive, below signs restricting traffic to right turns only during rush hour. A few yards from the signs, around lunchtime Friday, was yet another crash.

The two-vehicle, T-bone crash involving an SUV and a minivan resulted in at least one vehicle occupant, a young woman who was visibly shaken, being evaluated by medics. A young girl appeared to have been riding in a car seat in the minivan at the time but was uninjured.

“It’s always this intersection here,” a police officer directing traffic could be heard saying to a passerby.

Friday’s crash was the eleventh so far this year at Old Dominion and Little Falls, according to Arlington County Police Department data. By comparison, there were 14 crashes there during all of 2019 and 13 throughout 2018.

Locals have long known the intersection — with no stop for Old Dominion traffic and limited sightlines for Little Falls traffic — to be dangerous, so much so that three years ago a 13-year-old took it upon himself to start a petition for safety changes, ultimately leading to the rush hour restrictions. Though the restrictions have been in place for a year, the crashes have not slowed down.

A wreck in May sent an SUV careening over the sidewalk and into the front yard of a home in the corner. No injuries were reported. A subsequent ARLnow morning poll found that more than 70% of respondents think a four-way stop or a traffic signal should be installed at the intersection.

There was another two-vehicle crash at the intersection on Monday, though it’s not clear whether it actually occurred in the intersection.

No additional changes are currently planned for the intersection, though some may be forthcoming — eventually.

Arlington County officials tell ARLnow that VDOT has applied for grant funding for the intersection on the county’s behalf, a process that might take some time.

“This intersection continues to pose safety challenges, and has been investigated by our Transportation Engineering and Operations (TE&O) staff,” said Arlington County Board Chair Libby Garvey. “As the intersection is under VDOT control, we’ve applied to the VDOT STARS (Strategically Targeted Affordable Roadway Solutions) program for grant funding.”

Hui Wang, Arlington’s Transportation Engineering and Operations Bureau Chief, said the state grant would help fund a study that will then provide recommendations for safety changes.

“If approved, VDOT has a group conducting comprehensive review of all aspects with community engagement included,” Wang said.

Garvey said she has also asked about “interim solutions.”

“I’ve asked our staff for a briefing to better understand the situation and, if there are any further interim solutions to pursue, I’m hopeful we can advanced them,” she said.

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There was another crash at the intersection of Old Dominion Drive and Little Falls Road yesterday afternoon.

No one was seriously injured in the wreck, which temporarily closed the eastbound lanes of Old Dominion Drive in the Rock Spring neighborhood. But it’s just the latest in a long string of crashes.

The crash-prone intersection has been the subject of local discussion for years. It was the scene of 27 crashes over a two-year period between mid-2017 and mid-2019, according to Arlington County police.

Minor safety changes rolled out last year — restricting traffic on Little Falls Road to right turns only during the morning and evening rush hours — have not eliminated the danger. In May, a two-vehicle crash at the intersection sent one car careening into the front yard of a house on the corner.

In 2017, a Williamsburg Middle School student led an effort to convince the county to implement safety changes at the Old Dominion and Little Falls intersection. Ultimately, only the rush hour restrictions were deemed appropriate — county staff said that stop signs for traffic on Old Dominion, an arterial street, would result in too much queuing, while a traffic light was not justified because there was not enough traffic on Little Falls Road. (There are existing stop signs for traffic on Little Falls.)

Given the continued collisions, what, if anything, do you think should be done?

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For the second time, someone has vandalized a Black Lives Matter sign at Rock Spring Congregational church in North Arlington.

Sometime between last night and noon today, someone cut out the word “Black” in the sign at the corner of Rock Spring Road and Little Falls Road.

Someone did the same thing to a Black Lives Matter sign on the church lawn in 2015.

“I no idea who’s doing it,” Rev. Dr. Kathryn Dwyer told ARLnow Tuesday afternoon. Dwyer, the church’s senior pastor, said there are no video cameras that might have captured the incident. She has filed a police report, after initially learning about the vandalized sign from a neighbor.

Dwyer said the church is ordering two new signs as a replacement, and plans to place them higher, on the church building itself.  A community member, meanwhile, has offered to try to fix the existing sign.

“I think that the vandalism demonstrates that we clearly have an issue, even here in Arlington, Virginia,” Dwyer said. Cutting out the word Black is “sort of like saying ‘all lives matter,'” she said.

“When I explain this to my congregation, I’ve explained how if your child asks if they love them, responding ‘honey I love all children’ is not satisfying,” Dwyer said. “We’re at a point in time in our country where people of color are being so oppressed it’s the job of all of us to assure them that they’re loved and they matter.”

Tomorrow the church will be holding the first of a six-week virtual course over Zoom entitled “Challenging White Supremacy: Becoming Anti-Racist.” All 100 spots sold out within 4-5 days, Dwyer noted.

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Old Dominion Drive is closed in both directions because of a crash at a particularly dangerous intersection in the Rock Spring neighborhood.

The North Arlington arterial street is closed between Williamsburg Blvd and Rock Spring Road, following a crash that happened around 1:30 p.m. Police are on scene directing traffic.

A Mercedes SUV collided with a Honda SUV at Old Dominion and Little Falls Road, a crash-prone intersection that recently added rush hour turn restrictions in an attempt to cut down on wrecks. The force of the crash sent the Mercedes careening into the front yard of a home, knocking down a county light pole in the process.

No serious injuries were reported. There’s no word on how soon Old Dominion Drive might reopen.

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A rental box truck ran off the side of Old Dominion Drive this afternoon, damaging a bench, a sign and a fence.

The crash happened shortly after 4 p.m., just west of the intersection of Old Dominion Drive and Williamsburg Blvd, in the Rock Spring neighborhood.

Traffic camera images show a yellow Penske rental truck on the sidewalk and a Metro bus stop sign on the ground. A black metal bench was also reportedly smashed, along with a fence and a tree in the yard adjacent to the sidewalk.

It’s not clear how the crash happened, nor whether any other vehicles were involved. No injuries have been reported. Police are on scene.

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