Arlington, VA

A teen is facing a number of charges after some early morning vehicular mayhem in Arlington on Saturday.

Arlington County police say the teen was prowling the Hall’s Hill neighborhood in a stolen Chevrolet Camaro, looking for unlocked cars. He was accompanied by at least three other suspects and two other vehicles.

“At approximately 5:07 a.m., police were dispatched to the report of a vehicle tampering in the 2000 block of N. Cameron Street,” police said in a press release Monday. “The reporting party advised they had observed four suspects associated with a Chevrolet Camaro trying door handles of parked vehicles in the area. A responding officer located the suspect vehicle, with two other vehicles following closely behind and attempted a traffic stop.”

The three vehicles fled at high speed, but were located nearby.

“Additional officers attempted to stop the vehicles on N. Culpeper Street where the driver of a sedan with Maryland temporary tags accelerated towards them, attempted to strike an officer who was on foot, and crashed into a police cruiser,” police say. “No officers were injured.”

The suspects then fled onto Lee Highway, where officers again spotted them and initiated a chase. The Camaro later crashed into a median near the Washington Blvd and Route 50 interchange, and the teen was taken into custody after “a brief foot pursuit.”

He is now facing charges of Conspiracy to Commit a Felony, Burglary, Eluding, and Motor Vehicle Theft.

Another of the suspect vehicles — a black Mercedes — was found abandoned on the 100 block of N. Edgewood Street, a few blocks from where the Camaro crashed. Officers, assisted by the U.S. Park Police helicopter, searched the area but did not find the driver.

The Camaro was stolen from Arlington’s Dominion Hills neighborhood, police said, while the Mercedes was stolen from Hall’s Hill after a home break-in.

“The suspects had entered a separate unlocked vehicle, located a garage door opener and made entry into their residence from the garage,” said ACPD. “Once inside, the suspects stole a purse containing keys to the Mercedes and fled the scene in the vehicle before being located by officers.”

The thefts and chases are the latest in a year-and-a-half long spate of vehicle break-ins and thefts, many involving suspects who search for unlocked cars and other crimes of opportunity.

The police press release noted that another recent crime — a car stolen from a home with an open garage door on Friday — may be related.

This incident is being investigated as related to a similar residential burglary reported on February 19. At approximately 9:59 a.m., police were dispatched to the 2300 block of N. Quebec Street for the report of a burglary just discovered. Upon arrival, it was determined that at approximately 5:00 a.m., the suspects gained entry to the residence from an open garage door. Once inside, the suspects stole wallets, cash and vehicle keys. The suspects then used the vehicle keys to flee the scene in the victim’s 2021 white Mercedes.

ARLnow hears that the home from which the white Mercedes was stolen is owned by former Washington Wizards center Marcin Gortat. Real estate listings suggest that the property in the Cherrydale neighborhood is being rented.

The Arlington County Police Department, meanwhile, is asking for the public’s help in identifying the car theft suspects.

The investigation into these incidents and the identities of the involved parties is ongoing. Anyone with information or video surveillance that may assist with the investigation is asked to contact Detective D. Johnson at 703-228-4193 or [email protected] or Detective S. Whalin at 703-228-4159 or [email protected] Information may also be reported anonymously through the Arlington County Crime Solvers hotline at 1-866-411-TIPS (8477).

The department also offered the following burglary prevention and safety tips.

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A 36-year-old man is behind bars after police say they caught him red-handed in the act of stealing packages.

The Springfield, Va. resident was in the Crystal City area, on the 300 block of 23rd Street S., when police say they spotted him “concealing alleged stolen packages” while returning to “a vehicle associated with a package theft reported to the officer on December 27.”

The man is now facing a burglary-related charge and four counts of petty larceny. Additional charges “are anticipated” and police are “working to identify and notify victims,” according to an Arlington County Police Department press release.

ACPD is asking Arlington residents to remain vigilant about so-called porch pirates, as a rise in e-commerce during the pandemic leads to more package thefts. The department is encouraging residents to take in packages as soon as possible after they arrive, or to use options like lockers or in-store pick up if they’re not going to be home during the delivery.

The full press release is below, after the jump.

The Arlington County Police Department’s Property Crimes Unit is announcing the arrest of a suspect in a package theft series. Haroon Cheema, 36, of Springfield, VA, was arrested and charged with Possession of Burglarious Tools and Petit Larceny (x4). Additional charges are anticipated. He is being held in the Arlington County Detention Facility on a secure bond.

At approximately 1:10 p.m. on January 3, a patrol officer observed an unoccupied vehicle with no license plates parked the 300 block of 23rd Street S. The vehicle matched the description of a vehicle associated with a package theft reported to the officer on December 27, 2020. A short time later, the officer observed the suspect return to the vehicle with a bag concealing alleged stolen packages. The suspect drove a short distance and was detained by officers as he exited the vehicle. During the execution of a subsequent search warrant on the vehicle, additional packages were located. Detectives are working to identify and notify victims.

Safety Tips and Crime Prevention Measures

Package thefts are often crimes of opportunity with suspects targeting items left unattended or out in plain view. While these crimes are often associated with the holiday season, they can happen at any time. The Arlington County Police Department encourages online shoppers to think ahead about delivery options and follow the below safety tips to help reduce the opportunity for package theft:

  • Schedule packages to arrive when you are home and track their progress during shipment
  • Bring packages inside as soon as possible after delivery
  • Have someone you trust accept the package if you will not be home during delivery
  • Require signature on delivery
  • Utilize other delivery options such as lockers or in-store pick up
  • Reschedule delivery or ask for a package hold when on vacation

Report Package Thefts to Police

If you have been the victim of a package theft in Arlington County, report to police using the online crime report.

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A thief or thieves stole the airbags from nearly two dozen cars in a single parking garage this week.

The theft took place at some point between Wednesday evening and Thursday morning on the 4400 block of 4th Road N., in the Buckingham neighborhood near Ballston.

“Upon arrival, it was determined that between 5:30 p.m. on November 18 and 8:00 a.m. on November 19, an unknown suspect(s) smashed the windows to approximately 21 vehicles inside a secured garage and stole the airbags,” the Arlington County Police Department said in a crime report today. “There is no suspect(s) description. The investigation is ongoing.”

Arlington has seen a rise in crime, particularly vehicle-related property crimes, over the past couple of years. Airbags are a popular theft target for criminals due to their resale value on the black market.

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Morning Notes

‘Open Schools’ Signs Also Being Stolen — “The debate over whether kids should be learning in or out of schools is getting ugly in Arlington. So much so, dozens of signs that said ‘Open Schools Now’ have gone missing. ‘Some of them have gotten stolen and neighbors have found them in trash cans,’ parent Russell Laird said Friday, standing near 100 new signs that had just been delivered. ‘I told people, keep count of how many were stolen, come back with double.'” [Fox 5]

County Getting More COVID-19 Aid — “The Arlington County Board today accepted more than $3 million dollars in additional federal aid to support low-to-moderate-income residents during the COVID-19 pandemic. The aid included more money for housing vouchers and funding for a range of relief programs to support families and small businesses.” [Arlington County]

Restaurant Week Starts Today — “Arlington Restaurant Week will run from October 19-26. During the week, diners can try set menu items from many local restaurants, at a discounted price. The idea is for diners to find a new to-go place for dining out.” [ARLnow]

W&OD Trail Detour Shifting — “The current W&OD Trail detour route just east of Lee Highway (Route 29) will be shifted for about two weeks beginning October 19 to allow additional construction activity. Crews will reconstruct sidewalks on Lee Highway, the Econolodge entrance on Fairfax Drive, and nearby curb ramps on Lee Highway. Trail users will be directed to a new sidewalk and trail adjacent to the new trail bridge during this detour.” [VDOT]

Gutshall Posthumously Honored By Chamber — “The Arlington Chamber of Commerce is pleased to announce that the late Erik Gutshall is our 2020 inductee into the Arlington Business Hall of Fame.” [Arlington Chamber of Commerce]

Local Church Gets Big Donation — “Today, Our Lady, Queen of Peace Church in Arlington received 40 pallets of toiletries and household products worth $250,000 from @FoodForThePoor. They plan to give away the items during their weekly food distribution and through the parish thrift store.” [Arlington Catholic Herald/Twitter]

AED Wins Prestigious Awards — “Arlington Economic Development took home numerous honors at this year’s International Economic Development Council (IEDC) 2020 Excellence Awards, which were announced earlier today at the organization’s annual conference. AED’s programs and partnerships were recognized for Economic Excellence in several categories.” [Arlington County]

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Along George Mason Drive near the hospital Thursday morning, bare metal frames were almost as ubiquitous as the undamaged political signs still standing in the median.

Reports of widespread political sign vandalism earlier this month have seemingly not deterred the vandal or vandals. Newly ripped, trampled or discarded signs can still be seen along Arlington’s main roads. Many, if not most, are those supporting the Democratic presidential ticket.

“We continue to have widespread and sustained destruction and vandalism of campaign signs we’ve lawfully erected,” Arlington County Democratic Committee spokeswoman Rebecca Theim told ARLnow yesterday afternoon. “Our program chair, Carol Burnett, estimates that fewer than 25 of the 780 Biden-Harris signs Arlington Democrats volunteers placed on Oct. 3 remain undamaged. Although we’ve replaced many, most of the original signs simply disappeared; those that remained have been shredded.”

“More than half of our Arlington Democrats Joint Campaign signs titled ‘Vote Democrats’ are also gone or vandalized, including 30 such signs just last night along Wilson Boulevard,” Theim added. “The majority of signs supporting the re-election of Sen. Warner also have been removed or vandalized… There’s been some vandalism of the other signs, but for the most part, signs about the proposed state constitutional referendums and School Boards races have remained untouched.”

Arlington Democrats took the rare step of putting out a press release about the sign destruction on Oct. 4. Isolated incidents of signs being vandalized happen every election cycle, but 2020 seems to be different, local Democrats say.

“I have done median signs for a dozen elections in Arlington, and have never seen vandalism this rampant,” said Burnett, who heads ACDC’s sign program. “Usually, a few signs go missing, but I’ve never seen this kind of destruction, where signs are shredded or torn in half. And I’ve not seen entire streets with signs in a dozen medians vandalized, like has happened this year.”

“There are also many more reports of residents having their ‘Dump Trump’ and Biden-Harris signs stolen from their yards,” she continued. “One resident who lives on 23rd Street in Aurora Hills has had 6 signs stolen. He now takes his signs inside at night.”

On Nextdoor this week, Arlington residents have also reported numerous missing or damaged signs supporting President Trump.

Arlington GOP Chair Andrew Loposser previously told ARLnow that sign vandalism is a common occurrence.

“Nearly every candidate’s signs — regardless of political party —  get vandalized at some point during the campaign, usually by bored high school kids,” he said earlier this month. “Let me be clear: Vandalism of any kind is unacceptable.”

Arlington County Police Department spokeswoman Ashley Savage tells ARLnow that as of Thursday, the department has received more than a dozen reports of political sign theft and damage in recent months.

“Since July, ACPD has taken 13 reports for damaged, destroyed or stolen political signs,” Savage said. “These incidents have been reported in areas throughout the County.”

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Two. D.C. men are facing a battery of charges after police say they were seen prowling local neighborhoods and trying to break into cars.

The arrests were made Monday morning after a resident reported a suspicious vehicle, accompanied by two people on foot looking into parked cars, along N. George Mason Drive in the Yorktown neighborhood. The vehicle was later spotted in the Clarendon area, and the pair arrested after a foot chase.

More from an Arlington County Police Department press release:

At approximately 5:30 a.m. on October 12, police were dispatched to the area of 27th Street N. and N. George Mason Drive for the report of a suspicious vehicle. The reporting party observed a vehicle driving through the neighborhood with two subjects walking alongside it and appearing to look into parked vehicles. A lookout for the vehicle was broadcast and officers located it in the area of Wilson Boulevard and 10th Street North. The driver of the vehicle failed to stop for law enforcement. The vehicle eventually became inoperable at 10th Street N. and N. Irving Street and the four occupants fled the scene on foot. Following a brief foot pursuit, two of the vehicle’s occupants were located and taken into police custody. Two subjects remain outstanding and there are no descriptions of the subjects. The investigation determined that both the vehicle and the temporary license plate on the vehicle were reported stolen.

A 21-year-old man was charged with Unauthorized Use of a Motor Vehicle, Eluding and Receiving Stolen Property, while a 20-year-old man was was charged with Unauthorized Use of a Motor Vehicle, Eluding, Forgery and False ID to Law Enforcement. Both were held on a secured bond, police said.

The arrests come as Arlington is in the midst of a wave of vehicle-related crimes. In February we reported that hundreds of cars had been broken into since July 2019. In July of this year, at least 31 cars were reported stolen in Arlington, two-thirds of which were either left running while unattended, or unlocked with keys inside. Despite public service announcements from ACPD, as well as other arrests, those types of crimes continued throughout the summer.

The latest incident, police say, is an instance of a common vehicle property crime in Arlington: a group of thieves, traveling together in a stolen vehicle, testing door handles and then stealing items from unlocked cars or stealing the cars themselves, if keys are found inside.

From ACPD:

Vehicle-related property crimes such as motor vehicle theft, larcenies from auto and vehicle tampering are often crimes of opportunity. Thieves are looking for easy, low effort opportunities to steal from hardworking members of the public and target vehicles with unsecured doors and windows.

The method of theft in this incident is consistent with other vehicle-related property crimes reported in Arlington. Several suspects, often riding in a stolen vehicle, drive through Arlington neighborhoods looking for crimes of opportunity. As the driver proceeds slowly down the street, several accomplices exit the vehicle and check door handles of vehicles parked in the area. The suspects enter vehicles that are found to be unlocked with the goal of stealing valuables and those vehicles with keys left inside. These incidents typically occur during overnight or early morning hours.

The police department offered the following tips for keeping one’s vehicle secure and reporting suspicious activity to authorities.

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Arlington County Police are investigating an armed robbery in the Virginia Square area last night.

The incident happened last night at 9:30 p.m., at or near the 7-Eleven store at 3510 Wilson Blvd. Police say two suspects, including one armed with a knife, slashed a bag the victim was holding and stole items from inside, including cash.

Police swarmed the area afterward but the suspects fled on foot and remain at large.

“There are a huge number of police vehicles and officers on Jackson Street, Lincoln Street, the 7-Eleven parking lot, Monroe and Nelson on Wilson,” one local resident told ARLnow last night around 10 p.m.

More from an ACPD crime report:

ARMED ROBBERY, 2020-08260196, 800 block of N. Lincoln Street. At approximately 9:30 p.m. on August 26, police were dispatched to the report of an armed robbery. Upon arrival, it was determined that a verbal dispute ensued between the suspects and victim inside of a business, during which the suspects threatened the victim. Upon exiting the business, the suspects approached the victim in the parking lot. Suspect One brandished a knife, cut the bag the victim was holding, and stole items from the bag and an undisclosed amount of cash. The suspects then fled on foot prior to police arrival. Suspect One is described as a light skinned male, approximately 5’8″, 160 lbs., with facial hair on his chin, wearing a baseball hat, grey t-shirt, grey sweat pants and light grey running shoes. Suspect Two is described as a tan skinned male, approximately 5’8″, 240 lbs., wearing glasses, a blue surgical mask, pink button down shirt, khaki shorts and white shoes. The investigation is ongoing.

Separately, police are currently investigating a theft in Rosslyn that occurred this morning. Initial reports suggest that a suspect stole items from a store along Wilson Blvd, then ran from police aftering being spotted on N. Lynn Street.

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Four juvenile suspects were taken into police custody after a wild series of events in Crystal City Monday afternoon.

Police say a car left idling and unattended was stolen on the 2600 block of Crystal Drive, by a suspect who hopped out of a car occupied by four other suspects. Later, police located both vehicles near Route 1 and S. Eads Street and conducted a traffic stop.

One suspect was arrested at the scene, while three others were arrested following foot pursuits through parts of Crystal City and Pentagon City. A fifth suspect remains at large.

The crime is the latest in a string of carjackings, car break-ins, and thefts of vehicles left idling or unlocked — often delivery vehicles.

More from an Arlington County Police Departmentment crime report:

RECOVERED STOLEN VEHICLE, 2020-08100143, 2600 block of Crystal Drive. At approximately 4:24 p.m. on August 10, police were dispatched to the report of a stolen vehicle just occurred. Upon arrival, it was determined that the victim left his Nissan Maxima idling unattended, during which time Suspect One allegedly exited a Chevrolet Cruze, occupied by four other suspects, and stole the victim’s Maxima. Officers canvassing the area located the Cruze and Maxima in the area of Richmond Highway and S. Eads Street and effected a traffic stop. Suspect One exited the Maxima, which then struck another vehicle, and fled the scene on foot. The other four suspects exited the Cruze and attempted to flee on foot. Suspect Two was stopped as they exited the Cruze. Suspect One and two other suspects were apprehended in the area following brief foot pursuits. The fifth suspect remains outstanding. During the course of the investigation, it was determined that the Cruze was reported stolen out of Washington D.C. earlier in the day. Petitions for Grand Larceny Auto, Hit and Run, and Conspiracy to Commit a Felony were sought for juvenile Suspect One. Petitions for Grand Larceny Auto and Conspiracy to Commit a Felony were obtained for the other three juvenile suspects. The investigation is ongoing.

File photo

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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 police have a public service announcement that’s right up there with “don’t hit the car in front of you” — don’t leave your keys in your car.

Just over two thirds of the 31 vehicle reported stolen in Arlington this month have either been left running unattended (9) or unlocked with keys inside (12), according to ACPD.

Thieves, the police department says, have learned that Arlington is fertile ground for easy crimes of opportunity. The victims are often those who can least afford the loss: food delivery drivers.

“Reported incidents indicate multiple suspects will travel together as they search the area for cars left running unattended,” ACPD said in a press release today. “When they observe an unattended vehicle, the suspects pull their vehicle alongside it, one individual exits the suspect car, immediately enters and flees the scene in the victim’s vehicle. The act of stealing the vehicle takes only seconds. The victims are often food delivery drivers who return from their delivery to find their vehicle has been stolen.”

Criminals also prowl the county during early morning hours, looking for cars that have been left unlocked with keys inside, police say. Even when keys are not found, sometimes other items are taken, as happened in the East Falls Church neighborhood this morning.

More from ACPD:

LARCENY FROM AUTO/VEHICLE TAMPERING (series), 2020-07280029/07280031, 1800 block of N. Van Buren Street/1800 block of N. Tuckahoe Street. At approximately 4:00 a.m. on July 28, police were dispatched to the report of a tampering with auto. Upon arrival, officers observed a suspect lying in the roadway. As they made contact with the suspect, he fled on foot into Falls Church. A perimeter was established and a search of the area returned with negative results. The investigation determined the suspect allegedly entered approximately seven unlocked vehicles, rummaged through their contents and stole items of value. He is described as a Hispanic male in his teens, approximately 5’7″, 145 lbs., with a facial tattoo. The investigation is ongoing.

Auto crimes are rising in Arlington and are not just confined to non-violent thefts. Five carjackings have been reported since June 22.

The full ACPD press release is below.

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