(Updated at 3:10 p.m.) Arlington County Police are investigating a break-in and theft at Japanese Auto Service, a service station located between Clarendon and Virginia Square.
The service center, at 3413 Wilson Blvd, has been in business for 19 years, according to owner Ed Lahrime. It was broken into by an unknown suspect early Sunday morning.
From an ACPD crime report:
“At approximately 4:51 a.m. on March 27, an unknown male subject forced entry into a business and stole several items of value and an undisclosed amount of cash. The suspect is described as a white male, wearing a dark hooded sweatshirt, blue jeans, and dark shoes.”
A customer provided ARLnow.com with some additional details about what happened.
“The thief took their cash register and a significant amount of money in cash and checks,” the customer told us. “The store owner was able to provide the police with video of the suspect and they are currently reviewing the footage. Poor guy looked heart broken that his business had been violated like that.”
Lahrime said that his motion detection security system didn’t go off during the break-in, for some reason, and has since been replaced by the security company. He also had to replace a broken window and his cash register. All told, the theft is costing him more than $1,500, along with some sleep and peace of mind, he said.
“I couldn’t sleep that night,” he said. “I had to put my phone [with a connection to the surveillance system] next to me to make sure he didn’t come back to rob us again.”
Police told Lahrime of a number of other recent burglaries and burglary attempts in various parts of the county, from Shirlington to Clarendon, he said. This was the first burglary at Japanese Auto Service since it opened nearly two decades ago.
“Arlington is not safe,” said Lahrime.
Tuesday afternoon Arlington County Police released multiple surveillance images of the suspect, describing him as “a white male in his mid-20’s to early 30’s, wearing dark clothing and a gray hoodie.”
“If anyone has information on the identity and/or whereabouts of this individual, please contact Detective Echenique of the Arlington County Police Department’s Burglary/Larceny Unit at 703.228.4241 or at [email protected],” police said in a press release. “To report information anonymously, contact the Arlington County Crime Solvers at 866.411.TIPS (8477).”
“This is an ongoing and active investigation,” said ACPD spokeswoman Ashley Savage.
The video shows the thief returning to the scene of the crime a half hour after the initial break-in, apparently to steal some change from the floor, Lahrime added.
Philip Pierce, a 35-year-old Arlington resident, was pulled over by police around 5 a.m. Sunday, on the 4000 block of Wilson Blvd in Ballston, after he was observed conducting an illegal tow by an officer, police said. Around the same time, the owner of the tow company informed police of suspicions that Pierce was stealing items from vehicles.
Police say they found “numerous stolen items” inside Pierce’s vehicle. It’s unclear whether any of the items came from cars that were being towed. Police located one of the the owners of the stolen items, whose car was broken into but not towed, said Arlington County Police spokeswoman Ashley Savage.
Police also performed a field sobriety test on Pierce and found marijuana in the vehicle, said Savage.
Pierce faces numerous charges, including three counts of grand larceny, one count of grand theft auto and one count of driving while intoxicated, along with possession of burglary tools, possession of a controlled substance and a civil violation for failing to inform police before performing a tow.
John O’Neill, owner of Ballston-based Advanced Towing, confirmed to ARLnow.com Monday afternoon that Pierce had been working for his company.
“I was alerted to suspicious activity and immediately contacted the police who were able to investigate and make an arrest within just a few minutes of my call,” O’Neill said. “For accuracy it is important to point out it is not accurate to say the suspect was performing an ‘illegal tow’ as noted in your article but was apprehended in the process of apparently stealing a car by using a tow truck. The vehicle being stolen and tampered with by the suspect… was not a vehicle subject to being towed pursuant to enforcement of parking restrictions hence it was not a legal or illegal tow.”
“The vehicle was apparently a randomly chosen by the suspect for a vehicle theft,” O’Neill added. Pierce no longer works for Advanced, he said.
Pierce has had other recent run-ins with the law in Arlington. In 2008 he was charged with possession of marijuana and an unlawful vehicle window tint. Last year he was also charged with DWI, although in January he was found guilty on an amended misdemeanor charge of reckless driving. In February he was charged with a traffic infraction for improper towing.
Police are not releasing the name of the tow company Pierce worked for, citing a policy against identifying the employers of those who are are arrested.
Authorities Still Investigating Oil Sheen on Potomac — In an effort to find the source of an oily sheen on the Potomac River near the Roaches Run Waterfowl Sanctuary, the Coast Guard, state authorities and the Arlington County Dept. of Environmental Services will be conducting a “dye test.” Non-toxic dye may be seen in the river today. At least 23 birds were were sent to a wildlife rescue organization for cleaning as a result of contact with the oil. [U.S. Coast Guard, Facebook, WJLA]
Two Displaced By Fire Near Clarendon — A structure fire Friday night on the 1200 block of N. Kirkwood Road, near Clarendon, has left two residents displaced. No one was injured in the blaze. The residents are being assisted by the Red Cross. [Twitter, Twitter]
Nauck History Project Seeks Contributions — As part of Black History Month, Arlington County is encouraging residents of the Nauck neighborhood to donate images and stories to the Nauck/Green Valley Heritage Project. The project has an online archive dedicated to preserving the community’s rich history. [Arlington County]
Arlington Makes AARP ‘Healthy’ List — Arlington County is among the top “medium population cities” for those ages 50+ to stay active and healthy, according to new rankings. [AARP]
Clement: Support Governor’s I-66 Plan — Frequent local candidate for elected office Audrey Clement is encouraging Arlingtonians to support the McAuliffe administration’s plan for tolling I-66 inside the Beltway. That plan, which calls for widening I-66 only as a last resort, is preferable to the call from outside the Beltway lawmakers to widen I-66 as soon as possible, Clement says. [Campaign for a Greener Arlington]
Arlington Woman Has Purse With $10K Cash Stolen — Police are looking for a suspect seen stealing a purse with $10,000 cash inside from a Fairfax County Dunkin’ Donuts. The purse was accidentally left behind by an Arlington mother who had saved for years to pay her 18-year-old daughter’s tuition at Penn State. [NBC Washington]
Flickr pool photo by Dennis Dimick
Police were dispatched to the store around 2:30 p.m. Monday.
A man was in the jewelry store for about 10 minutes looking at rings, said ACPD spokeswoman Ashley Savage. At one point, he allegedly grabbed one of the rings — a diamond engagement ring — and took off running.
So far, police have declined to identify the jewelry store or the release the value of the ring.
The suspect is described as a 6-foot-tall black male in his 40s, with a medium build. He was wearing a tan thermal hat and a zip-up sweatshirt at the time of the crime, we’re told.
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
Guns Stolen from Nova Firearms in McLean — A burglary has occurred at Nova Firearms, the gun store that wanted to open a location in Cherrydale before residents pressured the store and the landlord to scuttle those plans. Two handguns were stolen from Nova Firearms’ McLean store just after midnight this past Friday. Police are seeking tips in the case. [Fairfax County Police Department]
Taxicab Fares Raised in Arlington — A taxi ride in Arlington will now cost an extra 25 cents per ride and an extra six cents per mile. The County Board on Saturday unanimously approved new taxi rates that also include a $25 cleaning fee for those who “dirty or foul a cab enough that the cab must be removed from service.” [Arlington County, WJLA]
Locals Make ’50 On Fire’ List — A number of Arlington-based companies and individuals have been named to this year’s DC Inno “50 on Fire” list. Local honorees include Vornado/Charles E. Smith honcho Mitchell Schear, Crystal City incubator Eastern Foundry, newly-IPOed Evolent Health in Ballston, Ballston-based tech firm Distil Networks and Rosslyn-based advertising agency LMO Advertising. [DC Inno]
Nauck Town Square Design Meeting — A community discussion will be held at Drew Model School to help officials arrive at a final plan and design for its Nauck Town Square project. The meeting will be held from 6:30-8:30 p.m. tonight (Monday). [Arlington County]
Review of Oz in Clarendon — Oz restaurant in Clarendon, which opened in September, continues to receive so-so reviews from the critics. The latest review suggests that Oz suffers from the inherent blandness of Australian cuisine, which it attempts to recreate faithfully. Oz may benefit, however, from its co-owner’s casting on the Real Housewives of Potomac. [Washington Post]
Arlington Fire Captain Retires After 35 Years — Arlington County Fire Department Captain Robert Patterson has retired after 35 years on the job. [WJLA]
Huge Apartment Building Proposed for Ballston — A Bethesda-based developer is proposing a huge new apartment building on the western side of the intersection of Wilson Blvd and N. Glebe Road in Ballston. The building would feature 483 apartments, 760 underground parking spaces and 68,000 square feet of retail including a grocery store. The nearby Bluemont Civic Association has expressed concern about the proposal, including the potential impact of traffic from the grocery store. [Washington Business Journal]
Mall Worker Accused of Stealing Dozens of Shoes — A maintenance worker at the Pentagon City mall has been arrested and accused of stealing at least 77 pairs of shoes and boots and 9 purses. Police say surveillance footage shows Michael Meza-Guevara unsuccessfully trying to disable surveillance cameras. [NBC Washington]
Arlington Tops Regional Teacher Pay List — Arlington Public Schools offer the highest average teacher pay in suburban D.C. The average teacher salary in Arlington was $78,002 a year, compared to $76,029 for Montgomery County, which ranked third. [WTOP]
Editorial Supports I-66 Toll Plan, Widening — A new Washington Post editorial supports Virginia Gov. Terry McAuliffe’s plan for adding tolls to I-66. The editorial also supports widening the highway: “The right policy response to the I-66 mess, in addition to promoting mass transit, is to widen the road. Unfortunately, that’s been blocked by Arlington County, whose hostility from the outset is why the road was designed to narrow to four lanes inside the Beltway (from six outside).” [Washington Post]
Freezing Temperatures This Morning — Temperatures reached the freezing mark, dropping down to 32 degrees for the first time this season. The average first freeze in Arlington occurs on Nov. 18. [Twitter]
Flickr pool photo by Brian Allen
(Updated at 10:05 a.m.) A video on Reddit shows a man allegedly stealing a bike from a porch of home on Key Blvd in Lyon Village.
The video was originally uploaded last week but was posted on a Reddit thread yesterday, with the comment that the thief had not been caught as of that morning.
The video, captured by a home security camera, shows a man with long hair and wearing a backpack, short sleeve graphic t-shirt and pants and sneakers. The camera catches him glancing at a window in the house and then sneaking up the porch. He then walks off the porch with a bicycle.
“Took this video from the listserv. I have seen numerous bikes left on porches/children’s bikes left on front lawns overnight around the neighborhood. Hopefully this video proves that no neighborhood is invincible to theft and that everyone should lock up (if for some reason you decide to leave your bike outside),” the poster said.
Asked about the video, Arlington County Police Department spokesman Dustin Sternbeck said: “We did receive an online report, however, this was the first our detectives had seen the video.”
An American flag that was flying outside of American Legion Post 139 in Virginia Square was apparently stolen earlier this morning.
Sharon Walker, the club manager at the post at 3445 Washington Blvd, said she noticed the flag was gone when she went to check on a mural currently being painted on the side of the building. The POW flag, which flies below the American flag, was lying on the ground and the rope that held the American flag was torn she said.
She first thought that someone had saw it on the ground and picked it up, but that didn’t quite add up, she said.
“If someone had picked it up, they’d also pick up the POW flag,” Walker said.
She asked neighbors if they saw a person take the flag, but so far no one has seen anything, she said. This is the first time in her 31 years at Post 139 that someone has stolen the flag.
A mural of an American flag is currently being painted on the side of the building, and artist Scott LoBaido said there is something ironic about the situation — that the flag was stolen while he was painting the huge mural.
“It just broke my heart,” he said. “It just broke my spirit.”
LoBaido is currently on a mission to paint an American flag on a VFW or American Legion post in every state. The Arlington American Legion is the last stop on his 50-state tour and this is the first time someone stole a flag while he was painting a mural.
“It’s the last one I’m doing. It’s Arlington, Virginia. It’s the Arlington National Cemetery,” he said. “That’s what it is all about.”
LoBaido filed a police report online, but he hasn’t heard back from the Arlington County Police Department. He said he hopes one of the buildings nearby has camera footage of the person stealing the flag. He checked in with the building across the street, but it did not have cameras.
“I consider it a hate crime,” he said. “It’s vandalism. It’s against the law.”
Desecrating the flag from an American Legion post doesn’t make a political statement, he said, it only hurts the service members who fight for it.
“You don’t desecrate the flag because you’re hurting the men and women who gave you the right to protest,” he said.
He urges anyone who saw something to call police. If the thief is caught, LoBaido says he knows the perfect punishment: the person should spend a week doing community service at a local VA Hospital to see the type of sacrifices military personnel make for the flag.
“The irony is here we are at Arlington. The Arlington National Cemetery is down the street,” he said.
A flag will “absolutely” fly tomorrow at the American Legion, Walker said, but she was not sure how much it would cost to replace it.
Police say the man entered the bar, at 2854 Wilson Blvd, just after 9:00 a.m. and stole six bottles of liquor. An alert employee, however, was able to foil the alleged theft and hold the suspect until police arrived on scene.
Wilber Johnson, 37, was arrested and charged with statutory burglary and grand larceny, according to a crime report.
The theft took place early on the morning of this past Saturday, May 23. Police say the kegs had been purchased on Friday for a wedding celebration on Saturday, and were being stored in the front yard of a house on the 600 block of N. Kenmore Street.
The homeowner’s daughter was the one getting married. Upon finding the kegs missing, the homeowner inquired with the future son-in-law and father-in-law, but found out that neither man had moved the kegs, according to Arlington County Police spokesman Dustin Sternbeck.
Neighbors reported that they had heard a car pull up to the house around 3:00 a.m.
The kegs contained beer from Alexandria’s Port City brewery and had a total value of about $170, Sternbeck said.
File photo via Facebook
Wounded Marine’s Golf Clubs Stolen — Retired Marine Lt. Col. Justin Constantine had a couple of his beloved, custom-made golf clubs stolen from Arlington’s Army Navy Country Club after accidentally leaving them at the driving range. Constantine was shot in the face by a sniper in Iraq in 2006. So far, one of the clubs has been returned while two remain missing. [Marine Corps Times]
Video: iPads in Use at APS — Arlington Public Schools has posted a new “#digitalAPS” video that shows iPads in use in a middle school science class. [Arlington Public Schools]
APS Community Engagement Juggling Act — Arlington Public Schools is planning a community engagement blitz as it seeks to keep up with rapidly rising school enrollment by building new schools. This comes in the wake of the County Board putting the brakes on a plan, unpopular with some residents, to build new elementary school next to Thomas Jefferson Middle School. APS is trying to juggle getting community consensus with the need to build new capacity quickly. [InsideNova]
Dremo’s Owner Dreams Up ‘BeerDisneyLand’ — The owner of the late, lamented Dr. Dremo’s in Rosslyn is proposing to build a two-acre “BeerDisneyLand” on D.C.’s Anacostia River waterfront near Navy Yard. [Hill Now]
Flickr pool by Kevin Wolf
Police: Pair Stole Car, Shrimp, Underpants — (Updated at 2:00 p.m.) A man and a woman allegedly under the influence of crack cocaine and alcohol were arrested in Rosslyn Tuesday afternoon. Police say the pair had stolen a car, men’s underwear and a “large quantity of shrimp.” [MyFoxDC]
Playgroup Controversy in Fairlington — Members of a cooperative playgroup that uses the Fairlington Community Center say that Arlington County is attempting a “takeover of the group.” The parents say the county is trying to buy the playgroup’s toys, take over registration and raise the playgroup fee from $20 to $190. [Patch]
How One Teacher Is Using iPads — There’s some question about just how well Arlington Public Schools has trained its teachers on the use of technology in the classroom — particularly the individual iPads and MacBooks that are being assigned at certain grade levels. One teacher at Carlin Springs Elementary School, however, is taking advantage of the iPads in a big way, using them for various interactive lessons. That, officials say, is indicative of how such technology will increasingly be used in schools. [InsideNova]
ACFD Metro Training — Arlington firefighters are participating in department-wide Metro safety training this month. [Twitter]
Police say the woman had just left her N. George Mason Drive apartment Thursday afternoon when a masked man forced her back into the apartment, bound her hands and stole her money and cell phone. After the man fled the scene, the woman managed to escape, hail a cab and go to a friend’s house, from which she called police.
From the crime report:
ROBBERY BY FORCE, 150129025, 100 block of N. George Mason Drive. At 2:17 pm on January 29, as a female victim was exiting her apartment she was allegedly confronted by a masked subject. The subject directed back into the apartment, bound her hands together and robbed her of cash and cell phone. Once the suspect fled, the victim ran outside and sought assistance from a cab driver. The suspect is described as a Hispanic male, approximately 5’5″ – 5’7″ tall and 190 lbs. He was wearing a black jacket and mask.
Also last week, someone smashed the windows of at least 17 cars in a Rosslyn parking garage, stealing “numerous items” from inside.
LARCENY FROM AUTO (series), 150201014, 1900 block of N. Lynn Street. Between 11 pm on January 31 and 8:30 am on February 1, an unknown subject(s) entered a parking garage and broke into and/or damaged at least seventeen vehicles by smashing a window. Numerous items of value were stolen. There is no suspect(s) description.
The rest of this week’s crime report, after the jump.
Police say 42-year-old Daniel Groseclose of Edgewater, Md. was employed by Kone, a company that does elevator and escalator repair work for Metro, when the thefts were discovered. He’s accused of stealing copper that was located on a construction site near the Rosslyn Metro station. The copper was owned by the electrical contractor M.C. Dean.
Metro Transit Police announced Groseclose’s arrest Friday afternoon.
“It is alleged that on at least two occasions last fall, Groseclose stole sections of copper wire and tubing from the site,” Transit Police said in a press release. “Kone was cooperative with the investigation, and has advised Metro that they have since dismissed Groseclose as an employee.”
“Groselose was arrested by Anne Arundel County Police on MTPD’s arrest warrant in Virginia,” the release continued. “He is expected to face two counts of grand larceny once extradited to Arlington County.”