Arlington, VA

The recent spate of business burglaries in Arlington is continuing.

Early Saturday morning a group of three thieves broke into businesses in the Dominion Hills and Westover neighborhoods, stealing several cash registers and leaving behind piles of broken glass. At least five businesses were damaged by the burglars.

More from an Arlington County Police Department crime report:

BURGLARY, 2021-04170015/04170016, 6000 block of Wilson Boulevard. At approximately 1:23 a.m. on April 17, police were dispatched to the report of multiple audible security alarms. Upon arrival, it was determined that multiple businesses had their front doors damaged, with two of the businesses being burglarized and two of the businesses showing signs of attempted forced entry. A cash register with an undisclosed amount of cash was stolen from one business, while no other items were reported stolen. Officers established a perimeter and the area was checked with negative results. The investigation revealed that the three suspects, who were wearing dark colored clothing and face masks, had fled the scene in a dark colored vehicle prior to the arrival of police. The investigation is ongoing.

BURGLARY, 2021-04170017, 5800 block of Washington Boulevard. At approximately 1:33 a.m. on April 17, police were dispatched to the report of a glass break alarm. Upon arrival, it was determined that employees were inside the closed business when they heard glass break, followed by footsteps and unknown individuals talking. The investigation determined that three unknown suspects forced entry into the business through a window, stole two cash registers containing and undisclosed amount of cash and fled the scene on foot. Responding officers established a perimeter and the area was checked with negative results. No injuries were reported. There are no suspect descriptions. The investigation is ongoing.

The western portion of Wilson Blvd in Dominion Hills and Bluemont has been the scene of at least a half dozen prior burglaries this year, including three on the same block as Saturday’s incident.

ACPD spokeswoman Ashley Savage said detectives are investigating these and other prior business break-ins, in Arlington and around the region, as potentially related given the method of theft.

“The burglaries… are being investigated as part of the commercial burglary series,” Savage tells ARLnow. “Detectives continue to follow up on investigative leads in the case and are working collaboratively with our regional law enforcement partners to identify and apprehend those responsible.”

“Investigators believe that some of these cases are linked but not all are committed by the same suspects,” she added.

In February, ACPD announced that is was “investigating an increase in overnight commercial burglaries targeting cash-based businesses.” At the time, there had been 21 reported business burglary incidents in Arlington since the start of the year. Since then that number has risen to 31, including 22 completed burglaries and 9 attempted burglaries, according to police.

The police department previously offered the following crime prevention tips for businesses.

  • “Don’t store money overnight in your business. If you must keep cash or other valuables overnight, store them in a safe anchored to the floor”
  • “Leave cash drawers open, indicating there’s nothing to steal”
  • “Post signs in your store window that cash and valuables are removed from the premises overnight”
  • “Ensure your property has adequate lighting, especially at points of entry”
  • “Consider installing security cameras with alarms to capture suspects on video and notify police immediately if unauthorized individuals gain entry to your business”
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Grab a basket and brush up on your produce-scoping skills, it’s farmers market season once again.

A number of Arlington farmers markets have or will be opening for the season in the coming days, including:

  • Crystal City on Tuesdays, from 3 p.m.-7 p.m. (starting tomorrow, April 6)
  • Ballston on Thursdays, from 3 p.m.-7 p.m. (opened on April 1)

Several other farmers markets will be opening in the weeks to follow, including:

  • Lubber Run on Saturdays starting April 17, from 8 a.m.-12 p.m.
  • Fairlington on Sundays, starting May 2, from 9 a.m.-1 p.m.
  • Rosslyn on Wednesdays, starting May 5, from 3 p.m.-7 p.m.

Three Arlington farmer markets are open year-around, though with shifting hours depending on the season including:

  • Westover’s Sunday winter hours of 9 a.m.-1 p.m. will remain until May 2, a market representative confirmed, when it shifts 8 a.m.-12 p.m.
  • Courthouse’s Saturday farmers market shifts their hours to 8 a.m.-12:30 p.m. on April 17.
  • The Columbia Pike market on Sundays is now in the parking lot of the Fillmore Shopping Center and keeps the hours of 8:30-11:30 a.m. year around.

The Courthouse farmers market is the oldest in Arlington, selling produce since 1979. All of the markets will have modified operations, including limited capacity, as a result of the pandemic.

In total, Arlington has eight farmer markets.

The Marymount University farmers market closed last year and is not currently operational, a county official confirms. It opened in 2016, billing itself as the only Arlington market north of Lee Highway.

Despite being encouraged to offer pre-ordering, markets are open for in-person shopping. This is a change from early last year, at the start of the pandemic, when markets were briefly shut down and then allowed to open for pre-ordered sales only.

File photo

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A last-minute possible name for the new school under construction at the Reed Elementary School site did not go over well with Arlington School Board members.

Members of the Reed School naming committee presented their top two choices, Westover Village Elementary School followed by Cardinal Elementary School, during the regular school board meeting last night (Thursday).

Westover Village is a new addition borne from feedback the committee received in a survey, through NextDoor and neighborhood email lists. Cardinal was one of five names the committee had initially planned to choose from — the others being Compass, Exploration, Kaleidoscope and Passport.

“The Westover name recognition came from the hope that this school would be a community-based school and a neighborhood school,” McKinley Elementary Assistant Principal Gina Miller said.

The committee decided to push past the possible association with Westover Plantation, which was owned by William Byrd II, who founded the City of Richmond and was noted for the often cruel treatment of enslaved people on the plantation.

“The committee felt naming it Westover Village alleviated the concern of Westover due to concerns of connection to the plantation,” APS spokesman Frank Bellavia said.

Arlington School Board members, however, disagreed. They condemned using the name Westover for the new school at the Reed site — even with “Village” tacked on, the name still bears the association with Westover Plantation, they said.

“I do understand that the community is so excited to have a community school once again,” Board Chair Monique O’Grady said. “With that fresh start, however, I think it’s imperative that we look at our values, our push to ensure that we have equity, that we embrace all students, that they feel safe and valued and that we do not continue to raise up the name of institutions that built their success on the backs of people of color.”

Arlington has “far too many examples” of holding onto historical references that need to be left in the past, she said.

“The best way to learn from this history is to not continue to allow it to live in the names of our institutions, especially the names of our schools, where students are meant to learn,” she said.

Board members Cristina Diaz-Torres and David Priddy and Board Vice-Chair Barbara Kanninen raised similar concerns and voiced their support for the name Cardinal. They are slated to vote on the name on Thursday, April 8.

Diaz-Torres recalled the Wakefield High School students who alleged racist behavior on the football field less than three weeks ago.

“I understand the rationale conceptually of adding the word Village to separate the connotation with the Westover plantation but that doesn’t erase the fact that Westover would be at the front of the name,” she said.

Diaz-Torres added that she is “disheartened that members of civic associations decided to encourage rejecting the preference of 1,100 community members” over the 73 who suggested Westover in the comment section of the survey.

The new school at 1644 N. McKinley Road will open this fall and will accommodate 725 students. Most of the students will move from McKinley Elementary School, with others moving from Tuckahoe Elementary School.

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A man allegedly led police on a foot chase in the Westover area after his neighbor found a bullet hole in his apartment.

The bullet hole was reported to police Friday morning, in an apartment building on the 5700 block of Washington Blvd, according to an Arlington County Police Department crime report.

Investigating officers determined that an argument was overheard in the apartment next to that of the victim one week prior. While trying to get in touch with the residents of the adjacent apartment a man exited the building and tried to flee, according to ACPD, but he was detained and a gun recovered.

More from the crime report:

MISSILE INTO OCCUPIED DWELLING (late), 2021-02260074, 5700 block of Washington Boulevard. At approximately 11:15 a.m. on February 26, police were dispatched to the report of suspicious circumstances. Upon arrival, it was determined that on February 20, the victim located a bullet hole inside his residence and later found a bullet fragment. Further investigation revealed an argument was overheard in the adjoining apartment the evening prior to the bullet hole being discovered. As officers were attempting to make telephone contact with those residents, the male subject emerged from the building and fled the scene. Following a foot pursuit, he was detained by officers. A firearm was later recovered. The investigation is ongoing.

Separately, police are looking for a man who lit blankets atop a sleeping victim on fire, according to Monday’s crime report.

The victim was sleeping under an overpass in Arlington when the alleged incident occurred, on Friday, Feb. 19. It was only reported to police this past Thursday morning, when medics were called to treat the victim’s burns. He was taken to a local burn center by ambulance, according to scanner traffic.

The crime report suggests that the victim knows the suspect.

“At approximately 11:45 a.m. on February 25, police were dispatched to an EMS assist” on the 2900 block of S. Glebe Road, the crime report says. “Upon arrival, it was determined that on February 19, the victim was asleep underneath the overpass when he was approached by a known suspect who wrapped his legs in blankets and set them on fire.”

“The victim and a witness were able to extinguish the fire and the suspect left the scene,” the crime report continues. “Upon receiving the request for service on February 25, the victim was transported to an area hospital for treatment of non-life threatening injuries.”

No arrests have been reported so far, and police say the investigation into the incident “is ongoing.”

File photo

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Two Arlington County library branches are reopening for “express service” next month.

The Shirlington and Westover branches will open their doors on Tuesday, March 9 for the first time in almost exactly one year.

Patrons will be limited to 15 minutes of in-person browsing, though there’s a possibility of expanding to 30 minutes depending on “patron demand.”

While only self-service checkout will be available, several library employees will be on-site at each branch to help with way-finding and account management. Holds pick-up will also be available.

Henrik Sundqvist, spokesperson for the Arlington Public Library, says this is a step in the library’s phased approach to reopening.

“With this express library service model, we are excited to reopen and reconnect with our communities,” he said.

In November, the Arlington County Board approved spending $170,000 to bring back temporary employees and fund the reopening of these two branches for express service. However, the original plan was to reopen in January and to allow up to 30 minutes of browsing.

Anne Gable, Arlington Public Library’s deputy director, says that in November the details were still being worked out. Staff thinks shortening it to 15 minute blocks meets patron demand better.

The delay from January to March, says Gable, was due to a spike in cases after the holidays and continued community spread of the virus.

For the express service, library staff on-location will be a mix of temporary and permanent employees. Due to the county’s hiring freeze enacted last March, the library has not been able to fill vacant positions. However, the allotted $170,000 will fund bringing back a number of temporary employees that were let go in the spring.

No Arlington County library has been fully open since March 2020 due to the pandemic. Only Central Library has remained open for limited pick-up of holds placed online, a “more labor-intensive model” than normal due to health and safety protocols, including quarantining returned books for 72 hours.

Sundqvist says that library staff have heard from the public about how much they want the libraries to fully re-open, but are remaining cautious.

“It was a hard, difficult decision for us to close [back in March 2020],” says Sundqvist. “It’s important when we do re-open that it’s sustainable and we don’t have to close down again.”

The express library service at two branches is a way to re-open safely while remaining pared down, he said. There’s no timeline yet for the reopening of the other branches in the system, though six locations are currently available for book-drop off only.

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Morning Notes

Sexual Battery Suspect Arrested — “At approximately 1:12 p.m. on November 20, police were dispatched to the 4200 block of Wilson Boulevard for the report of a suspicious person matching the description of the suspect in the November 17 incident. Responding officers located the individual and took him into custody without incident.” [ACPD]

Local Attorney Accused of Sex Offenses — “A Northern Virginia attorney was arrested Thursday in Miami and accused of coercing underage girls into sexual activity. Matthew Erausquin, a founding partner of the firm Consumer Litigation Associates’ Northern Virginia affiliate, is charged in Alexandria federal court with sex trafficking involving six minors.” [Washington Post]

Hospice Worker Accused of Sexual Assault — A 57-year-old Arlington man has been charged “with sexually assaulting a hospice patient in October. Detectives were first notified on Nov. 11, that an 80-year-old Reston man disclosed to a family member that he awoke to [the man] performing a sex act on him in his home.” [Fairfax County Police]

Man Arrested After Incident in Park — “Arlington County Police say that a local man tried to kick a dog and then pepper sprayed its owner Thursday afternoon at Chestnut Hills Park.” [Patch]

SUV Fire in Westover — Washington Blvd was blocked around lunchtime Sunday due to a vehicle fire near Westover Village. The SUV was fully engulfed in flames when firefighters arrived. [Twitter]

MyEyeDr Opening Today in Ballston — The new MyEyeDr location in Ballston is set to open today, according to a press release. The chain bills itself as “one-stop shop to get an eye exam, buy new eyewear or even shop for sunglasses.”

Metro Making Budget Cuts — “Metro board members unanimously approved service cuts and a buyout plan Thursday aimed at avoiding as many layoffs as possible as the transit agency faces a $176 million budget shortfall due to the coronavirus pandemic.” [Washington Post]

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Morning Notes

Crystal City Parking Lot Staying Put — “Crystal City has been a scalding hot market for new development ever since Amazon.com Inc. moved in — but one well-positioned lot will continue to sit empty for the foreseeable future. Gould Property Co., which owns a small parking lot at 2661 S. Clark St., filed a request with Arlington County last month asking for permission to maintain the property as surface parking through early 2026.” [Washington Business Journal]

Westover Apartment Building Named — “Kathleen Sibert, who led the Arlington Street People’s Assistance Network (A-SPAN) from 2008 until earlier this year, will remain a permanent part of the organization through a facility named in her honor… Located in Westover, Sibert House is designed to provide permanent-supportive housing and a foundation to help individuals achieve better health, overcome substance abuse and mental illness, obtain job security, and attain their goals.” [InsideNova]

Schools Also Facing Budget Gap — “Superintendent Durán said that APS is facing an estimated budget gap at this time of between $24 million and $31 million. The APS budget gap continues to fluctuate and is based on continued unknowns including more possible revenue loss, more possible savings and more costs as APS works to return students to in-person learning while continuing to provide distance learning. The school district is examining its current practices and reviewing the budget.” [Arlington Public Schools]

Arlington Water Facts — “In a year, Arlington residents use some 8 billion gallons of water. That’s about a trillion 8-ounce glasses of the stuff. Clean, safe and always at the ready.” [Twitter]

Real Estate Costs on the Rise — “Not only are home prices on the rise across the Washington area; the average cost on a per-square-foot basis continues to grow, too… In Virginia, Arlington led the pack, with its average per-square-foot cost of $455 up 4.4 percent from $436.” [InsideNova]

Real Estate Firm Opening Second Office — “McEnearney Associates is excited to announce a new office location in the heart of Clarendon in Arlington, Virginia located at 3033 Wilson Boulevard… This will be McEnearney Associate’s second office location in Arlington.” [Press Release]

Airport Concession Sales Way Down — “Roughly 33 concessionaires were open at Reagan and 44 at Dulles, or just over 40% of all shops in the two airports… the shops that are open are still struggling with very low foot traffic and a customer base that is spending less than normal. Sales per passenger were down 20% at Reagan National and 22% at Dulles in August compared to the same month of 2019.” [Washington Business Journal]

Arlington Early Voting on Irish TV — “Irish TV RTÉ was in Courthouse filming the early voting for the election.” [@Irelands4Courts/Twitter]

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Those who mourned the closing of Finders Keepers in Westover (5906 Washington Blvd) should be happy to know a new consignment shop is coming to the same space, but with some significant new changes.

True to the consignment store spirit, Amber Scivolette is taking a second-hand retail space and breathing new life into it — Finders Keepers is becoming Blossom and Buds Consignment.

The store will serve both kids and adults. Offerings will include clothing, shoes and accessories, as well as toys, books, games, and other items.

“We’re going to have kids’ consignment as well as women’s consignment,” Scivolette said. “It’s basically two storefronts, with one whole side for kids and a kids’ play area.”

Inside, Scivolette said she has renovated the space.

“We pulled everything apart,” Scivolette said. “We just completed that, now we’re setting things into place.”

The exterior, which currently is mostly covered in plastic, is also getting spruced up. Scivolette said a new sign and a power wash are coming soon.

The new store is scheduled to open in September, possibly with a soft opening around Thursday, Sept. 10, or Friday, Sept. 11.

Though the exact details haven’t been nailed down yet, Scivolette said Blossom and Buds will implement COVID-19 safety measures. Early on, that will mean a big emphasis on selling items via Instagram, Facebook and other social media outlets. Scivolette said the store will offer contactless pickup if someone wants to buy something they spotted online.

While many locals opening new stores have had challenges, Scivolette says she’s found a silver lining.

“Opening now… it’s not ideal, but I feel like I’m not rushed,” Scivolette. “I can take the time to do what I want to do. The timing works out okay for us.”

Photo courtesy Amber Scivolette

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Morning Notes

Protest Outside Westover Post Office — About 15 protesters held a “Save the U.S. Postal Service” rally outside the Post Office at 5877 Washington Blvd in Westover yesterday. The two-hour lunchtime demonstration was organized as part of the American Postal Worker Union National Day of Action. [@KalinaNewman/Twitter]

Historic Review Board Likes Shirlington Plan — “The Arlington County government’s historic-preservation advisory body seems generally satisfied that retention of historic features will be seen as an important component of the redevelopment of the Village at Shirlington. In particular, the low-slung storefronts along Campbell Avenue are expected to be protected from the wrecking ball, even as taller and more dense development likely will be allowed immediately behind them.” [InsideNova]

New BBQ Restaurant Opens Patio — “Smokecraft Modern Barbecue is excited to debut its much-anticipated patio, now open daily for outdoor dining and drinking. Arlington residents and visitors can now enjoy Smokecraft’s award-winning barbecue outside on a socially distant patio, consisting of 38 seats.” [Press Release]

TTT in Clarendon to Host Virtual DJUpdated at 9:30 a.m. — “Beginning Friday, September 4… TTT (Tacos, Tortas & Tequila) known for its casual Mexican-influenced fare is adding an exciting bit of fun on Friday and Saturday nights and Sunday afternoons with virtual DJs. Guests dining on the first floor and on the third floor TTT Rooftop, which seats 82 and offers wonderful views on the city, will enjoy watching and listening to live streaming DJ performances via large screen projection.” [Press Release]

Family Pushing for Arlington House Change — “Descendants of Charles Syphax have been courting lawmakers for the past few months to make the change, said Syphax family historian Steve Hammond, who lives in Sterling, Va. The family’s effort is motivated as much by a desire to accurately honor the full history of the property and the enslaved people who lived there as it is by any antipathy toward Lee.” [Washington Post]

Nearby: Back to School in Falls Church — Students have started the fall semester, virtually, in Falls Church. A TV news segment shows teachers conducting their virtual classes from their actual, physical classrooms. [NBC 4]

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Arlington County firefighters are battling a small fire in a garden apartment building in the Westover area.

The fire was reported in the basement of the Fisher House apartment building at 5705 Washington Blvd. Initial reports suggest the fire started in the laundry room and was extinguished by firefighters, but not before producing heavy smoke and prompting a second alarm response.

Firefighters are now working to remove smoke and to ensure that the fire is completely extinguished. Washington Blvd is currently blocked by the emergency response.

So far there is no report of injuries.

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Morning Notes

APS Working to Keep School Construction on Track — “Top Arlington school-system staff are recommending doing whatever it takes – including shuffling money away from other projects – to ensure construction of a new elementary school in Westover does not fall behind schedule.” [InsideNova]

Yard Waste Collection Suspended Again — After a one-week reprieve, Arlington has again suspended its residential yard waste collection service. There’s no word on when it will resume, though the county has opened two yard waste drop-off centers. [Arlington County]

Law Enforcement Memorial Ceremony to Be Livestreamed — On Wednesday at 8 a.m. “the Arlington County Police Department and the Arlington County Sheriff’s Office will host a virtual Observance of Peace Officers Memorial Day to honor and pay tribute to the memory of Arlington’s seven fallen law enforcement officers.” [Arlington County]

New Superintendent’s Introductory Remarks — “Among other things, Dr. Durán pledges to close ‘access, opportunity and achievement gaps;’ to ‘commit collectively to sustain and improve the level of academic excellence for students in APs
through an equity and inclusion lens;’ and to help students and families ‘through these troubling times times.'” [Blue Virginia]

Paper’s Prediction: Dems Win Special Election — “The field is set at three: Democrat Takis Karantonis, Republican Bob Cambridge and independent Susan Cunningham. The arrival of Cambridge is probably music to the ears of Democrats, as he will help split the anti-Democratic vote with the better-known and probably more viable Cunningham, allowing Karantonis to win and avoiding a repeat of a 2014 special election when John Vihstadt went mano-a-mano against Democrats and wrestled them into submission.” [Sun Gazette]

Amazon Running Arlington-Herndon Shuttle — “It’s too early to tell if Amazon.com Inc. (NASDAQ: AMZN) will launch a Seattle-style shuttle service for its HQ2 employees, but the company has connected its Herndon and Arlington offices via shuttle.” [Washington Business Journal]

Arlington Participating in Virtual Tech Conference — “For the last several years, Northern Virginia has taken dozens of promising tech start-ups to the Collision conference, granting them access to programming, investors, mentors and networking opportunities. This year, the Collision organizers have moved everything online, so instead of traveling to the conference in Toronto this year, eighteen lucky start-ups from Northern Virginia will get an all-access pass to the Collision from Home tech conference.” [Press Release]

Nearby: Alleged W&OD Trail Creeper Arrested — “City of Falls Church Police arrested Lamar Dontae McCarthy, 23 years old of Stafford, VA, and charged him with assault. On Saturday, May 9, police reported to Grove Ave. and the W&OD Trail for a report of a suspect who had pursued a woman on the trail. The woman stated she saw a man in a red hooded sweatshirt suddenly stop his vehicle and sprint after her.” [City of Falls Church]

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