Arlington, VA

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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Morning Notes

Amazon Not Giving Up on HQ2 Helipad — “The list of nongovernmental aircraft the Transportation Security Administration permits to fly inside the [Flight Restricted Zone], besides commercial fights to and from Reagan National, is basically nonexistent… In a statement, Amazon suggested it hasn’t given up. ‘We recognize there are several layers of approval for such a feature, and will continue to work with Arlington County and other relevant stakeholders as we determine its feasibility for our Arlington HQ,” the statement read.” [Washington Business Journal]

Pentagon Helipad to Get New Tower — “The Department of Defense has designs on building a permanent air traffic control tower to help guide aircraft landing at the Pentagon and is seeking a contractor to carry them out.” [Washington Business Journal]

County Concerned About Peak Trail Usage — “We’ve noticed the trails are pretty crowded between 3pm-6pm. To help stop the spread of COVID-19, we suggest finding a less busy time to walk, bike, or run on the trails or to find an alternate route.” [Twitter]

Mexicali Blues Closed, For Now — Clarendon mainstay Mexicali Blues has shut down its carryout business and is closing temporarily. [Twitter]

Candidate Blasts County’s Coronavirus Response — “Audrey Clement, who has been running campaigns for elected office for more than a decade, said last week that the County Board failed to use its powers to force restaurants to close in the earliest days of the crisis.” [InsideNova]

Va. Senators Seek Local News Funding — “U.S. Sens. Mark R. Warner and Tim Kaine (both D-VA) joined their Senate colleagues in a letter calling for funding to support local journalism and media to be included in any future COVID-19 relief package.” [Press Release]

Video: YHS Orchestra Plays Remotely — “Vivaldi: Concerto for Strings in D Major, RV 121 (1st movement) by the members of the Yorktown High School Chamber Orchestra during the COVID-19 pandemic.” [YouTube]

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(Updated at 2:55 p.m.) A large tree has fallen and is completely blocking the intersection of Yorktown Blvd and N. George Mason Drive.

Police and firefighters are on the scene. The tree reportedly also brought down power lines at the intersection, which is just down the street from Yorktown High School.

Drivers should expect detours in the area while crews work to remove the tree from the roadway. Eastbound traffic on Yorktown Blvd is being diverted onto 28th Street N., near the high school, according to scanner traffic.

Pedestrian traffic from the high school may also be re-routed.

Separately, further down Yorktown Blvd from the fallen tree, Arlington County firefighters were on the scene of a possible gas leak at Nottingham Elementary as of 1:30 p.m. The school was evacuated while firefighters investigated a reported gas odor.

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A new indoor swimming school is coming soon to Lee Highway in Arlington.

SwimBox offers one-on-one lessons to swimmers of all ages, from beginners to athletes. All lessons take place in the shallow, warm-water “Endless Pool,” with instant video feedback to customize swimming technique.

“We are anxious to work with the masters swimmers, competitive age group swimmers, triathletes, and adults learning to swim that live in/close to that area,” said owner Lissa Latella. “We find that the adult community is often overlooked in terms of learning to swim, so it will be great to provide that service to this new area as well.”

The space is slated to open in December, according to Latella, underneath Caribbean Grill at 5183 Lee Highway.

“The move to Arlington has been something we’ve been wanting to do for the past few years, but finding a good space that allows for our pool was a bit hard in an area where most buildings have underground parking garages,” said Latella. “Can’t put a pool above something like that!”

SwimBox applied for a construction permit in August, per county records, in which it was labeled as an “above ground modular spa.”

Photo courtesy SwimBox

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Morning Notes

New Trail Bridge Work Progressing — “Bridge girder installation is occurring this week during daytime hours for the new Washington & Old Dominion Trail Bridge over Route 29 (Lee Highway) in Arlington. This work is taking place west of Lee Highway, and will not impact roadway or trail users. Work will continue the week of Oct. 28, and will require nighttime hours and an additional trail detour.” [Press Release]

Chick-fil-A to Blame for Blocked Bike Lane? — Delivery drivers picking up orders from Chick-fil-A in Crystal City may be at least partially to blame for frequent bike lane blockages along Crystal Drive. [Twitter]

Netherlands Carillon to Get ‘Grand’ Upgrade — “The National Park Service (NPS) and the Embassy of the Kingdom of the Netherlands today celebrated the start of a project to restore the Netherlands Carillon and add three bells to elevate its status to ‘grand carillon.'” [Press Release]

E-CARE Sets New Record — This past Saturday’s E-CARE recycling event recorded record turnout, as Arlington residents showed up en masse to drop of tons of old bikes, scrap metal and household hazardous materials. [Twitter]

Yorktown Golfer Wins State Championship — “He was the last player to tee off in the round, then at the end of the 18-hole competition, Benjamin Newfield was standing No. 1 on the leaderboard. The Yorktown High School freshman carded a 4-under-par 35-33-68 on Oct. 14 to win the Virginia High School League’s Class 6 individual state golf championship by one stroke.” [InsideNova]

Ceremony for New Elementary School — “This past weekend, the APS and [Fleet Elementary] communities celebrated the opening of the new school with ribbon cutting and fall festival.” [Twitter]

Woodbridge Development Claims HQ2 Proximity — “The radius of Northern Virginia buyers citing Amazon HQ2 in their plans continues to expand, with a developer in Woodbridge now citing the tech giant as a catalyst for a large-scale shopping center redevelopment.” [Bisnow]

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An art studio for kids along Lee Highway is looking to double in size as part of its new expansion plans.

Art House 7, located at 5537 Lee Highway in Yorktown, is looking for the County Board’s permission to earn the necessary zoning changes to make the move. The studio has offered classes and summer camps on everything from painting to pottery-making since it opened in the space in 2015.

Art House 7 is currently based in a condo complex near the Lee Harrison shopping center, with classes offered on both floors of the small home. But its owners recently purchased an adjacent condo as well, located at 5535 Lee Highway, and wants to expand its operations there as well, according to a report prepared by county staff.

That would allow the studio to double the number of students allowed in the space at any given time, from 12 kids up to 24.

Staff wrote that they haven’t found any reason to deny that request, and noted that both the Yorktown and Leeway Overlee civic associations support the permit changes.

The matter is slated to go before the Board Saturday (March 16), as part of its consent agenda. That is generally reserved for noncontroversial items passed without debate.

So long as the Board signs off on this change, it would be up for review in one year’s time.

Photo via Arlington County

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A driver ran off the road in a Yorktown neighborhood last night (Thursday), flipped the car over and landed directly in front of someone’s home.

The crash happened around 9:30 p.m. along the 2600 block of N. Harrison Street, according to county police spokeswoman Ashley Savage.

She says the driver “left the roadway, struck a telephone pole, rolled over and struck a parked vehicle.” It ultimately settled in the front yard of a small home on N. Harrison Street.

One neighbor also told ARLnow that the crash brought down some nearby power lines.

Savage says the driver was “transported to an area hospital with reportedly minor non-life threatening injuries.”

Police are still investigating the incident, she added.

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Police are now investigating after an Uber driver ran off the road near the Lee Harrison Shopping Center, crashing into some street signs and knocking down a light pole.

The crash happened this morning on Lee Highway in Yorktown, near its intersection on N. Harrison Street.

It appears as if the driver of a hatchback, complete with an Uber sticker, lost control of the vehicle and drove down the sidewalk near the shopping center. The driver managed to knock down several street signs and a light pole, which fell into the street, before colliding with another utility pole.

Arlington Police and firefighters are currently on the scene evaluating the driver for injuries and administering a field sobriety test.

They’ve closed the westbound lane of Lee Highway as the investigation continues.

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Some Yorktown residents say their neighborhood has become an icy mess at times over the last few weeks — and they believe a newly installed speed bump is to blame.

County officials still aren’t sure of the exact problem on the road, but they aren’t willing to blame the speed bump quite yet. Regardless of the exact source of the issue, people living along 26th Street N. as it runs between N. George Mason Drive and N. Glebe Road, say they’re desperate for a solution.

“We have had to have the county send salt trucks twice since [last] Friday to specifically address the road downhill from the speed bump,” David Miller, who lives along the 4900 block of 26th Street N., told ARLnow via email. “We expect this will be worse as we have more days below 32 degrees. We have not seen any accidents yet as a result of the ice/water, but have had our own cars slide while coming out of our driveway, so we fully expect it is only a matter of time.”

Miller says the road first started getting soaked with water about six months ago, the day after the county removed a speed bump from the area. Accordingly, neighbors can’t help but draw a connection between the two events.

However, he says the issue wasn’t serious until about six weeks ago, when the county installed a new speed bump and temperatures started to dip, leading residents to inform county officials about the problem. Everyone living in the area is convinced this is due to a leak of some kind, Miller said, but the county hasn’t come to a definitive conclusion just yet.

Katie O’Brien, a spokeswoman for the county’s Department of Environmental Services, says workers are indeed “actively investigating” what’s going on in the neighborhood. She says county staff “have been unable to identify a leak” thus far, making it possible that there are other factors at play in the area.

“Due to the record amount of rain we have received this year, there are a number of locations throughout the county that are supersaturated and the standing ground water may give off the appearance of a water main leak,” O’Brien wrote in an email. “We are also monitoring these locations as a precaution.”

Miller does give the county credit for its responsiveness to the issue, but remains frustrated that the problem is still unsolved all these weeks later. With temperatures continuing to plummet, he fears what will happen if the county still can’t find a fix in the coming months.

“Everyone on the street is concerned for the danger that the ice is creating,” he said.

Photo courtesy of David Miller

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Morning Notes

Big Tree Fall on Car — A large tree fell across 8th Street S. late last week, crushing a parked car and causing a widespread power outage. [Twitter]

Local NAACP Reflects on Progress — “The Arlington NAACP’s 71st-anniversary Freedom Fund Banquet was a chance to look back on progress, but also to press for vigilance so it doesn’t slip away… The banquet on Oct. 13 drew a large crowd to the Sheraton Pentagon City Hotel.” [InsideNova]

Rosslyn LED Art Unveiled — “Cliff Garten Studio is pleased to announce, ‘Gravity and Grace,’ a site-specific large-scale LED public artwork integrated into the architecture of JBG SMITH’s Central Place Plaza in the Rosslyn neighborhood of Arlington.” [LiveDesign]

Yorktown Tied for First — “With an important homecoming victory over the visiting Langley Saxons in Oct. 12 football action, the Yorktown Patriots (4-3, 2-0) upped their winning streak to three to remain tied for first place in the Liberty District.” [InsideNova]

ACPD Again Holding Take-Back Day — “On Saturday, October 27, 2018 from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m., the Arlington County Police Department, Arlington County Sheriff’s Office and the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) will give the public its 16th opportunity in seven years to prevent pill abuse and theft by ridding their homes of potentially dangerous expired, unused, and unwanted prescription drugs.” [Arlington County]

Flickr pool photo by Tom Mockler

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The Taco Bell on Lee Highway will be out of commission for the next few months, as its owners tear down the existing store and replace it with a new one.

The fast food restaurant, located at 4923 Lee Highway near Yorktown, shut down last week and construction tape now blocks off its drive-through lane. The eatery will remain closed for the next three to four months, general contractor Steve Taylor told ARLnow.

Taylor said the exact timeline for the project will depend on the weather in the coming weeks, but current plans call for the old restaurant to be demolished and completely replaced.

County records show its owner, the Ionedes Family Corporation, received the necessary permit approvals for much of the project in April.

The records also show that the current restaurant was built back in 1993.

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