Fairfax police address recent concerns about crimes in Reston

Fairfax County police are working to address recent crimes in the Reston District.

Reston District Station Captain Thea Pirnat and several officers discussed a number of questions and concerns during a virtual community forum on Tuesday.

The discussion revolved around concerns stemming from recent crimes including three homicides within the district and burglaries at the Hunters Woods Village Center last week. The officers also discussed the general police response to these crimes as well as investigative efforts for reports of shots fired.

Pirnat said the four burglarized businesses at the Hunters Woods Village Center last week were a series of “smash and grabs.” She said a stolen vehicle was used in the burglaries to try to steal cash. It is an ongoing investigation.

“That is not believed to be related to the homicides,” Pirnat said.

“We do actually have some really good investigative leads. They actually targeted Fairfax city first, and then later were involved in a pursuit down in Loudon.”

She added there is a trend in the region and other jurisdictions where a vehicle is stolen and used in thefts. Establishments with ATMs are targeted.

Lieutenant Marisa Kuhar, an assistant commander of FCPD’s Major Crimes Bureau, said police believe there is currently no connection between the three homicide victims.

She added police believe the first two homicide victims were targeted and that they are “leaning that way” for the third as well based on the number of rounds fired. Kuhar said they would explore the possibility of potential connections to gangs as a part of their investigation.

Pirnat shared data about calls for service about gunshots. The data show calls in the Reston District have increased over the last three years with 130 in 2018, 157 in 2019 and 185 in 2020. However, she clarified these calls relate to a caller’s belief they heard a gunshot and are not necessarily confirmed cases a firearm was fired.

She further outlined the department’s efforts to investigate calls about gunshots.

According to Pirnat, cases in which shots are heard are written and reports are sent to the department’s criminal investigative section (CIS) for information purposes. If shell casings or damage is found, it is written as “unlawful discharge” and actively investigated by CIS.

All cases are tracked to include firearm caliber to help identify potential trends. Additionally, all shootings with sustained damage require a consult with a CIS detective. If a house is damaged, then it’s a call-out for a detective.

Finally, if a person is shot or targeted, a consult with Major Crimes must take place.

She also said police presence has increased in and around the Hunters Woods area to increase visibility and deter potential crime. That includes the addition of a police cruiser last month that is driving through the area with a non-flashing light bar.

“We’re trying to be visible. We want to detect and deter crime,” Pirnat said. “We want people to get used to seeing us and trust us, and we’re trying to take a more graceful approach, if you will, and have these conversations.”

The increased presence also includes splitting the bike patrol team into two units and increasing the presence of the neighborhood patrol unit officers.

Sergeant Joe Woloszyn, the unit patrol supervisor in Reston, added the bike team is riding the bikes in addition to patrolling the area and walkways on foot. He said that the walkways seem safe to him during the daytime, but added that calls for suspicious people typically come out during the darker hours.

Woloszyn said they “see a lot of” calls about marijuana being smoked on the trails. Second Lieutenant Anthony Stancampiano, a patrol supervisor in Reston, clarified that the police will still respond to calls about marijuana, but since it was decriminalized in Virginia “it really does limit” the ability for officers to enforce other than asking individual for their ID and charging them with a summons to court.

Photo via the Fairfax County Government website

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