Morning Notes

A dog cools off under some greenery (via vantagehill/Flickr)

Reminder: Excessive Heat Watch Takes Effect Today — Fairfax County and the rest of the D.C. area will be under an Excessive Heat Watch from noon to 8 p.m. The heat index could reach 105 to 110 degrees Fahrenheit, so the National Weather Service advises drinking plenty of fluids, staying inside as much as possible, and checking up on neighbors and relatives. [NWS]

Hunters Woods Garden Thieves Resurface — Thieves that reportedly stole thousands of dollars in plants and other materials from two community garden plots at Hunters Woods Park in May have returned with the harvest season. Reston Association increased security around the gardens, including the installation of fencing and flood lights with sensors, but the culprits evidently have not been deterred from stealing vegetables. [Patch]

No Trespassing at Silver Line Phase 2 Stations — The Metropolitan Washington Airports Authority issued a reminder that, while Metro’s six impending Silver Line stations look finished, they are still closed “because of ongoing construction work and potential safety hazards.” MWAA maintains that they will “most likely” open in early 2022, but there is some conflict over the timeline with the project’s contractor. [Dulles Corridor Metrorail Project]

County Board Endorses Dog Park Study — The Fairfax County Park Authority Board gave its support on July 28 to a countywide dog park study that calls for at least one new park and highlights concerns about inattentive visitors, insufficient water, and surface conditions at existing parks. A draft version of the study came out in March, and the full, final report will become available next month. [FCPA]

Photo via vantagehill/Flickr

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Recent thefts at Reston community gardens are leading to increased security and involvement of the police, Reston Association announced in a statement yesterday (May 10).

Just last week, thieves stole hundreds of dollars of plants from a community garden plot in Hunter Woods Park, Patch reported.

This isn’t the first time this has happened at the garden, which is located at 2501 Reston Parkway. Incidents of this nature date back at least two years, with thieves stealing materials, supplies, tools, and even a little girl’s garden gnome.

Reston Association previously installed a 10-foot chain link fence and motion detector lights, but that didn’t prevent this past month’s robberies.

“Before this season, there was no real fencing or locked gate,” Reston Association spokesperson Mike Leone told Reston Now in an email. “So, this is the first break-in.”

The Fairfax County Police Department has received 23 theft reports from this particular community garden since last year, a police spokesperson tells Reston Now.

However, that number reflects the number of victims, rather than separate incidents, with many of the thefts occurring on the same day.

There have been six reported thefts in this past year alone, with three of them occurring on the same day. Many are happening between the months of May and July, according to the police spokesperson.

As a result, RA says it will ramp up security efforts at the community garden.

The organization is looking into upgrading the lighting and installing a trail camera that would help identify anyone coming or going from the garden. Its Central Services Facility team is also asking all gardeners to constantly check if the gates are locked and not to share the combinations with anyone.

Additionally, FCPD is increasing its presence in the area overnight to deter further thefts and break-ins.

Beyond safety concerns, gardeners spend a lot of time, money, and energy working their plots.

“We know how much the Reston’s garden plots mean to our community members,” Reston Association CEO Hank Lynch wrote in a statement. “Gardeners give their time and energy to help us manage these facilities and they get immense personal satisfaction out of growing their own plants and vegetables. We want residents of all ages to feel they can pursue this wonderful hobby in a safe and secure manner.”

The motives behind the thefts remains unclear, though one person told Patch that the nature of the stolen items and the methods used to obtain them, such as the unscrewing of wooden frames around the garden, suggest the culprits could be landscapers.

FCPD is continuing to investigate and follow-up on the reported thefts and encourages community members to report any suspicious activity they see in the garden’s vicinity.

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Morning Notes

Power Shut Off around Reston Town Center — Dominion Energy turned off power in Reston on Saturday evening (May 8) so that first responders from Fairfax County’s police and the fire departments could address “an incident involving an individual who has climbed a power transmission line.” [Fairfax Alerts]

Hunter Woods Community Gardens Plagued by Thefts — Two community gardens at Hunter Woods Park have been repeatedly targeted by thieves, who have taken thousands of dollars in plants over the past two years, volunteers say. The thefts have persisted despite the installation of surveillance cameras, motion-sensor-triggered lights, and new fencing with a padlocked gate. [Patch]

Halley Rise Officially Signs Second Tenant — The bowling, bocce, and bar venue Pinstripes has had its sights set on the Halley Rise development for at least two years, but the move is now official. This is the second retail tenant to join the mixed-use development next to the Reston Town Center Metro station, which will be anchored by Wegmans. [H&R Retail]

South Lakes Safeway Burglarized on May 2 — “A man entered the store, damaged a secured high-end liquor cabinet and stole property. An employee confronted the man and was subsequently assaulted. The man implied he had a firearm then left with the property.” [FCPD]

Contract Awarded for Fox Mill Elementary Renovation — The Fairfax County School Board voted on Thursday (May 6) to award a nearly $20 million contract to Howard Shockey & Sons, Inc. for the Fox Mill Elementary School renovation project. On-site construction work will begin this month and is expected to be completed by spring 2023. [FCPS]

Reston Wellness Center Reopens Today — The nonprofit Reston Wellness Center (1850 Cameron Glen Drive, Suite 200) is restarting in-person services on May 10 after being closed due to the pandemic. The center provides meals, employment assistance, support groups, and other services for free to people in recovery for mental health and substance use issues. [Recovery Program Solutions of Virginia]

Photo via vantagehill/Flickr

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A Reston man pleaded guilty in federal court yesterday (Wednesday) to an elaborate identity theft and fraud scheme that included the creation of counterfeit COVID-19 stimulus checks, the Department of Justice announced.

According to the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Eastern District of Virginia, which prosecuted the case at the U.S. District Court in Alexandria, 38-year-old Jonathan Drew stole mail addressed to more than 150 individuals in Fairfax County between approximately December 2019 and August 2020.

He used the stolen mail — which included bank statements, credit cards, credit card statements, W-2 forms, and more than $700,000 in checks — to open bank accounts, lease an apartment, and conduct other fraudulent transactions involving counterfeit and forged checks, wire transfers, and the unauthorized use of credit cards.

Among the stolen checks was an Economic Impact Payment check sent by the IRS as part of the federal COVID-19 relief efforts. Drew used that stolen check to create counterfeit stimulus checks ranging in amount from $1,200 to $2,400. He also managed to negotiate “his own authentically issued stimulus check twice,” according to the DOJ.

Drew pleaded guilty to bank fraud and aggravated identity theft. The plea was accepted by U.S. District Judge Anthony J. Trenga and announced by several local and federal officials, including interim Fairfax County Police Chief David Rohrer.

“We are firmly committed to holding accountable fraudsters who engage in identity theft and exploit a national economic crisis for personal gain at the expense of hardworking members of our communities,” Acting U.S. Attorney for the Eastern District of Virginia Raj Parekh said.

Drew has been scheduled for sentencing on August 25. He faces up to 32 years in prison with a mandatory minimum of two years.

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Residents Can Remove Themselves from County Waitlist — The county has launched a new online tool that allows residents to remove themselves from the county’s vaccine registration waitlist. [Fairfax County Government]

Herndon Police Investigate Series of Car Robberies — In the last week of February, the Herndon Police Department received reports of 15 vehicles being entered illegally. In these cases, only one vehicle showed signs of forced entry. [HPD]

Reston Association Board Election is Underway — This year, four candidates are vying for two at-large seats on the board. Each spring, the organization conducts elections to fill vacant seats on its nine-member board. [Reston Patch]

Photo by Doug Errett/Twitter

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A Falls Church man has been arrested in connection with two Reston burglaries and car theft, according to the Fairfax County Police Department.

On August 12 at around 1:30 p.m., homeowners contacted police about a home burglary that happened that night on the 2200 block of Double Eagle Court. A 2011 Toyota Sienna van was also taken.

Two days after the report, police found two men near the van, which was parked on the 11700 block of Briggs Court.

One of the men, David Pugnetti Webb, 23, was connected with another burglary on Aug. 8 in the 1700 block of Chimney House Road.

Webb was charged with two counts of burglary, four counts of grand larceny, credit card theft, attempted credit card fraud and possession of narcotics.

Information about the incident was released in FCPD’s weekly crime report.

Airbags were stolen from at least a dozen cars in Herndon over two days, according to police.

The incidents happened overnight on May 6 and May 7 at the Ashton at Dulles Corner apartments. A spokesperson for the Fairfax County Police Department told Reston Now the incidents are under investigation.

Residents of the apartment complex reported that only Hondas were targeted during the airbag theft streak.

Airbags, which can sell for hundreds of dollars on the black market, are easily removable and portable, allowing thieves to make a quick buck.

The National Insurance Crime Bureau says that airbags retail at around $1,000 and can be purchased on the black market for between $50 and $200.

The NICB offers the following tips to avoid becoming a victim of airbag fraud:

  • Use a reputable automobile collision repair shop that employs ASE-certified mechanics
  • Inspect the invoice to ensure the repair shop purchased the airbag from a manufacturer, dealer or recycler
  • If possible, inspect the airbag prior to installation. If new, it should be packaged in a sealed container from the manufacturer
  • The trim cover over the steering column should be the same color as the remaining trim interior. If not, it is an indication that the original airbag has been replaced
  • When you turn on your vehicle’s ignition, a red SRS (Supplemental Restraint System) indicator should light up and flash in the instrument panel display, indicating the airbag system is activated. No SRS light indicates a problem with the airbag system that could result in no airbag activation

Some national reports indicate that newer models of Hondas might be at higher risk of airbag thefts.

Photo via Megan Marie

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A location tracking app helped local police find a car that was stolen in the Town of Herndon.

Police arrested Anthony Ellison, 34, of Burke, in connection with the robbery on April 17.

The Fairfax County Police Department made the arrest after the owner of the stolen 2020 Jeep Wrangler used a tracking app to locate the vehicle and the suspect.

The car was stolen earlier in the day from the Town of Herndon.

Burke was charged with grand larceny and was held without bond.

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Local police are encouraging residents to be wary of porch pirates in Reston and Herndon. An increase in package thefts is often seen when holiday shopping is in full swing this time of year.

The Fairfax County Police Department issued the following tips to avoid package thefts:

  • Ask a neighbor to hold a package if you’re unable to pick it up
  • Ship packages to your workplace or a nearby store
  • Sign up for delivery alerts and require a signature, if possible.
  • Purchase a lockbox for your front porch or a mailbox with secured access

A recent study found that nearly 26 million Americans reported having holiday packages stolen from their doorstep or porch.

Photo via Unsplash 

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Local police warn of an uptick in the number of stolen vehicles and items stolen from vehicles in the Town of Herndon.

In a statement, the Herndon Police Department encouraged residents to lock their cars, take valuables inside and avoid leaving the car running when drivers or passengers are not inside.

County officials encouraged residents to take the following steps to protect their vehicles:

  • Install an anti-theft system in your vehicle
  • Etch your car’s vehicle identification number on each window
  • On an incline, leave your vehicle in park or in gear with the wheels turned toward the curb or another obstruction
  • Keep vehicle locked at all times, even when driving

Police indicated that most of the incidents reported in the last week were avoidable.

Photo via Unsplash

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A 19-year-old man from Herndon was arrested in connection with an abduction in Sterling Thursday night, according to the Loudoun County Sheriff’s Office.

When Sheriff’s deputies responded to a domestic incident, the female victim said that she had been with friends when two people she knew arrived and forcibly pulled her into a vehicle against her will, according to the police report. One of the two people had previously assaulted the victim, police said.

The incident occurred around 8 p.m. on Thursday (May 30) in the 400 block of Bailey Court.

Deputies arrested and charged Carlos Diaz of Herndon with strangulation and abduction and Maudillio Tuche, 41, of Sterling with abduction.

Both are being held at the Loudoun County Adult Detention Center on no bond.

The Fairfax County Police Department’s Reston District Station reported the following incidents in recent days:

LARCENIES:

11900 block of Bowman Towne Drive, Social Security card from location

1800 block of Cameron Glen Drive, license plate from vehicle

2200 block of Castle Rock Square, bicycle from location

2100 block of Centreville Road, merchandise from business

1300 block of Cold Harbor Court, gift cards from vehicle

12100 block of Glade Drive, cash from vehicle

13300 block of Glen Echo Circle, bicycle from location

2000 block of Golf Course Drive, laptop computer from vehicle

2200 block of Hunters Woods Plaza, ring from location

2300 block of Hunters Woods Plaza, merchandise from business

2500 block of John Milton Drive, liquor from business

11700 block of Leesburg Pike, license plates from vehicle

12600 block of Mill Bank Way, license plate from vehicle

12000 block of North Shore Drive, credit card from location

13300 block of Parcher Avenue, bicycle from location

1700 block of Random Stone Court, bicycle from residence

1500 block of Scandia Circle, documents from residence

1500 block of Scandia Circle, property from residence

11800 block of Spectrum Center, merchandise from business

11800 block of Spectrum Center, merchandise from business

12000 block of Town Square Street, credit cards from location

11000 block of Warwickshire Drive, radio from vehicle

1600 block of Washington Plaza, keys from location

1200 block of Weatherstone Court, bicycle from residence

1300 block of Yellow Tavern Court, electronic device from location

STOLEN VEHICLES:

2400 block of Quick Street, 2012 BMW S1000RR motorcycle

In a separate incident, an 18-year-old Herndon man was arrested and charged on Wednesday, May 29, with statutory rape against a person he knows, according to the Herndon Police Department.

Carlos Josue Castillo was transported to the Fairfax County Adult Detention Center where he is being held without bond.

Fairfax County police arrested a Reston woman and a D.C. man in connection with credit card theft and larceny after the man was found in someone else’s car.

The incident occurred on Friday (May 31) shortly before 4:30 a.m. at Camberly Avenue and Highland Street in Springfield.

While checking the area for a suspicious person, police found and arrested a man inside a car that didn’t to belong to him. The police also arrested a Reston woman associated with the man who was found nearby, according to the police report.

“The investigation led to the recovery of a stolen car, a stolen firearm, and found the man and the woman had entered several cars in the area,” according to the report.

The 28-year-old man was charged with three counts of credit card theft, auto theft, larceny of a firearm, possession of a schedule I/II drug and petit larceny. The 26-year-old woman was charged with three counts of credit card theft and one count of petit larceny.

In a separate incident, a Herndon homeowner reported on Saturday, May 25, that someone entered their garage overnight and stole personal property in the 13000 block of Monterey Estates Drive, according to FCPD.

File photo

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Waiting for a Cyber Monday order? The Fairfax County Police Department has issued several tips to protect delivered orders from “package pirates.”

“Those packages from Cyber Monday sales are starting to show up on doorsteps and we want to ensure the Grinch doesn’t steal your gifts. Unfortunately, this type of crime does happen in our community and we are offering these tips to ensure package safety this holiday season,” according to the police department.

The department suggested the following tips:

  1. Sign up for delivery alerts to know when the items are delivered.
  2. Don’t leave delivered packages unattended.  Ask a neighbor to keep an eye out for the packages and offer the same in return.
  3. Require a signature delivery for packages you ship to friends and family.
  4. Set up alternative delivery options.  Check your delivery service’s website for details.
  5. Many retailers allow you to purchase items online and pick up in store or at a locker, where they’ll be safe until you can pick them up.
  6. See if it’s possible to have packages delivered to your workplace for the holiday season.
  7. Going out of town? Hold your mail and packages.
  8. Keep an eye out for suspicious people and vehicles in your neighborhood.  Don’t be afraid to call the non-emergency number!
  9. Package theft is not just an issue around the holidays, it occurs throughout the year.  Consider investing in an exterior security system.

FCPD encourages individuals to call  the police department on its non-emergency number at 703-691-2131 to provide any information about suspicious people or vehicles.

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A pair of Reston men are among four people charged in connection with a car theft and several larcenies last month in Loudoun County.

Police believe the suspects are also involved with a series of gunfire complaints and personal property thefts over the past several months in Loudoun and Fairfax counties, according to a Tuesday news release announcing the charges.

On Sept. 11, Loudoun County Sheriff’s deputies responded to a report about suspicious entry of cars in the Willowsford community of Ashburn. Police located and arrested Justin E. Rubianes, 21, of Reston, along with a juvenile after an extensive search of the area, according to the police department.

Further investigation led to the arrests a pair of 19-year-olds: Bryan Sandoval, of Reston and Onan Nunez, of Ashburn.

All suspects were charged with auto theft, receiving stolen property and personal property theft from a vehicle, according to the release.

Detectives with the Loudoun County Sheriff’s Office and the Fairfax County Police Department have conducted several search warrants in both counties since Sept. 11, leading to the recovery of firearms, ammunition and other items police believe were stolen from cars.

The investigation is ongoing and several other arrests have been made in Fairfax County, according to the release.

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DWI enforcement police vehicle (Photo via Fairfax County Police Department)Someone nabbed a tip jar from a business in Plaza America over the New Year’s weekend.

That and another larceny — the theft of a package from a residence on Great Passage Boulevard, a Great Falls address — were the sole Reston District items on the latest Fairfax County Police crime report.

FCPD has previously given tips to help avoid package theft. Among the suggestions are to require a signature upon delivery and/or have items delivered to your workplace.

From FCPD:

RESTON DISTRICT STATION

LARCENIES:
1000 block of Great Passage Boulevard, package from residence
11600 block of Plaza America Drive, tip jar from business

STOLEN VEHICLES:
None reported

FCPD also reported an incident involving a guinea pig being thrown from a balcony in the 2200 block of Castle Rock Square, which we reported Tuesday afternoon.

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