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.
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.
No matter where you live, follow these crime prevention tips to help reduce the likelihood for criminal activity. Never assume your home or neighborhood is immune from criminal activity as criminals will purposely seek out homes or neighborhoods that they believe present easy targets.
- Be aware of your surroundings.
- Park in well-lit areas and activate exterior lights at your home.
- Close and lock all windows and doors when you park. Double click the lock button on the key fob to receive a confirmation beep/chirp or pull on the door handle to verify it’s locked.
- Take all valuables out of your vehicle.
- Never leave your keys, key fobs, or valet keys in your vehicle. This includes keys to a secondary vehicle.
- Keep your garage door closed and locked. If a thief can get into a vehicle, they can have access to a garage door opener and can gain access to your home.
- Never leave the area while your vehicle is running – even for a short duration of time.
- Consider installing effective home surveillance cameras. Be mindful that if a home surveillance system captures a larceny from auto in progress, they do not always provide the overwhelming evidence needed to prosecute a case.
- Participate in the 9 P.M. Routine and encourage your family, friends and neighbors to do so too.
Report Suspicious Activity to Police for Investigation
Arlington County Police officers proactively patrol Arlington’s neighborhoods to identify and prevent criminal activity. The department’s efforts are enhanced by the active involvement of residents and this investigation began when an observant individual called the Emergency Communications Center to report suspicious activity. These efforts by the public not only aid the police but help make our neighborhoods a safer place to live and work.
Suspicious activity is an occurrence that is out of place in your neighborhood. Common suspicious activity factors in vehicle-related property crimes cases include observing individual(s) looking into your or your neighbors’ cars, individual(s) walking down the street and trying multiple vehicle door handles, and vehicles with open doors with the interior dome lights on.
Factors such as race, ethnicity, national origin, or religious affiliation alone are not suspicious. The public should report only suspicious behavior and situations rather than beliefs, thoughts, ideas or expressions.
Residents observing suspicious activity should contact the Emergency Communications Center at 703-558-2222. If you see a suspect in your vehicle, do not approach them and dial 9-1-1 immediately.