Alexandria, VA

Alexandria Police are investigating a spike in the number of airbags being stolen from vehicles in the middle of the night.

The most recent incidents were reported on Feb. 28, when up to nine vehicles were broken into and airbags were stolen from the Southern Towers apartment complex in the 4900 block of Seminary Road in the West End. There were also up to 15 airbags stolen at the end of last October in the 5000 block of Eisenhower Avenue.

It appears that these are two isolated incidents, according to police.

“They’re not particularly targeting Southern Towers for larcenies,” APD officer Bennie L. Evans told the Southern Towers community in a Zoom chat last week. “It’s just something that happened, partly because of the locality and access to the interstate.”

Police Chief Michael L. Brown said airbags are easy to steal, and their thefts are part of increasing regional and national trends.

“Those are very expensive parts, and they’re easy to move in a secondary market,” Brown said.

Police are asking residents to file a report if their airbags are stolen, and advise folks to lock their vehicles, take out valuables and call 911 in case of suspicious activity.

Map via Google Maps

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A young child is safe after the vehicle they were sitting in was briefly stolen on Tuesday afternoon in Arlandria.

The child was left alone in the car for a few minutes and the engine was left running in the 3900 block of Executive Avenue. When the car owner returned from inside an apartment, he saw a man stealing his car with the child sitting in the back seat.

“The suspect stopped the vehicle about a block away, jumped out and ran away,” according to Alexandria police. “The victim chased the suspect for several blocks until the suspect brandished a firearm. The victim then returned to the scene of the incident. The suspect got away.”

The child was uninjured.

The theft occurred around the corner from where a man was stabbed in the leg on Wednesday, March 3.

The incident is the third reported theft of a vehicle this year with the keys left inside the car. In the first incident, local business owner Allison Priebe’s car was stolen while she pumped gas in Old Town on Feb. 7, followed by a second incident at a gas station in Crystal City on Feb. 18.

The incident has prompted a number of city departments to ask residents not to leave children unattended in cars.

“Remember, never leave a child in a vehicle unattended,” police said. “Always lock your vehicle’s doors. Keep your keys, key fobs and valuables either on your person, hidden or locked up in a safe place.”

Anyone with information about the case is urged to contact Detective Anthony LaRusso at 703-746-6618. Callers can remain anonymous.

Map via Google Maps

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It was a cold and snowy week in Alexandria.

Our top story this week was on plans to redevelop the GenOn power plant in Old Town North. It looks like deconstruction of the plant will start in 2023 and developers are looking at converting it into an urban, mixed-use property with housing.

The short work week started with news that Alexandria reached 10,000 cases of COVID-19. The latest figures show that there are 10,113 cases and 104 total deaths in the city, according to the Virginia Department of Health. The city’s seven-day moving average is now 35.1 cases.

A 49-year-old homeless woman was found dead in Arlandria on Tuesday morning, and the mayor told us that homelessness is on the rise in the city. ALXnow is following up with the city on the issue.

Tuesday morning also brought news that Alexandria City Councilman Mo Seifeldein abandoned his run for mayor and will not seek reelection to council. Seifeldein was hired as a trial lawyer by the U.S. Department of Labor in Jan. 2020, and while he can finish out his term on council, he can not run unless he files as an independent candidate.

In other election news, the race for city council is starting to get crowded, as Bill Rossello, a co-founder of the Bring Integrity Back to Alexandria Facebook Group, just threw his hat into the ring.

On the vaccine front, the waiting list has surpassed 45,000 and it may be until late summer that the vaccine is widely available in the city. On Thursday, Mayor Justin Wilson also asked the governor to open vaccine eligibility for restaurant, personal care and retail workers.

More than 200 people responded to this week’s poll on power outages. There have been a number of outages over tha last year, and 73% of respondents reported experiencing an outage, while 26% report that their homes haven’t been impacted.

In case you missed them, here are some other important stories this week:

Here are our top stories of the week in Alexandria:

  1. Developers Lay Out Multi-Year Timeline for GenOn Plant Redevelopment
  2. BREAKING: Homeless Woman Found Dead on Mount Vernon Avenue
  3. Alexandria Boxer Troy Isley Goes Pro With Big Fight Next Week
  4. Seifeldein Not Running for Mayor, Leaving Alexandria City Council
  5. ALXnow’s Top Stories this Week in Alexandria
  6. Director of Finance: Alexandria’s Real Estate Assessments Are a ‘Tale of Two Markets’
  7. Local Business Owner Robbed of Car While Pumping Gas at Old Town Gas Station
  8. Torpedo Factory Overhaul Heads to City Council Next Month
  9. Snow: Up to 6 Inches of Snow and Ice Expected in Alexandria
  10. BREAKING: Alexandria Police Investigate Second Car Stolen While Owner Pumps Gas
  11. Local Facebook Watchdog Group Founder Bill Rossello Announces Run for City Council

Have a safe weekend!

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Alexandria Police are investigating the second car stolen this month from a gas station — while the owner is pumping gas. The most recent incident occurred at around 9 a.m. Thursday morning at a gas station in the 2300 block of Richmond Highway in Crystal City.

“The victim had just finished pumping gas when the vehicle was stolen around 9:30 this morning,” according to Alexandria Police. “The suspect accessed the vehicle through an unlocked door.”

No one was injured. The vehicle was found 90 minutes later in the 2600 block of 18th Street SE in the District. Police located it through its tracking system.

ALXnow has reached out to the police for more and will update the story accordingly.

This is the second incident of its kind to occur this month. On Feb. 7, local business owner Allison Priebe‘s car was stolen while she pumped gas.

“For your own safety and protection, lock your doors and keep your keys and key fobs on your person when pumping gas,” police advised.

Map via Google Maps

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It was a cold week in Alexandria.

With bits of snow and temperatures hovering at around freezing, our top story this week was on Allison Priebe, the local business owner who was robbed while pumping gas in Old Town. Police later released suspect photos and advise anyone pumping gas to keep their keys with them and lock their vehicles.

On the coronavirus front, Alexandria is now at 9,903 cases and no new deaths, which is an increase of about 150 cases since Monday’s report. Meanwhile, as the city contends with a growing vaccine waiting list, the Health Department is warning residents of COVID-19 vaccine scams.

More than 260 people participated in our weekly poll. This week we asked about voting in the upcoming City Council and mayoral elections, and 87% plan on voting in the primary and general election; 6% only plan on voting in the primary; 5% aren’t voting and 1% will only vote in the primary.

In case you missed them, here are some other important stories this week:

Here are our top stories of the week in Alexandria:

  1. Local Business Owner Robbed of Car While Pumping Gas at Old Town Gas Station
  2. BREAKING: Large Power Outage Reported in Old Town
  3. ACPS Releases Semifinalist Names for T.C. Williams High School and Matthew Maury Elementary School Renaming
  4. Just In: ‘QAnon Shaman’ from Capitol Siege Transferred to Alexandria Jail
  5. Poll: What Do You Think of the Proposed Heritage Development in Old Town
  6. Mayor: Brace Yourselves, It Could be End of Summer Before City Moves into Next Vaccine Phase
  7. BREAKING: Councilman Mo Seifeldein Running for Alexandria Mayor, Hatch Act Conflict in Question
  8. Alexandria Sheriff: Jailed ‘QAnon Shaman’s’ Organic Food Request is Normal
  9. Just In: James Lewis Files Paperwork to Enter City Council Race
  10. Photos: The Regal Potomac Yard Movie Theater is Being Torn Down
  11. City Councilman’s Virtual Super Bowl Party Ambushed by Racists and Nazi Trolls

Photo via Alexandria Police

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Alexandria Police released photos of two suspects they say stole an SUV from a city resident while she was pumping gas at the Liberty gas station in Old Town on Sunday afternoon.

Police said that security cameras caught the suspects stealing the white 2017 Lexus GS400 from local business owner Allison Priebe on Sunday at around 1 p.m. at the gas station at 700 S. Patrick Street.

The were driving a black 2018-2021 Mazda 6 with Maryland temporary tags.

“The suspect accessed the vehicle through an unlocked door,” police reported in a press release. “There were no injuries reported.”

Police said that security cameras revealed that the suspects tried using Priebe’s credit card in Prince George’s County, Maryland.

“They got away with a goldmine,” Priebe told ALXnow. “I had significant contents in my car — my purse, all the money I made from the warehouse sale, my rent in cash, coats, shoes, my laptop, my briefcase — everything that you need to function as an adult.”

Priebe estimates that she lost a minimum of $10,000 worth of cash and other valuables.

Priebe said that the larger of the two suspects was the man who stole her car. They took it to a Sunoco gas station to fill it up at National Harbor and then bought five $200 gift cards. A suspect then tried to sell her laptop at an electronics shop in District Heights, Maryland.

Police recommend drivers to lock their doors when leaving their cars unattended, and to “keep your keys in hand when pumping gas.”

Anyone with information on the suspects is asked to contact Detective Walter Boyd at 703-746-6245.

Photos via Alexandria Police Department

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Two men have been arrested after allegedly trying to resell stolen cars and nearly running over an Alexandria Police officer.

Michael Daugherty, an 18-year-old resident of Washington, D.C., and a 20-year-old man from Prince George’s County, Maryland, were arrested on Dec. 7 after allegedly fleeing the Yasini Auto Gallery near the King Street-Old Town Metro station in a stolen white Toyota RAV4.

The suspects allegedly refused an Alexandria Police officer’s order to stop and nearly hit him, according to a search warrant affidavit. The vehicle was later found abandoned less than a half mile away on Roberts Lane near the Mason Garden Apartments.

Alexandria Police have connected the incident with the November theft of multiple cars that were listed on the OfferUp website. In those cases, owners who advertised their vehicles for sale on OfferUP met the suspects at predetermined locations and were given false checks of up to $22,000. The suspects then drove away in the cars and at least one of the cars was listed on the same website.

The auto gallery ended up buying a Chevrolet Camaro for $4,000 that had been stolen on Nov. 4 after the victim had been given a false check for $23,000. The auto gallery then posted the car for sale on its OfferUp profile.

“We gonna bring you more cars anyway but we want at least 5 (thousand dollars for the Camaro),” the suspects allegedly told the Yasini representative, according to the affidavit.

After being contacted about the stolen car by Alexandria Police, the owner of the dealership reported on Dec. 7 that two of the suspects responsible for selling the vehicles were trying to sell him another one.

“Police arrived on scene… and attempted to stop the individuals in the vehicle by commanding them to stop after receiving confirmation they were the suspects,” police reported in the affidavit. “The vehicle did not stop and almost struck the officers attempting to stop the vehicle.”

Police found the suspects near the abandoned RAV4 and confirmed their identities by getting their cell phone numbers from the owner of the dealership.

Daugherty was released on bond on Dec. 8 after being charged with attempted assault on law enforcement, receiving/buying stolen goods and failure to remain at an accident involving property damage. The 20-year-old suspect was charged with violating a protective order and was released on bond that same day.

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Alexandria Police are investigating a scam where owners posting cars for sale on the OfferUp marketplace are having them stolen after being handed fraudulent checks.

The cars have since been found for sale by the suspects on OfferUp.

“The description of the suspect in both incidents is similar and the vehicles involved are identical,” police said in a search warrant affidavit.

On Nov. 4, a man reported to police that his 2018 Chevrolet Camaro was stolen. The man posted the car for sale for $23,000 on OfferUp and was contacted by the suspect, who was accompanied by a man in a white Audi A6 or A8 with DC tags, according to the affidavit.

The suspect handed over a check for $22,500 and drove away with the car. The man then took the check to the bank and they told him it was a fake. The man contacted police after finding his car being sold by the suspect on OfferUp, according to the affidavit.

On Nov. 5, a woman and her grandson reported to police that her 2014 BMW 535 was stolen. The woman allowed her grandson to post the car for sale for $14,700 on OfferUp, according to another affidavit.

The grandson met the suspect in the 4900 block of Seminary Road on Nov. 4. The suspect gave the man a check for $14,700 made out to his grandmother and then “quickly” drove away in the car, according to police.

The victim got suspicious and decided to follow the car.

“(The victim) was unable to do so because… other vehicles that appeared to be accompanying the suspect blocked his path and then proceeded to disregard a red light and hastily drove out of the area,” according to the affidavit. “The suspect was driving a white Chevrolet Camaro, and the other vehicles were an Audi A6 and a BMW 33 series with red rims.”

The grandmother was told it was a fake check when she took it to her bank. Police later found the car being sold by an account on OfferUp for approximately the same price she was asking before it was stolen.

Alexandria Police spokesman Lt. Courtney Ballantine advises anyone selling their car to accept cashier’s checks and money orders, not personal checks.

“Be smart, be safe,” Ballantine said. “Only accept cashier’s checks and money orders, because that’s just cash.”

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As you park at home and head inside after getting back from a flea market or cat cafe, maybe check one more time to make sure you’ve locked your car.

At a City Council meeting earlier this week, Mayor Justin Wilson said a spate of recent car thefts have mostly targeted unlocked cars.

“One of the things: and it showed up in the data we received, one of the thing it shows is thefts from vehicles and theft of vehicles, a stunning percentage are unlocked vehicles,” Wilson said.

While the police department is continuing to conduct investigations into the thefts, Wilson said the police are also going to move forward with an educational campaign to remind locals to lock their cars.

“A big part of the conversation is one of education,” Wilson said. “It’s a crime of opportunity. The criminal element is going door to door on cars at night and they find a stunning amount of vehicles unlocked. It’s a testament to a safe community that we forget to lock our car doors.”

Crime, in general, has been up this year compared to last year, particularly for vehicle thefts. A man was arrested earlier this month for car theft. While many of the car-related crimes have been non-violent, there have also been several carjackings, some of which have left victims injured.

“I think we can go a long way to reducing those numbers if we can get people to lock their doors,” Wilson said, “but there’s a fair amount of investigative work going into the ones we can’t prevent.”

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It was a historic week in Alexandria.

Alexandrians overwhelmingly helped reelect U.S. Senator Mark Warner and Congressman Don Beyer, and 80% of voters chose Democrat former Vice President Joe Biden for president over incumbent Republican President Donald Trump.

Out top story this week was election-related. It turns out that before election day several Alexandria households with Joe Biden signs were sent letters with a Northern Virginia postage mark stating that Biden is a pedophile. The Chair of the Alexandria Democratic Committee advised that anyone who receives such notes should call the police. The police, in turn, are sending along the information to the U.S. Postal Inspection Service.

Additionally, 91 people participated in our weekly poll. This week we asked about election night plans, and 65% of respondents said they were staying home to watch the results, 24% had no eleciton night plans, 10% planned to protest that evening, and 1% were going to an election night event.

School News

Alexandria City Public Schools were back in action this week — sort of. While the ACPS opened in-person classes on Thursday, fewer than 10 students made it to class. There were about 60 students eligible to go back to school, since only kids with kindergarten through second graders with disabilities were allowed to attend Jefferson-Houston PreK-8 IB School.

It was the first in-person public schooling in Alexandria since the pandemic shut down schools in March. ACPS plans to expand opening for all citywide special education students by December. Meanwhile, however, hundreds of parents want the school system to open and have started the #OpenACPS messaging campaign.

Also in school news, a two-year-long court battle was settled with the city and 15 Alexandria homeowners were settled regarding the addition of stadium lights to Parker-Gray Stadium at T.C. Williams High School.

The Week in Crime

The week started with news that there were two shootings in Alexandria over the weekend.

The was also the story of a 17-year-old on the run since last month after allegedly stealing a car in the West End. The juvenile, who later admitted stealing the car, was seen by the victim — a federal law enforcement officer — driving past his house, and the victim got into another of his cars and followed the suspect. The victim got the juvenile out of his car and held him at the scene until police arrived, and the juvenile left the area after being charged.

We also covered the story of the ‘Beltway Bank Bandit’. Freddie Lee McRae, 34, of Washington D.C., pleaded guilty to three counts of brandishing a firearm during a series of bank and shoe store robberies in and around Alexandria in 2018 and 2019. He will be sentenced on February 23, 2021, and faces up to life in prison and a mandatory minimum of 21 years in prison.

Health and Business

As of Friday there were 76 deaths attributed to the coronavirus in Alexandria, and the case count stands at 4,444, according to the Virginia Department of Health. Latino residents continue to lead the case count.

We also reported that longtime Del Ray staple, Al’s Steak House, is for sale since the owner passed away.

This week also saw fewer continued and initial unemployment claims in Alexandria.

Here are ALXnow’s top stories of the week in Alexandria:

  1. Alexandrians with Joe Biden Yard Signs Get Anonymous Letters Saying Biden is a Pedophile
  2. Del Ray Staple Al’s Steak House for Sale After Owner’s Death
  3. Republican Jeff Jordan Running Uphill Battle Against Incumbent Rep. Don Beyer
  4. Braddock West Project Headed to Planning Commission Later This Year
  5. Identity Released of Old Town North Suspect Killed in Shootout
  6. Soft Opening for New Chicken Joint in North Old Town Today
  7. Alexandria Parents Start #OpenACPS Sign Campaign as School System Begins Partial Reopening
  8. Juvenile Allegedly Steals Car and is Tracked Down by Victim in the West End
  9. BREAKING: Massive Power Outage Reported in Alexandria
  10. The Alexandria Drive-In Just Kicked Off an Encore Series on Halloween
  11. Did You Know: The Tall Ship Providence Encountered a Ghost Ship in 1777

Have a safe weekend!

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