Local police are investigating a spree of thefts from unlocked cars in Reston.
Police believe suspects have entered more than 30 unlocked cars and stolen valuables, like purses, credit cards, cash and electronics, between May and June. The suspects were captured on surveillance footage recently, the Fairfax County Police Department announced yesterday (Tuesday).
The issue is not isolated to the Reston District, police said, adding that vehicle break-ins and unlocked cars have become “easy targets” for suspects.
“It is important that the community works together to prevent easy access to unattended cars,” police said. “Often, suspects will walk around a community and check for unlocked cars. Sometimes these suspects get lucky because keys are left inside the vehicle.”
FCPD issued the following tips to protect vehicles:
• Lock your car and avoid leaving your keys in the car.
• Park in public places with lots of streetlights.
• Keep the windows rolled up when you park.
• Install car alarm systems and/or GPS systems.
• Do not leave any personal or valuable belongings inside your car.
• Do not leave your car turned on and unattended.
• Do not leave a spare key where it can be found.
• Utilize Security Cameras and floodlights.
• Know where you’re going.
• Practice proper automotive maintenance.
• Always stay aware of your surroundings.
• Do not store important personal documents in your vehicle.
• Report suspicious activity to our non-emergency number at (703) 691-2131. If you have an emergency, call 911.
Fairfax County has officially welcomed two new Flagship Carwash locations.
The regional car washing and detailing company recently added shops in Fairfax City and Annandale. Another location opened in Woodbridge, bringing the number of locations in Virginia to 23.
The Fairfax and Woodbridge locations are now open. A grand opening weekend event is set for the Annandale location at 7333 Little River Turnpike today through Sunday (June 16-18).
Free car washes, prize raffles and giveaways will be offered. Annandale residents will also get 50% off of the first month of unlimited membership through June 30.
Previously a Soaps & Suds Carwash, the Annandale location was renovated to “bring equipment and technology up to Flagship standards,” according to the company.
The Fairfax location is located at 10874 Fairfax Blvd. It’s open 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. daily.
“We’re thrilled to open our doors to three more communities in Virginia, meeting a long-time, growing demand for an efficient and high-quality car washes,” Flagship Carwash Vice President and General Manager Dave Dittman said. “We understand the toll the DMV’s climate takes on our cars so we’re proud to offer the flexibility and convenience of our subscription programs with so many locations to choose from around your home or work.”
The company was founded in 1986. Flagship Carwash owns and operates more than 30 full-service and express car wash locations, including in Vienna and Herndon.
A Vienna warehouse recently vacated by the U.S. Postal Service is being eyed as a potential storage site for classic cars.
Roadhouse Development Company LLC is seeking to lease the existing, 34,241-square-foot warehouse at 831 Follin Lane SE for indoor car storage, according to a certificate of occupancy application scheduled to go before the Town of Vienna Planning Commission tonight (Wednesday).
The USPS exited the warehouse earlier this year after utilizing it “on an irregular basis when mail loads are high,” town staff said in a report to the commission.
“This is an opportunity for owners of classic and exotic vehicles to store their vehicles in a climate-controlled environment and use them as desired,” Walsh Colucci lawyer Lynne Strobel said in a statement of justification for the applicant.
Dating back to at least the 1960s, the warehouse is located at the rear of the site where it backs up to the Washington & Old Dominion Trail. The parcel also has an office building that’s currently occupied by the FBI’s Terrorist Screening Center, according to town staff.
Designated by the town’s comprehensive plan as a corporate office park, the site has been approved for additional office development, but staff concede that that vision is unlikely to materialize soon.
“The market for such office development is weak, and the location of this building is particularly challenging in terms of marketability as it is not easily visible from any major transportation corridor,” the staff report says.
Roadhouse Development has proposed operating the storage facility as an interim use until the future office development moves forward.
According to the application, the business will operate daily from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. Vehicle owners will be required to provide 24-hour notice for deliveries and pickups, and only the approximately four on-site employees will be allowed to actually drive the vehicles into and out of the building.
Owners can park other vehicles on the site for up to 48 hours while using their stored car. Storage contracts will be available on a monthly or annual basis.
In addition to storage, the warehouse will have an interior detailing bay and provide maintenance services, such as weekly tire pressure checks and battery monitoring, according to Roadhouse.
The application says only “cosmetic” improvements are proposed to the building’s exterior, and no road or driveway changes are needed.
Even though the business is focused on vehicle storage, it’s expected to have “little to no impact on the surrounding road network,” because most trips will be scheduled outside of peak traffic hours, according to Strobel.
“Owners typically want to use their vehicles on weekends or for a specific trip and not on a daily basis,” Strobel wrote. “Given the requirement of 24 hours advance notice…the Applicant can easily stagger arrivals as needed. It is anticipated that the proposed use will generate tax revenue for the Town and will also bring people to the Town who will patronize restaurants and businesses.”
Town staff said they concluded the proposal is a “reasonable” use for the site. However, after getting the planning commission’s recommendation, it must be approved by the Vienna Town Council because warehouse storage isn’t a permitted use in the property’s current zoning district.
Photo via Ryan De Hamer on Unsplash
Vienna residents who own a Hyundai can now obtain a free steering wheel lock from the town’s police department.
The Vienna Police Department has “several” wheel locks on hand from Hyundai Motor Company, which launched a national campaign in response to a TikTok challenge that has inspired an increase in thefts of Hyundai and Kia vehicles.
“The Town of Vienna Police Department is taking a proactive approach to combat the uptick in thefts of Hyundai and Kia vehicles across the United States,” police said in a news release. “Owners of these cars may be wondering how to make their vehicles less appealing to thieves. Locking a vehicle’s doors is a very effective deterrent but, adding a steering wheel lock may provide an additional layer of protection.”
The locks are available to Vienna residents in the zip code 22180 who own a Hyundai vehicle with a key ignition that was made in 2010 to 2021.
Starting today (Monday), the devices can be picked up in the lobby of the police station at 215 Center Street South from 8 a.m. to 2 p.m. on Monday through Friday.
Thefts began to surge in 2021 when TikTok users started posting videos under the hashtag “Kia Boyz” encouraging teens to steal Kia and Hyundai vehicles by taking off their steering wheels and hotwiring them with a USB cable, according to CNBC.
The videos revealed that models manufactured from 2010 to 2021 that use mechanical keys — rather than push button ignitions — are vulnerable to theft due to their lack of immobilizer systems, which prevent hotwiring using computer chips in key fobs that communicate with the engine.
The Fairfax County Police Department reported 28 carjackings last year, up from 16 in 2021, and seven to open 2023, as of Feb. 10. The data that the department shared with FFXnow didn’t specify how many incidents involved Hyundai or Kia vehicles, but it confirmed those were targeted in a series of stolen or damaged vehicle reports in Lorton on Jan. 14.
At that time, the FCPD said its officers had taken 24 reports for stolen Hyundai vehicles and 13 reports for stolen Kia vehicles between Nov. 22 and Jan. 17.
Hyundai and Kia announced in February that they will provide free software upgrades for approximately 8.3 million vulnerable cars.
The Fairfax County Police Department (FCPD) is expanding the use of automated license plate reader technology across the county, despite concerns from civil rights groups.
The department will install 25 automated license plate readers (ALPRs) around Fairfax County by the spring, FCPD spokesperson Sergeant Hudson Bull confirmed to FFXnow.
This expansion of the program comes after an eight-week “test period,” where the camera system was placed in two locations and assisted in “over 35 cases which have led to over 60 arrest charges,” Bull said.
Based on that data, the trial period has now been extended an additional 10 months to Oct. 31, 2023.
Over the next nine months, cameras will watch more than two dozen “high-crime” areas in the county.
“The camera placement is based on data showing where most stolen vehicles are recovered and where most crime occurs that we believe these cameras could assist us in solving,” Bull said.
The camera system comes from Flock Safety, which has installed ALPRs in more than 2,000 localities across the country.
The ALPR cameras capture license plates, vehicle color, make and model, and send a “real-time alert” to law enforcement when a stolen car or a vehicle used in a crime is detected within a database.
During the initial trial period in November and December, FCPD says the system helped it recover six stolen cars worth an estimated $350,000. In one car, fentanyl and methamphetamines were found, and another had more than five pounds of marijuana, police say.
The system also helped police locate two missing persons when the cameras detected vehicles associated with those cases.
“Two persons were quickly located by officers and safely returned home after alerts were sent,” Bull wrote. “The officers can also search the cameras in cases when a person has been missing for several hours but there is a delay in reporting.”
While Flock Safety and FCPD tout ALPRs as crime prevention and solving tools, local civil rights groups have a number of ethical and privacy concerns about the county expanding the program.
The American Civil Liberties Union of Virginia (ACLU-VA) said it wasn’t aware of the program’s expansion prior to being contacted by FFXnow.
“The ACLU is always concerned about the efforts to expand mass surveillance,” ACLU-VA senior staff attorney Matt Callahan told FFXnow. “We consider the privacy of individuals and their freedom of movement to be a core value of society.”
He noted that the organization believes decisions to use ALPRs and other tracking or surveillance technology should be “in the public’s hands” and not solely left to law enforcement or individual vendors like Flock. Read More
Fairfax County is again asking the state for money to offset anticipated reductions in resident vehicle tax payments.
At a meeting on Tuesday (Jan. 24), the Board of Supervisors unanimously approved a letter written by Chairman Jeff McKay for Gov. Glenn Youngkin, asking him to include money in his budget for localities to blunt the impact of a 15% decrease in car tax revenue.
“We all heard last year the complaints that came in. I don’t think people understand that we don’t set the value of cars. They are set by others,” Chairman Jeff McKay said. “So, the tool that we had in our toolbox was to automatically put a reduction in value on all those vehicles in the county. Even with that, most people’s…tax bills went up.”
Over the last several years, used car prices have increased dramatically, though they’ve started to come down in recent weeks. Because of that, many county taxpayers are paying significantly more in personal property tax — also known as the “car tax.”
Last year, the Board approved assessing vehicles at only 85% of market value in order to give some relief to county taxpayers. That came after Youngkin signed legislation giving localities express permission to do that, in accordance with the Dillon Rule.
However, the county relies on that money as part of its tax revenue to fund services. In 1998, Virginia passed the Personal Property Tax Relief Act, which dictates that the state should offer car tax relief and subsidize localities for lost revenue owed on the first $20,000 of a vehicle’s value.
But the amount of funding provided to localities hasn’t changed since 2007, and Virginia now provides 20% less relief. In other words, both taxpayers and the county government are getting significantly less money from the state than they did 16 years ago.
After cutting another 15% for fiscal year 2023, which began July 1, 2022, the Fairfax County board is asking to get more money back from the state — a request also made to the governor last year, McKay’s board matter notes.
Youngkin has suggested cutting the car tax entirely, but county officials have expressed some trepidation about the consequences unless the money is reimbursed. McKay said reimbursement might be possible now considering the state’s nearly $2 billion surplus.
“While either the state or county could eliminate car taxes all together, the state should honor its pledge of 1998 to eliminate the car tax while reimbursing local governments for lost revenue,” the letter to Youngkin says. “It is essential and possible, particularly as the state currently sits on a significant surplus, to allocate adequate funding to provide residents with effective personal property tax relief.”
Braddock District Supervisor James Walkinshaw argued that the state can’t truly claim to have a surplus until “the Commonwealth pays its bills…and this is an example.”
“If it doesn’t happen this year with the surplus that exists, it ain’t going to happen next year or the year after that,” he said.
A meet-up of car enthusiasts in Bailey’s Crossroads took a harrowing turn last night when air rifle shots were reportedly fired into the crowd.
The Fairfax County Police Department had officers at a shopping center parking lot in the 5500 block of Leesburg Pike, where a “Taco Tuesday” car meet organized by the group Capital Mischief was taking place.
Around 8:46 p.m., an unidentified person shot what were believed to be BB or pellet gun rounds toward the officers, according to an FCPD spokesperson.
No police officers were hit, but a preliminary investigation indicates that three to four vehicles and one or two people attending the meet were struck, police say.
“They were treated for injuries not considered life-threatening. No FCPD cruisers were struck,” FCPD spokesperson Tara Gerhard told FFXnow.
The officers cleared the parking lot following the shots fired incident.
In an Instagram story, Capital Mischief said the shots didn’t come from anyone at the car meet, but rather, from an apartment building across the street. Gerhard said that hasn’t been confirmed at this point in the investigation.
“We wish that everybody injured heals quickly & any cars damaged are fixed with the proper parties being held responsible,” Capital Mischief wrote. “We appreciate the cooperation & help of the local police in responding and helping the situation.”
H/t to Alan Henney
Herndon will soon be home to two Flagship Carwash locations.
A new location is set to open at the Village Center at Dulles, a shopping center located at at 2501 Centreville Road, according to signage posted at the storefront.
There’s no word yet on when it’s expected to open. Flagship’s website simply says coming soon, and the company did not return a request for comment.
The company already has a location on 632 Grant Street in the Town of Herndon.
The business offers automatic tunnel washes, compressed air, vacuums and other services.
The tenant will occupy a little over 3,100 square feet at the tail end of the shopping center. The center currently has eight tenant spaces available, according to the property owner’s website.
Four cars were stolen early Wednesday morning in the Rose Hill neighborhood, according to police.
The cars were taken near South Van Dorn Street and Franconia Road. A resident reported that a group of men attempted to enter several vehicles in the area around 5 a.m.
But the individuals left he area before police officers arrived on the scene.
Two of the four vehicles were found in Washington, DC. An unidentified number of other vehicles were also entered — all of which were unlocked.
Police published the following surveillance video — taken from a home-based system — in hopes of finding more information.
Here’s how to contact FCPD with information about the incidents:
Anyone with information about this case, or others possibly related, is asked to contact detectives at 703-691-2131. Tips can also be submitted anonymously through Crime Solvers by phone – 1-866-411-TIPS (866-411-8477) and by web – Click HERE. Download the ‘P3 Tips’ App and follow the steps to “Fairfax Co Crime Solvers.” Anonymous tipsters are eligible for cash rewards of $100 to $1,000 dollars. Please leave contact information if you wish for a detective to follow up with you.
A burglar broke into a Tysons auto dealership to steal the same car twice over 48 hours, according to police.
A 2021 Dodge Durango was first stolen at 4 a.m. on September 12 from the dealership at 1592 Spring Hill Road. The car was later recovered from another jurisdiction and returned to the dealership.
Two days after the initial burglary the same car was stolen again, according to the Fairfax County Police Department.
“Detectives from our auto crime environment unit have been assigned to this investigation,” said Sgt. Lane Hamilton.
Preliminarily, police believe one individual is behind the burglaries.
There are several auto dealerships located on Spring Hill Road. The police department did not disclose exactly which dealership was burglarized.