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A Fairfax County police cruiser outside Tysons Corner Center (staff photo by James Cullum)

The Fairfax County Police Department is seeking the public’s help identifying suspects in three recent jewelry store robberies, two of which are believed to have been committed by the same people.

The first robbery occurred at the Prince Jewelers in Tysons Corner Center at 2:45 p.m. on Sept. 8, police said in a release last night (Wednesday).

The FCPD says its detectives believe preliminarily that the same men were also behind a Sept. 18 robbery at Fair Oaks Mall, where two men entered Henzley Jewelers at 1:06 p.m. and stole “a number of high-end watches.” The store’s display case was also destroyed, according to police.

“In each case, they used hammers to destroy the display cases and fled the scene in stolen vehicles,” the department said. “The stolen vehicles were found in nearby parking lots. Detectives continue to investigate, including an extensive review of surveillance footage.”

Police are also investigating a robbery of Sonia’s Jewelers & Boutique Inc. (6681 Backlick Road) in Springfield.

According to the FCPD, two men entered the store at 11:50 a.m. on Tuesday (Sept. 20):

The first man was let into the store under the guise of shopping for jewelry. Once inside he presented a handgun and instructed employees to let the second man inside. The two men used hammers to destroy the display cases and fled the scene in a black Lexus SUV with stolen license plates. The stolen vehicle in this case has not been recovered.

No injuries have been reported in any of the incidents. Detectives are still working to determine if all three cases are connected, police say.

Police describe all of the potential suspects as Black men who are about 6 feet in height. Those allegedly involved in the Tysons and Fair Oaks robberies wore gloves and masks.

The FCPD says anyone with information about these incidents or others that may be related can contact its detectives at 703-246-7800, option 3. Tips can also be submitted anonymously through Crime Solvers by phone (1-866-411-TIPS) and online.

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Inova Fair Oaks Hospital (via Google Maps)

Updated at 9:45 a.m. on 8/16/2022 — Hektor Fernando Alvarez’s employment at Virginia Hospital Center was terminated on Friday (Aug. 12), the hospital says.

Earlier: A man from Falls Church has been arrested after allegedly sexually assaulting a patient under his care when he worked at Inova Fair Oaks Hospital (3600 Joseph Siewick Drive), the Fairfax County Police Department announced today (Friday).

The victim — a patient who was receiving long-term care at the hospital — told a hospital technician on July 7 that his previous caretaker had “fondled the victim’s genitalia on two separate occasions,” police said.

Detectives from FCPD’s Major Crimes Bureau began an investigation on July 8. They identified the caretaker as 21-year-old Falls Church resident Hektor Fernando Alvarez, who was working for a company called Metropolitan Healthcare Services (MHS) that Inova had contracted “to provide sitter services for patients,” according to police.

The FCPD says Alvarez is no longer employed by MHS, but he was working as a medical technician at Virginia Hospital Center in Arlington. There have been no incidents reported at that hospital, according to the department.

Alvarez was arrested after a month-long investigation on Aug. 9 and has been charged with aggravated sexual battery with a victim through mental incapacity or helplessness.

“He was held on no bond but later released on a secured bond,” the police department said, which means the money was primarily covered by a bond company.

Prosecutors had argued for Alvarez to be denied a bond, but the judge rejected their recommendation, FFXnow was told.

Online case information indicates that Alvarez was arraigned at the Fairfax County General District Court on Wednesday (Aug. 10) and had a bond hearing yesterday (Thursday). A court employee told FFXnow that the bond was served this morning.

Inova Health System says it has been working with the victim’s family and MHS to respond to the assault allegation.

“Inova has been in contact with the patient, their family, and the contracted staffing agency in regard to this troubling alleged incident,” a spokesperson for the nonprofit said in a statement. “Safety is central to everything we do at Inova, and we expect all who work or provide services in our care sites to meet that high standard.”

The FCPD says anyone with additional information about the case can contact its detectives at 703-246-7800, option 3. Tips can also be submitted anonymously through Crime Solvers by phone (1-866-411-TIPS), and online.

“Anonymous tipsters are eligible for cash rewards of $100 to $1,000 dollars,” the FCPD said. “Please leave contact information if you wish for a detective to follow up with you.”

A preliminary hearing for Alvarez has been set for 2 p.m. on Sept. 28.

Photo via Google Maps

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Morning Notes

People walk by Caffi Field, a football field in Vienna (staff photo by Angela Woolsey)

Driver in Fatal Franconia Crash Charged With Manslaughter — Sara Flores, 20, of Lorton was charged with involuntary vehicular manslaughter yesterday morning (Thursday) for a May 12 crash in Franconia where she allegedly drove into a telephone pole, killing a passenger. Police had already obtained a warrant charging Flores with driving under the influence. [FCPD]

Developer Pleads Guilty in Teen’s Death — “The owner of a Virginia construction company that specializes in luxury homes pleaded guilty Wednesday to involuntary manslaughter in the death of a 16-year-old boy who was killed while working for his company in 2019. Thomas Digges, of Digges Development Corporation, operated the Fairfax County job site where a trench gave way and buried Spencer Lunde, of McLean, on July 23, 2019.” [NBC4]

Two Displaced by Fair Oaks Townhouse Fire — A fire at a three-story townhouse in the 12000 block of Dorforth Drive on Wednesday (Aug. 10) was caused by improperly discarded smoking materials, the Fairfax County Fire and Rescue Department says. The fire displaced two residents and resulted in approximately $175,000 in damages. [FCFRD]

One Rescued From Annandale House Fire — “8/11/22 at 1:08 a.m., in 3800 block of Gallows Road. One occupant trapped on 2nd floor was rescued by #FCFRD crews via ladder. Fire contained to basement. No injuries. NO smoke alarms found in home! Cause: improperly discarded smoking material. Damages $16K.” [FCFRD/Twitter]

County Names New Planning and Development Director — Fairfax County has appointed Tracy Strunk as director of its Department of Planning and Development, where she succeeds Barbara Byron, who retired earlier this year. Strunk’s career for the county goes back to 1998 and includes work as a planner and a member of the team that helped develop the Tysons Comprehensive Plan. [Fairfax County Government]

Fairfax County Public Schools Creates Program to Help Hire Teachers — “[Catherine] Coulter is entering her first year teaching in Virginia’s largest school system as a teaching resident, a newly-created position aimed at placing qualified teachers in classrooms while they take the final steps toward receiving a specific certification.” [WTOP]

Expansions and Renovations in Progress at FCPS — “Most students and teachers have taken the summer off, but Fairfax County Public Schools (FCPS) has been busy with its usual tall order of school renovations and additions. Improvements now are in progress at these schools in the Sun Gazette’s readership area” [Sun Gazette]

Falls Church Development Nears Movie Theater Lease — “Developers of the new Founder’s Row mixed use development…announced through a new filing with the City that it is ‘in the final stages of securing a lease with Paragon Theaters,’ noting that ‘Paragon will operate a seven-screen movie theater, including an IMAX-similar screen with a total capacity of approximately 600 seats.'” [Falls Church News-Press]

Fairfax Shopping Center Gets New Mural — “If you’ve been by the Giant at Scout on the Circle recently you might have noticed some color appearing on the walls! The Abstract Expressionist painting on the corner of the building is by Steven Johnson. Johnson is a Indiana biased artist, who recently made his art available in the public domain.” [City of Fairfax/Facebook]

It’s Friday — Partly cloudy throughout the day. High of 81 and low of 68. Sunrise at 6:21 am and sunset at 8:09 pm. [Weather.gov]

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The family-run dessert shop Messy Treatz opened at Fair Oaks Mall over the weekend (via Brittany Lacy)

A dessert shop that promises to serve up messy, gooey and sticky treats has officially opened in Fair Oaks Mall.

Messy Treatz opened over the weekend, bringing an assortment of “Messy jars,” “Messy cupcakes” and drinks to the space formerly occupied by Godiva Chocolatier at 11847U Fair Oaks Mall.

But unlike the huge conglomerate that called the space home a few months ago, Messy Treatz is a woman-owned, family-run business run by Brittany Lacy and her two daughters.

“We are hoping to bring the ooey, gooey, sticky, chewy experience to the area. We make all our cupcakes from scratch and with a lot of love. With unique flavors and some of the moistest cupcakes around,” Lacy told FFXnow by email.

The venture started off as a fun way for lacy to spend time with her young daughters by cultivating a love of baking and eating desserts.

Messy Treats was founded in 2017 and opened at the mall on Saturday, July 9.

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Morning Notes

Bella Mack of Vienna spins and jumps on roller blades at Wakefield Skate Park in Annandale (staff photo by Jay Westcott)

Underground Utilities Proposed for Route 1 — Mount Vernon District Supervisor Dan Storck has joined many residents, businesses, and state Sen. Scott Surovell (D-36) as an advocate for moving power lines along Richmond Highway underground, though that isn’t in the current designs for widening the road. Advocates say undergrounding would limit storm damage and bring economic benefits. [On the MoVe]

Metro Plans for Budget Shortfall — “Metrorail has only recovered 42% of its ridership and Metrobus has recovered about 60%. This time, Metro officials are not banking on the cavalry — in the form of a federal bailout or additional local dollars — to arrive. Later this summer, board members and new Metro General Manager Randy Clarke will begin to calculate how to plug a $356 million operating budget gap.” [DCist]

Police Investigate Gunshot in Fair Oaks — “Fairfax County Police are investigating a shooting that occurred early Tuesday morning in the Fair Oaks area, according to the weekly crime report. Police responded around 3:18 a.m., for the report of a man firing a handgun into the air in the 12000 block of Thompson Road.” [Patch]

Bailey’s Crossroads Library Volunteer Honored — “Fairfax County officials gathered Saturday to honor Carmen Fernandez, a longtime pillar of the Culmore community. A conference room at the Woodrow Wilson Library in Falls Church now bears plaques in Fernandez’s honor.” [Fairfax County Public Library]

McLean Theater Group Retakes the Stage — “McLean Community Players is back after a three-year hiatus and will hit the Alden Theatre’s stage July 22 to 24 with ‘The Show Must Go On! A Musical Revue.’ The effort features an array of songs from past productions and shows the company hopes to perform in the future.” [Sun Gazette]

Local Hummingbird Photographers Get Focus — “I have been promised hummingbirds. I am, after all, at Green Spring Gardens, in the Alexandria area of Fairfax County, prime hummingbird territory…Jane [Gamble] takes me somewhere we’re guaranteed to find hummingbirds: inside the house, where 46 hummingbird photos hang on the walls.” [The Washington Post]

It’s Tuesday — Rain in the evening. High of 87 and low of 70. Sunrise at 5:55 am and sunset at 8:36 pm. [Weather.gov]

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A shared-use path is in the works for the south side of Post Forest Road in Fair Oaks (via Google Maps)

A spoke in the I-66 parallel trail for cyclists and pedestrians is one step closer to rolling forward.

Fairfax County’s Board of Supervisors agreed yesterday (Tuesday) to support the Virginia Department of Transportation project in Fair Oaks, which will provide a key portion of the new 11-mile trail that’s part of the Transform 66 Outside the Beltway project.

The $9.2 million trail segment will remove existing, on-street bicycle lanes and create a new 10-foot-wide, shared-use path along the southern side of Post Forest Drive and eastern side of Random Hills Road.

“This is a relatively small project but…a really important project in the context of the Multimodal Transit Center that’s under construction,” Braddock District Supervisor James Walkinshaw said yesterday (Tuesday).

There will be a buffer between traffic on the road and the new shared-use path, which will connect to the Monument Drive Commuter Parking Garage and Transit Center. A sidewalk on the northern side of Post Forest Drive will remain.

Other upgrades include new crosswalks, ramp upgrades and pedestrian crosswalk signals at the intersection of West Ox Road and Post Forest Drive, among other changes.

The segment will be part of the I-66 Trail spanning Centreville to Dunn Loring. The trail will connect to the Washington and Old Dominion Trail via Gallows Road as well as the Fairfax County Parkway Trail.

Construction for the Fair Oaks segment could begin in 2025 and end in 2026.

Photo via Google Maps

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New Japanese-inspired store at Fair Oaks Mall offers lifestyle items (courtesy MINISO)

A new store with all items $10 or less has opened at Fair Oaks Mall.

MINISO, a lifestyle product retailer from China, opened a $10 N’ Under store in the mall on April 21. The 3,568-square-foot space sells household goods, cosmetics, food and toys. It’s the second location in Fairfax County and the third in the state overall.

The company opened its first location in the county at Tysons Corner Center in October. It also has a store at Potomac Mills Mall in Woodbridge.

“We are thrilled to open our new store at Fair Oaks Mall, after witnessing Miniso’s enormous popularity among the consumers of Fairfax and Woodbridge, and we want to bring our products, which marry high quality with incredible value, to more consumers,” said Bella Tu, General Manager of Overseas Division at Miniso. “As one of the few variety chain stores at Fair Oaks Mall, MINISO hopes to bring a fun-filled experience of discovery and delight to its shoppers.”

The Japanese-inspired company has more than 5,000 stores around the world. It launched in 2013 under the leadership of Chinese entrepreneur Ye Guofu.

Here’s more from the company’s website on their mission and vision:

“Affordable high quality”, “Joy” and “Lighthearted” are the values at the very heart of the brand. “Affordable high quality” is its permanent goal in terms of product development, as it strives to offer consumers inexpensive and well-designed goods. “Joy” describes customers’ natural response to the open, comfortable shopping experience and fun vibes at MINISO, while “Lighthearted” defines their relaxed and cheerful mood when choosing from the wide range of affordable goods in store.

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Fairfax County Fire and Rescue workers fight an apartment fire in the Fair Oaks area (via FCFRD/Twitter)

Fairfax County firefighters have been working for almost two hours now to extinguish a fire at an apartment in the Fair Oaks area.

Units arrived on the scene in the 4200 block of Mozart Brigade Lane before 11 a.m., the Fairfax County Fire and Rescue Department reported on social media.

Videos show responders battling flames that can be seen on the apartment’s roof. The department said that the bulk of the blaze had been knocked down by 11:37 a.m., but crews were continuing to hit hot spots and checking for any extension of the fire at 12:25 p.m.

FCFRD confirmed that the fire had reached a third alarm, and one firefighter was transported to a hospital for a check-up.

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