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Franklin Farm Gets Hit

16 vehicles vandalized; items stolen from 16 others.

The Franklin Farm community has recently been struck with a large amount of vehicle tamperings and larcenies from vehicles. Over three occasions, this spring, a total of 16 vehicles were vandalized — and items were stolen from 16 others.

AND POLICE from the Fair Oaks District Station are alerting residents to lock their car doors, remove their valuables and immediately report any crimes or suspicious activities.

"Maybe somebody saw or heard something, but hasn't called in," said Pfc. Liz Barrington, Crime Prevention Officer with the Fair Oaks District Station. "We're urging them to do so. Just be observant; let us know."

Because several of the incidents occurred in close proximity to each other, date and timewise, and similar things were taken, she said they "definitely seem to be correlated, but we can't say it's the same person [or persons]."

The first series happened between Tuesday, April 26, at 11 p.m. and Wednesday, April 27, at 8 a.m. There appeared to be no damage to the vehicles, and police say many of them had been left unlocked.

"Items that were taken ranged from change in the console area or glove box to cell phones, a BlackBerry and even a jacket," said Barrington. Mainly stolen, she said, were "small things that can be gotten rid of really quickly or that could be used [by the thieves] for themselves, such as coins, a laptop [computer] and an iPod."

Six incidents of thefts from vehicles were reported in the first wave. "In many of the reports, the items in the vehicle were scattered about or ransacked," said Barrington. The streets targeted were Rounding Run Court, Brynwood Place and Wrenn House Court.

THE SECOND series of vehicle tamperings and larcenies occurred between Tuesday, May 3, at 11 p.m. and Wednesday, May 4, at 8 a.m. Again, the vehicles didn't appear to have sustained any damage, but items from within them were pilfered. And as in the previous incidents, said Barrington, "In several of the reports, the vehicles were left unlocked or the owner was not sure."

She said the items taken ranged from loose change to sunglasses, CDs and other miscellaneous things. And papers and items from the glove box or other areas of these vehicles were scattered. Ten incidents were reported, and the streets targeted this time were: Bramblewood Lane, Nestlewood Drive, Grey Friars Place, Ashburton Avenue, Harrison Hollow Lane, Brynwood Place and Wheeler Way.

"You can tell professional and you can tell a whim — an opportunity," said Barrington. "But we don't know for sure [whether pros or amateur thieves did these deeds]. It just seems like it was an act where there wasn't a lot of thought. The majority of these vehicles were unlocked cars."

The third series of incidents occurred between Saturday, May 14 at 11 p.m. and Sunday, May 15 at 8:30 a.m. This time, the crimes involved vandalism, vehicle tamperings and graffiti. "There were 16 vehicles spray painted with blue paint, in most of the reports," said Barrington. "It was the driver's side of the vehicle that was targeted."

But that's not all. Spray painted as well were a stop sign, garage doors, driveways and signs on a community tot lot and tennis court. Police received five reports, in all, of things besides cars that were hit with blue paint, for a total of 21 incidents altogether.

Streets targeted during this rash of vandalism were: Applegrove Lane, Bittersweet Court, Laneview Place, Turberville Lane, Franklin Farm Road, Nestlewood Drive, Cross Creek Lane, Tuckaway Drive, Brynwood Place and Bramblewood Lane.

In the past, Barrington had already sent out information to Neighborhood Watch coordinators, homeowners associations and interested citizens and businesses, stressing the importance of people locking their car doors. But this recent wave of thefts from vehicles prompted her to do so again.

"REMOVE ITEMS of value from the car, to include the change in the console or ashtray," she told them. "If it is something you do not want to remove, then place it out of sight." Taking these simple precautions, she said, might be just enough to make a would-be thief move on.

"A criminal is looking for opportunity," said Barrington. "If you remove the opportunity, then you have less of a chance that you will be a victim. Also, take the time to report things to the police. If you hear noises at night, get up and look out. If you see someone or something that just does not seem to fit — or your instincts are telling you something does not seem right — please call in and report this suspicious person or activity."

Furthermore, she advised, "Do not assume someone else in the community will report it. We would much rather have several calls than none." The police non-emergency number is 703-691-2131.

Barrington urges anyone with any information that could help solve these incidents in Franklin Farm to contact police. She also encourages residents living within that community to consider getting involved in the Neighborhood Watch program.

"The goal of Neighborhood Watch is to observe and report — to be the eyes and ears of the police department," she said. "It does not take a lot of time to volunteer, [and] basically, you do neighborhood watch every day [while] you drive in or out of your community. When you look around, you're being observant. Help your community and yourself from becoming the next victim."

For information about starting a Neighborhood Watch, contact Barrington at 703-352-2163 or at liz.barrington@fairfaxcounty.gov.