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Rash of Armed Robberies in Hybla Valley

<hd>Rash of Armed Robberies in Hybla Valley

<bt>Between Friday, Aug. 24 and Sunday, Aug. 26, four armed robberies, which police said may or may not be connected, were committed in the Meadow Woods neighborhood of Hybla Valley, and another was committed on the nearby Arlington Drive on Thursday, Aug. 23.

An armed robbery at a Blockbuster on North Kings Highway, also committed on Aug. 23, appears to be unrelated.

One arrest was made on Aug. 24, when a man from a northern Alexandria address that is miles from the neighborhood, was charged with a robbery committed in Meadow Woods that evening.

Descriptions of the perpetrators varied widely, but Fairfax County Police spokesperson Camille Neville noted that a couple of the descriptions were similar, "so detectives are looking into that to see if they might be the same suspect." Neville also said victims’ descriptions are often inaccurate, due to poor lighting and fear. "You can’t just link or not link one robbery to another, based on initial information," she said.

On Thursday, Aug. 23 a Pizza Hut delivery driver was leaving a building on the 2700 block of Arlington Drive at about 8:15 p.m., after making a delivery. A man approached the driver, displayed a handgun and demanded money, according to a police release. The victim handed over an undisclosed amount of cash. The perpetrator was described as thin, black, in his late teens and about 5 feet 8 inches tall. He wore black pants and black glasses and wore his hair in inch-long braids.

At about 8:45 p.m. on Friday, Aug. 24, a 23-year-old Alexandria-area woman was walking in front of a building on the 3500 block of Robert E. Lee Place, around the Meadow Woods neighborhood, when a man approached her, displayed a handgun in his waistband and demanded money, said police. The woman complied, and the man fled in a waiting car.

Police located the car and arrested 24-year-old Merton Thomas of the 1400 block of North Beauregard St. in northern Alexandria. Thomas was charged with robbery and the use of a firearm in the commission of a felony and was taken to the Fairfax County Adult Detention Center.

The next day, two more robberies were attempted in the Meadow Woods area, although only one succeeded. In the early hours of Aug. 25, at about 2:45 a.m., a 65-year-old man parked his car near his residence on the 7300 block of Jon Paul Drive, according to another police release. He got out of the car carrying a bag, and a man approached him, pointed a handgun at him and demanded money. The victim refused and tried to hit the man with his bag. The perpetrator fled, and the victim was not injured.

The attempted robber was described as black, 15 to 20 years old, about 5 feet 5 inches tall and weighing approximately 120 pounds. He wore a blue shirt and dark-colored pants and had his hair in cornrows.

At about 9:15 in the evening of Saturday, Aug. 25, a robbery was successfully committed, also on Jon Paul Drive. A 50-year-old Alexandria-man was delivering a pizza to the 7200 block of the street, and, as he was on his way out of the building, a man entered the building and struck the delivery man on the head with a handgun, said police. The victim fell, and the robber took his money and fled on foot. The victim was taken to Inova Mount Vernon Hospital with non life-threatening injuries.

The perpetrator was described as black, about 25 years old, approximately 5 feet 7 inches tall and weighing about 170 pounds. He had medium-length hair and wore a black T-shirt.

The next day, a robbery was attempted on the 3400 block of Julep Drive, just yards from Jon Paul Drive. A 45-year-old man was walking to his apartment with groceries when he heard someone behind him, said police. A man’s voice demanded that he hand over his backpack, and the victim felt something hard against his back. He turned to see a man holding what appeared to be a handgun. The victim dropped his grocery bags and ran, and nothing else was taken. The robber was described as black, about 6 feet 1 inch tall, weighing about 156 pounds and of an unknown age. He wore a dark windbreaker with a light-colored hoodie and a dark-colored bandana pulled over his nose and mouth.

Neville said the neighborhood is densely populated and heavily traveled by foot traffic, as it is made up of apartment buildings. Noting that she used to patrol the area, she said it was a neighborhood where police officers frequently made rounds and received calls. However, said Neville, thoroughly patrolling the neighborhood can be problematic, as vehicle access and parking are limited. She also noted that robberies are more common on weekends and during the summer.

Anyone with information regarding any of these crimes is asked to call Crime Solvers at 1-866-411-TIPS (8477) or Fairfax County Police at 703-691-2131.

— Mike DiCicco