Around F.C., News

News Briefs: October 6 – October 12

Coordinated Thefts on the Rise
in Falls Church Area

For the past few months, the City of Falls Church has seen an increase in thefts around the area leading to a special announcement from City Hall this week.
According to Falls Church police, the latest spate of thefts have happened at or around the Eden Center, specifically 6751-6799 Wilson Boulevard. Falls Church City police have said plenty about the common features reported by victims of these crimes.
The criminal suspects start by approaching victims in ways like trying to sell fake jewelry, asking for directions, asking to pray with them or asking for a hug. When the suspects are close enough, they place fake jewelry on the victims while taking the real victims’ jewelry.
Falls Church City Chief of Police Mary Gavin told the News-Press that most of these thefts have been committed by people who are surveilling potential victims at shopping centers and local businesses.
Gavin said these people are a “coordinated group” that are watching people and “taking an opportunity” to catch them off-guard while talking to them “very closely and directly and confusing them.”
“The next thing you know [is] that they’re taking [the victim’s] jewelry off their neck,” Gavin said.
The suspects often flee the scene by vehicle, while victims sometimes do not realize their jewelry has been stolen until the suspects leave.
The suspects are described as a “Middle-Eastern man with one or two Middle Eastern women driving newer Mercedes SUVs.”
Recent incidents have included a larceny at Roosevelt Boulevard on September 25, where two females distracted a male victim while substituting fake jewelry for real jewelry.
Two incidents at Wilson Boulevard on July 25th and September 30th followed the same incident with two suspects distracting a victim with conversation while substituting their real jewelry for fake jewelry.
When one is approached by an unfamiliar person, Gavin advised people need to be “leery” of the distance between that person and a possible suspect, as well as being “direct” with someone who gets “too close.”
In terms of valuables, Gavin said people should be “very careful and discreet” about their jewelry and other possessions by hiding them in non-obvious places. Locking doors to both cars and houses is also a way to prevent a potential theft from happening, as well as traveling in pairs to reduce the risk of someone stealing from or harassing a potential victim.

Beyer Committee Finds Link of Anti-Abortion/Poor Economies

The U.S. Congress Joint Economic Committee (JEC)—led by Chairman Don Beyer of Falls Church—released a new analysis that finds states with the most restrictive abortion laws have worse economic conditions for families.
Following the Supreme Court’s decision to overturn nearly 50-years of precedent that guaranteed the right to safe and legal abortion, states have enacted laws to restrict access to reproductive freedom. In those states that have either completely banned or severely restricted abortion, women will be constrained from making decisions that are right for them, their families and their financial security. The ability to decide if and when to have a child is not only an issue of bodily autonomy and individual agency, it also has far-reaching economic consequences for the people directly impacted, their families and their communities.
Data show that the states that more severely restrict access to abortion also do not have policies to support economic resilience or positive health and educational outcomes for families.
In states with more restrictive abortion laws: Women have lower median earnings, Child poverty rates are higher, Health insurance for the neediest families is harder to access, Paid family leave does not exist, Spending on K-12 education is low.

Transportation Group Gets Report on Reduced Vehicle Use

Members of the Northern Virginia Transportation Commission will hear at their meeting tonight how NVTC’s Commuter Choice program has reduced vehicle miles traveled, shortened travel times and lowered greenhouse gas emissions since its inception five years ago.
NVTC’s Commuter Choice team will report on the results of the first five years of the innovative program to fund traffic congestion relief efforts in Northern Virginia. Commuter Choice uses toll money from the I-66 and I-395/95 corridors to support alternatives to people driving alone. Since the program began in 2017, Commuter Choice has funded $92.7 million in projects that supported a total of 3.5 million trips in the I-66 and I-395/95 corridors, amounting to 82 million fewer vehicle miles traveled, saved commuters 900,000 hours of travel time, commensurate to $24 million in economic benefits to the region, saved commuters $12 million in fuel costs and reducing greenhouse gas emissions by 69% relative to driving alone for comparable trips, and avoided 100 automobile crashes.
The findings are part of the Commuter Choice 2022 Annual Report. Commissioners will be asked to approve the report and authorize staff to deliver it to the Virginia Commonwealth Transportation Board.