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Police: Four fondling cases might be linked

Fairfax County police are looking into whether the reported grabbing and fondling of 15-year-old girl is related to several similar incidents in the Springfield area throughout September.

The girl told police she was grabbed from behind and fondled around 7:15 p.m. Tuesday in the 6200 block of Hibbling Avenue in Springfield.

According to police, the girl was walking northbound on Hibbling Avenue near Exmore Street when the incident occurred. After she allegedly was grabbed, police said she pulled away from the suspect and fled. Police are investigating whether or not this assault might be linked to three other similar incidents.

A 17-year-old girl was grabbed from behind and fondled around 9 a.m. Sept. 27 in the 5900 block of Erving Street. Police said the woman was walking on the sidewalk when the assault occurred.

Police said the woman described the suspect as either Asian or Hispanic, in his mid-30s, around 5 feet, 8 inches tall with a black, close-cut beard. He wore a blue T-shirt, black cotton sweatpants with a white stripe on each side and a red baseball cap.

Police think this assault might be linked to two other incidents. In each of those, police said the suspect wore a plain, red baseball cap.

On Sept. 18, police said a 16-year-old student was walking on a path in the 6700 block of Metropolitan Center Drive in Springfield around 2:45 p.m. when she was grabbed. The suspect allegedly fondled her and ran away. The suspect in that incident was described as a Hispanic male with a thin, black goatee or beard. He wore a red baseball cap, blue jeans and a white T-shirt.

On Sept. 7, a 26-year-old woman was walking in the area of Old Keene Mill Road and Springfield Boulevard around 8:30 a.m. when she heard a whistle. When she reached the 7200 block of Monticello Boulevard, a man allegedly grabbed her from behind and fondled her. The man then fled.

Police said the woman described that suspect as Hispanic, about 5 feet, 6 inches tall and wearing a red baseball cap. Police said none of the victims required medical attention.

Police search for office thief

County police say someone posing as a maintenance man has been stealing purses and wallets from doctors’ offices throughout the McLean and Falls Church areas.

Cancer patients, rehabilitation patients and office employees have been victimized by the thief who has struck at least seven times since late June, according to police.

The most recent report was Sept. 20 in the 8000 block of Arlington Boulevard. Police said the victim had placed his belongings into a cubby while he received physical therapy. When he returned, his wallet was gone.

Police said a man was reportedly seen walking around, looking at vents and acting as though he was on a maintenance call, and police think this person might be linked to the other cases in the area.

Police think the suspect has been using the stolen credit cards at gas stations in the Washington, D.C., area. According to police, four larcenies have occurred in the 8000 block of Arlington Boulevard and three were in the 8000 block of Leesburg Pike.

Anyone with information is asked to contact Detective Manes at 703-246-7800 or call county police at 703-691-2131.

School bus involved in collision

A Fairfax County Public Schools bus on its way to Annandale High School was involved in an accident early Wednesday. No students were injured.

According to county police, the collision occurred shortly before 7 a.m. on Little River Turnpike and Medford Drive when the bus struck a van.

According to police, an occupant in the van suffered non-life-threatening injuries and was taken to a local hospital. Annandale High School Principal Vincent Randazzo sent out an email reporting no students were injured in the crash, but one reported having a headache.

The accident caused some traffic delay, and is under investigation, according to police.

Juveniles charged with alcohol, marijuana offenses

Around 8:30 p.m. Sept. 29, county police officers on patrol in the 5900 Kingstowne Towne Center area observed a young man vomiting in the parking garage and stopped to check on him. The 16-year-old Springfield area boy was transported to the hospital for medical attention because of alcohol intoxication. He was treated and later released.

Police said three other boys, two 15 year olds and one 16 year old, also were determined to be under the influence and were charged with underage possession of alcohol. One was charged with possession of marijuana.

Cocaine seizure in at Dulles airport

U.S. Customs and Border Protection on Sept. 29 intercepted a cocaine courier from Guatemala at Washington Dulles International Airport, recording the fourth cocaine seizure in a month.

The courier, who CBP officials did not name, was found carrying cocaine inside the false lining of two white jars after arriving on a flight just before 3 p.m.

The combined weight of the jars and the cocaine, which hasn’t been extracted, measured about 583 grams, or a little more than 1 pound, 4 ounces, according to officials.

After interviews, officers released the man to return home to Guatemala. He was barred from returning to the U.S. for at least five years.

“I’m hopeful that these recent seizures send a loud and clear message to the bad guys that using business couriers to import their deadly poison into the U.S. is a failed proposition,” Christopher Hess, CBP port director for the Port of Washington, D.C., said in a statement. “Customs and Border Protection remains resolute to stopping illicit narcotics at our nation’s borders before it can reach our neighborhoods.”

The incident marked the third consecutive weekend that CBP officers seized cocaine that was concealed within products in courier packages.

On Sept. 15, CBP officers discovered cocaine hidden inside a false second lining of seven plastic containers that two Guatemalan couriers brought to Dulles. The combined weight of plastic jars and cocaine measured about 5.7 kilograms, or 12 pounds, 10 ounces.

On Sept. 22, CBP officers discovered cocaine inside two hard brown bricks labeled as “Dulce de Panela” which is a molasses-like, brown candy made of unrefined sugar, and in five packages of “Hilachas,” a beef soup in another courier’s packages. The total weight of the cocaine measured 2.6 kilograms, or 5 pounds, 13 ounces.

These men also were returned to Guatemala and barred for a minimum of five years.

During fiscal 2011, which spanned Oct. 1, 2010, through Sept. 30, 2011, CBP officers at Dulles intercepted a little more than 50 pounds of cocaine in seven seizures.

Pparking attendant pleads guilty to theft

One of three Udvar-Hazy Center parking lot attendants accused of stealing at least $400,000 in fees pleaded guilty Sept. 28 in federal court.

Meseret Terefe, 36, of Silver Spring, Md., was arrested on Aug. 4. He pleaded guilty to theft of public money.

He faces a maximum of 10 years in prison when he is sentenced Dec. 14.

Freweyni Mebrahtu, 45, of Sterling and Genete Yigzu, 46, of Alexandria also are charged in the case.

“Mr. Terefe admitted today to stealing hundreds of thousands of dollars from one of America’s most revered institutions,” said U.S. Attorney Neil H. MacBride in a statement. “Especially during a time of challenging budgets, this fraud is extremely troubling.”

In his plea agreement, Terefe admitted to stealing parking fees in late 2009 by either unplugging electronic vehicle counters or by not handing customers serialized parking tickets after they paid their entrance fees.

Officials said the scheme went on for nearly three years.

Terefe worked as an employee of Parking Management Inc., the company contracted by the Chantilly museum to manage the collection of parking fees.

The parking lot at the Udvar-Hazy Center, the annex location of the Smithsonian Air & Space Museum, has space for about 2,000 cars. The museum is home to the Space Shuttle Discovery and other historic aircraft.

By unplugging the electronic vehicle counter or failing to give customers parking tickets, authorities said Terefe was able to under report the true number of vehicles entering the facility. He and other booth attendants discussed tactics for stealing parking revenues, and Terefe said that one of his managers demanded he pay him half of the stolen proceeds to continue his criminal activity.

Terefe, according to the U.S. Attorney’s Office, stole between $1,800 and nearly $4,500 during a daily shift working at the center. The three-year loss to the Smithsonian attributable to Terefe is at least $400,000.

Authorities said Terefe stored a portion of the stolen money at his home in Silver Spring, and used some of the proceeds to purchase an interest in commercial property in Ethiopia.

The investigation was initiated by the Smithsonian Office of the Inspector General and jointly investigated by the FBI’s Washington Field Office. Assistant U.S. Attorney Jasmine Yoon and Special Assistant U.S. Attorney James McDonald are prosecuting the case.

Police warn motorists of deer rutting season

County police are warning motorists that deer are especially active during the months of October and November —known as rutting season — and warn that drivers can expect to have increased potential encounters with deer.

According to police, as of July, there have been 59 non-reportable, deer-related vehicle crashes in Fairfax County. There also have been 31 reportable (damage exceeding $1,500) collisions involving animals, predominantly deer, as of mid-September.

Police caution motorists to stay alert for deer in the roadways, and learn more about deer to decrease their chances of a deer-related vehicle crash.

Police advise motorists to never swerve to avoid deer on the road. Swerving can cause loss of control of a vehicle and greatly increase chances of more serious damage or injury.

Police say to instead take your foot off the brake at time of impact. This action reduces the likelihood of deer crashing through a windshield upon impact.

If the animal is injured or killed, report the collision through the county police’s non-emergency line at 703-691-2131.