Vienna police car (via Vienna Police Department/Facebook)

The Independence Day fireworks that lit up the evening sky over Yeonas Park weren’t the only source of smoke in Vienna this past Saturday (July 4).

Early that morning, burglars snatched some vaping cartridges, cigarettes, and cash boxes from Tobacco & Vape King in Jades Shopping Center at 332 Maple Avenue West, according to the Vienna Police Department’s crime recap for the week of July 2-8.

The incident occurred at 4:04 a.m., and when officers responded to the report of a burglary at the business, they found that the front glass door had been smashed.

“The persons involved had already fled the scene,” the police report says.

The missing items were reported by a store employee.

Evidently, the suspects had first attempted to break into House of Vape at 141 Church Street NW, based on security footage from just two minutes earlier:

Due to a burglary that had just occurred at a similar business in town, officers responded to check the House of Vape. They found someone smashed one of the double-paned windows to the business, but were unable to gain entry to the store. Security video shows the incident occurred just a few minutes before the burglary at Tobacco & Vape King.

Other highlights from the past week include a dispute between neighbors in the 200 block of Church Street over two trees that one resident planted along their shared property line. The resident reported on July 1 that his neighbor had cut down one of the trees.

Vienna police officers also took down a report on Thursday (July 8) from a resident who said that, while walking around Ware Street and Kingsley Road SW the previous night, she and her husband saw an older man in a parked vehicle with another person and “thought their behavior was suspicious.”

As part of its weekly report, the Vienna Police Department is also asking community members to lock up their houses and vehicles amid a regional investigation into a rash of vehicle tampering and theft incidents.

Fairfax County Police Department Capt. Dalton Becker, the station commander for the McLean District, which has seen the majority of Fairfax County incidents, said at a “State of the McLean District Station” virtual meeting last night that the car theft ring appears to have filtered into the county from Arlington and Maryland.

Vienna police are advising residents to lock their car doors, remove any valuable items and keys, and report “suspicious activity.”

“The Town of Vienna Police Department is dedicated to the safety and protection of all persons and property in the Town of Vienna,” the VPD said in a media release. “However, much of our success comes from the assistance of its concerned and observant residents.”

Photo via Vienna Police Department/Facebook

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Morning Notes

Verse condos reflected in The Boro office building with U.S. and Virginia flags (photo by John Colby)

Former Mosby Woods ES Cements New Moniker — The Fairfax school formerly known as Mosby Woods Elementary School officially became Mosaic Elementary School yesterday (Thursday), unveiling a new logo and website. The Fairfax County School Board approved the new name in February to replace Confederate Colonel John S. Mosby as the school’s namesake. [Mosaic ES/Twitter]

Metro Police Didn’t Investigate Thousands of Crime Reports — “Metro police didn’t follow through with more than 3,000 complaints filed between 2010 and 2017, the report from the Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority Office of Inspector General says. They included a variety of felony and misdemeanor offenses such as armed robberies, sexual offenses, kidnappings, assaults and other crimes.” [NBC4]

County Rec Centers Introduce “Pay-As-You-Go” Option — Rec Center users can now pay on a month-to-month basis for membership to the nine facilities, including the Providence center in Falls Church and Spring Hill center in McLean. The Park Authority says this has been a longstanding request from customers, especially younger people on a tighter budget. [Fairfax County Park Authority]

Vehicle Thefts on the Rise, Vienna Police Warn — Northern Virginia has seen increased vehicle tampering incidents and thefts, in some cases involving suspects entering unlocked homes or opening garage doors to steal property and car keys. The Vienna Police Department advises residents to “stay vigilant” and lock all doors and garages. [Vienna Police/Twitter]

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(Updated at 10:05 a.m.) A tennis instructor employed at George Mason High School in Falls Church has been arrested for allegedly having illegal sexual contact with a student.

The Fairfax County Police Department announced this morning (Tuesday) that 29-year-old Rafael “Rally” Diokno faces three charges of taking indecent liberties with a child by a custodian, a Class 6 felony that carries potential sentences of up to five years in prison or a 12-month jail term with a fine of up to $2,500.

Here is more on the investigation from the police report:

Our detectives began their investigation on June 16, after it was learned that Rafael “Rally” Diokno, of Falls Church, was having unlawful sexual contact with a student. Diokno was a seasonal contract employee with the Falls Church City Public Schools. Detectives determined the unlawful conduct began in May of this year and the acts occurred at different locations within the confines of Fairfax County. Yesterday, detectives from our Major Crimes Bureau Child Abuse Squad arrested Diokno, and he is currently being held at the County’s Adult Detention Center without bond.

Falls Church City Public Schools says that it first hired Diokno as a seasonal tennis coach in February 2016. He was terminated from the position on June 4.

FCCPS said in a statement that it is committed to supporting the student, while remaining aware of the possibility that additional victims may come forward:

FCCPS is committed to supporting the student and family involved and all of its students and staff members. At the same time, we want to ensure and respect the privacy of those involved. As the police and CPS investigation continues, we must be alert to the possibility of additional potential victims. It is crucial that individuals feel comfortable and supported in coming forward if they have additional information or concerns.

According to FCCPS, school officials contacted the City of Falls Church Police Department and Child Protective Services on June 3 “immediately after receiving an allegation of potentially inappropriate conduct by a coach toward a student athlete.”

“As a result, the coach was immediately relieved of his coaching duties,” FCCPS said. “This action enabled FCCPS to ensure the safety of its students while completing its investigation…The former coach no longer had access to the school or its students at the time of and leading up to the arrest.”

Since it is an ongoing criminal investigation, FCCPS says it will not comment further on the specifics of the case or on personnel matters beyond noting that, while Diokno was not a member of its instructional staff, the school system followed its standard procedures when hiring him, including fingerprinting and background checks.

“Falls Church City Public Schools has been fully cooperating with the Police and CPS during the investigation before the arrest and will continue to do so as their investigations continue,” FCCPS said.

The FCPD is asking anyone with information about the case or who may have had inappropriate contact with Diokno to contact its detectives at 703-246-7800, option 3, or by submitting an anonymous tip through Crime Solvers.

“Victim specialists from our Major Crimes Bureau’s Victim Services Division have been assigned to ensure that the victim is receiving appropriate resources and assistance,” the FCPD said.

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Outside the Fairfax County Courthouse (via Google Maps)

A civil engineer for the Fairfax County government has been accused of soliciting sex from an underage boy online.

Francesco Lauretti, 46, of Vienna, was allegedly caught in a sting operation for a felony charge regarding computer solicitation. Police say he proposed sex with a minor under 15 years of age and was arrested March 30, about a week after the alleged offense.

Following an arraignment on March 31, the Fairfax County General District Court held a preliminary hearing last Wednesday (June 16) and moved the case to the county’s circuit court for a grand jury to determine if there is probable cause.

Lauretti has been on paid administrative leave from his job with the Fairfax County Department of Transportation since March 31 “pending the outcome of an ongoing internal investigation,” according to the county.

An attorney for Lauretti argued that he should be released without a bail stipulation that required him to not use the internet, a restriction that can be imposed on other defendants.

The attorney said in a court filing that Lauretti has been seeing telehealth providers virtually due to the COVID-19 pandemic and an internet ban would also result in the defendant’s imminent unemployment.

His current attorney, Michael Sprano, said he did not have any comments to make presently.

The charge is a Class 5 felony that involves using a communications system or other electronic means to solicit “with lascivious intent” a person that the accused knew or had reason to believe was a child less than 15. If the offender is more than 7 years older than the child, as in this case, a conviction carries a minimum prison sentence of five years.

According to a court document filed earlier this year, Lauretti has a wife and kids.

Photo via Google Maps

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Morning Notes

McLean Resident Killed in Hit-and-Run — 43-year-old Allen Romero died on Sunday (May 16) after being hit by a 2011-2015 Ford Fusion while crossing eastbound Leesburg Pike just before the Redberry Court intersection in Great Falls. Officers responded to the scene around 5:21 a.m. and are now looking for witnesses. This is Fairfax County’s fifth pedestrian fatality so far in 2021. [FCPD]

Man Stabbed in Tysons Galleria Area — A man was taken to the hospital with non-life-threatening injuries after being stabbed during an argument in the 1700 block of International Drive around 7:56 p.m. on May 7, police say. 40-year-old Atef Shaker-Armanuos of Falls Church was arrested and charged with malicious wounding. [FCPD]

Hearing Scheduled in Bijan Ghaisar Case — “A federal judge in Alexandria on Friday set Aug. 23 as the date for a hearing on whether manslaughter charges against two U.S. Park Police officers, for the 2017 fatal shooting of Bijan Ghaisar, should be dismissed. A Fairfax County prosecutor told the judge the hearing could last five days.” [The Washington Post]

Live Music Returns to The Boro — “Get your dancing shoes ready — live music is back at #TheBoroTysons! Plan an alfresco evening complete with free music from local performers every Thursday, 5:30pm-8pm this summer, starting on June 3rd.” [The Boro/Twitter]

New Soccer Field Opens on Graham Road — Fairfax County officials, including Providence District Supervisor Dalia Palchik and School Board Representative Karl Frisch, held a ribbon-cutting ceremony on Saturday (May 15) for a new soccer field at the Graham Road Community Building in Falls Church. [Rachna Sizemore Heizer/Twitter]

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Morning Notes

Vienna Resident Pleads Guilty to Money Laundering — A Vienna resident pleaded guilty in federal court on Monday to a money laundering scheme tied to the terrorist group Hizballah. Prosecutors say the decade-long scheme was deployed to ship electronics equipment to a television station in Lebanon. [Patch]

Spring Hill Turf Field to Be Replaced — Spring Hill Park in McLean will undergo maintenance work starting on June 21 to replace a synthetic turf field. Work hours will be limited to 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. on weekdays, though the contractor can work on Saturdays to avoid project delays if there is inclement weather. The project is expected to be mostly complete by Labor Day. [Fairfax County Park Authority]

Maryland to Downscale Beltway Project — The Maryland Department of Transportation will limit its planned Capital Beltway expansion to the construction of a new American Legion Bridge and the addition of two toll lanes in each direction on the bridge from I-270 to I-370. The project is considered critical to the success of Virginia’s 495 NEXT project to extend the I-495 Express Lanes to the bridge in McLean. [DCist]

Longfellow Finishes Second in National Quiz Bowl — “A quiz-bowl team from Longfellow Middle School finished second in the nation in the 2021 Middle School National Championship Tournament, held online the weekend of May 1. Longfellow’s “A” team made it 20 rounds into the competition before losing to the eventual champion, the “A” team from Winston Churchill Middle School of Carmichael, Calif.” [Sun Gazette/Inside NoVA]

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A girl reported that she was harassed and followed by an older man outside the Dunkin Donuts at 314 Maple Avenue West on March 17, the Vienna Police Department says in its round-up of highlights from the week of March 19-25.

According to the report, the incident occurred at 3:15 p.m. when the “female juvenile reported that she was harassed by an older man in the Dunkin Donuts’ parking lot.”

“When the juvenile observed that the man appeared to be waiting for her to exit the store, she requested an employee escort her to her vehicle,” the VPD said. “As the juvenile drove away, the man appeared to follow her for several blocks.”

The report classifies the incident as a “suspicious event.”

This past week also saw Vienna police officers respond to a reported assault at Chick-fil-A (538 Maple Avenue West) at 1:45 p.m. yesterday (Thursday).

The weekly highlights report describes the incident as follows:

An employee reported that a woman parked her vehicle in the drive-thru line, walked into the restaurant, and began acting disorderly. When the employee asked her to leave, she crawled out the drive-thru window, kicking the manager, and throwing food at a customer. The woman got back into her vehicle, drove onto Maple Avenue, parked her car on the roadway, and began trying to climb into a delivery truck that was stopped in traffic. The woman got back into her vehicle and fled the area before officers arrived.

In a particularly oddball occurrence, a resident on the 600 block of Hine Street SE told the VPD at 2:59 p.m. on Tuesday (March 23) “that he had a cannonball that he wanted to dispose of.”

“The resident found the cannonball while gardening in his yard several years ago,” the police report says.

Vienna officers were accompanied by an explosive ordinance disposal team from the Fairfax County Police Department when they responded to the request. The cannonball was handed off to the county team for destruction.

Image via Google Maps

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A 27-year-old man has been arrested for allegedly sexually assaulting a woman at the Tysons West shopping mall earlier this month, the Fairfax County Police Department announced today (Tuesday).

According to the police report, the assault occurred around 4 p.m. on March 3 and was reported to the police on March 4 when officers were called to the 1500 block of Cornerside Boulevard in Tysons.

The FCPD says that the woman was sitting on a bench near the shopping center when “an unknown man approached her, engaged her in conversation then sexually assaulted her.”

“The woman screamed and was able to leave,” the police report says. “As she walked away, the man continued to follow her. A bystander saw the man following her and escorted her inside a business.”

The man was spotted in the area again on March 12, and responding officers took him into custody. Police have identified the individual as Mohamed Souidi and says he has no fixed address.

Souidi has been charged with object sexual penetration and abduction. He is being held at the Fairfax County Adult Detention Center without bond.

The FCPD says detectives with its major crimes bureau are continuing to investigate the case and are looking for potential witnesses.

“Considering the time and location of the assault, detectives believe there may have been people in the area who unknowingly witnessed this crime,” the department said.

Information can be shared with the investigating detectives by calling 703-246-7800, option 3, or submitting an anonymous tip through the FCPD’s Crime Solvers phone line (1-866-411-TIPS), app, and website.

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A Bed Bath & Beyond in Tysons was robbed last week, Fairfax County police said this afternoon (Friday).

According to the Fairfax County Police Department’s latest weekly recap, someone forced their way into the store at 2051 Chain Bridge Road around 5:58 a.m. on Feb. 19. The person then “took property and ran away.”

The FCPD also reported today that they had arrested two suspects in a robbery that occurred around 8:23 p.m. on Wednesday (Feb. 24) at the intersection of Robert Lane and Monticello Drive in the West Falls Church area.

Here is the full summary of the incident:

A man walking home was approached by two juveniles who displayed a firearm, stole his personal property and left the area. No injuries were reported. The suspects were found by officers nearby and taken into custody after a foot pursuit. Charges for the juveniles are pending.

Photo via Google Maps

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A Door Dash driver’s vehicle was stolen when he stopped at Wawa to pick up a delivery last week, the Vienna Police Department says in its latest round-up of notable criminal and suspicious incidents around town.

The driver told police that, around 12:35 a.m. on Feb. 4, he left his vehicle running in the Wawa parking lot at 465 Maple Ave. W while going inside to pick up a food order. While he was inside the convenience store, someone stole the vehicle.

The citizen waited “several minutes” before calling to report the incident, according to the police report.

Vienna police alerted surrounding jurisdictions to look out for the missing vehicle. Fairfax County police officers soon located the vehicle at Chain Bridge Road and Glengyle Drive just outside the Town of Vienna. The vehicle was unoccupied and still running.

“The citizen reported that a Play Station 4, a keyboard, and marijuana were missing from the vehicle,” the VPD report said. “The citizen did not wish to pursue charges and did not wish further investigation on the incident.”

More recently, Vienna police responded to a Feb. 9 report of an alarm going off around 9:23 p.m. at the CVS at 264 Cedar Lane SE.

Officers did not find anyone or notice anything suspicious when searching the store, but the alarm company said that surveillance cameras had captured video showing someone inside. The footage suggested that the last employee at the CVS had “closed and secured the store without realizing there was a customer inside.”

“The customer, who was observed on the camera, approached the register to make their purchase, realized there were no employees in the store, left the items they were going to purchase, and left the store,” the police report said.

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