Police in Arlington County, Virginia, are warning of a spike in overnight commercial burglaries, saying thieves are smashing into businesses and making off with cash registers and safes.
Overall, there have been 21 reported commercial burglaries since the start of the year, police said in a news release Monday. Fifteen of the incidents have been what police called completed burglaries and the other six were attempted burglaries.
Police said the burglars are targeting “cash-based businesses.”
The county has seen multiple businesses hit on the same night — one night last week saw five reported or attempted burglaries, according to police.
Several of the businesses that have been broken into and ransacked are along a few blocks of Wilson Boulevard, one of the main commercial strips in Arlington.
Based on the similarity of methods used, investigators believe that some of these cases are linked but not all are committed by the same suspects.
There have been similar cases reported in neighboring jurisdictions, such as Fairfax County, and Arlington authorities said they are working with law enforcement to identify suspects.
The burglaries are usually quick smash-and-grab incidents, police said.
During the overnight hours, burglars bust out glass doors or windows and search for cash inside, sometimes even hauling off cash registers and safes if they aren’t bolted down, police said.
“The entire incident takes only minutes and the suspects flee in an awaiting vehicle,” police said.
Police said businesses shouldn’t store money overnight in their establishments or, if they have to, they should store it in a safe anchored to the floor.
Businesses are also advised to keep cash register drawers open to indicate to potential burglars there’s nothing to steal and to post signs that cash and valuables are removed overnight.
Business owners should also make sure their properties have proper lighting and consider installing security cameras with alarms.
Police in neighboring Fairfax County said over the weekend they were investigating a rise in late-night commercial burglaries at minority-owned businesses throughout the county.
If you see suspicious behavior in commercial areas, such as groups gathering outside closed businesses during overnight hours, you should contact the Emergency Communications Center at 703-558-2222. If you see someone entering a business, you should call 911 immediately, police said.
Below is a map showing the location of the recent burglaries in Arlington.