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The following is based on selected Arlington Police Department logs from March 12 through March 18. No arrests were reported.

"Check-washing" update. A recently installed alarm in the Court Street postal boxes went off around 2:30 p.m. Sunday, March 17, leading to a police-car pursuit of a possible getaway car, but no arrest. An alert officer was able to write down the Florida plate number of a white BMW sedan that appeared to be speeding away from in front of the main post office, and to relay a description of the vehicle to a nearby squad car.

The mobile officer attempted to follow the fleeing car down Mass. Ave. toward Arlington Center but lost the trail after the latter made a quick left and vanished in the vicinity of Prescott Street. A plate-number search tagged the BMW as a rental car out of Fort Lauderdale. Unfortunately, security cameras at the main post office provided no leads for positively identifying anyone near the alarm-triggered mailbox. The Court Street boxes were still locked with no keys left in them after the alarm sounded so, as APD spokesman Capt. Richard Flynn noted, there probably would have been insufficient evidence on which to base a criminal charge even if the suspect had been caught.

APD has not disclosed the number or locations of new blue-box alarms. Flynn noted that video surveillance of some boxes has captured images of possible mail-theft suspects, but so far there have been no arrests. Multiple investigations, both local and federal, remain open and active, he said. Two more check-washing fraud reports appeared in this week's log (not included below).

Excerpts from the Arlington Police Department log:

Tuesday, March 12

3:15 p.m. – Neighbor Problem. A Highland Avenue couple visited the police station and exhibited dismay in reporting that a contractor from a construction site adjoining their house had started to dismantle the fence between the two lots and then allegedly became verbally abusive when they tried to get him to stop. Officers advised them that short of assault as technically defined, any such dispute would be considered a civil matter. Returning home, the pair found that the fence had been completely taken down and the pieces stacked neatly on their lawn. Contacting APD again, they were told to take the matter to the town building department (a.k.a., Inspectional Services). Flynn commented that while contractors are doubtless responsible for giving owners proper advance notice, the matter will hinge on where the property line actually lies.

Wednesday, March 13

3:47 p.m. – Accident without Injury. The notorious five-way intersection including Appleton Street and Wollaston Avenue notched yet another crash when two cars -- a Honda driven by a 34-year-old Everett woman and a Volvo sedan driven by a 17-year-old Arlington male -- collided heavily after the Honda driver allegedly ignored a stop sign while entering the intersection travelling westbound on Wollaston. A woman walking her dog told arriving officers that she had witnessed the Honda go directly through the stop sign without slowing down. The Volvo, whose airbag deployed, sustained serious front and side damage; the Honda received lesser damage. Fortunately, neither driver was injured. The woman was issued a failure-to-yield citation.

4:17 p.m. – Civil Matter, Not Criminal. In the second fence issue in as many days between residents and construction contractors, a Marion Circle resident filed a citizen report stating that an overfilled dumpster had rained down large pieces of junk lumber onto her bordering fence, damaging it. As in the previous case, officers referred her to Inspectional Services.

Thursday, March 14

8:24 a.m. – Accident without Injury. The bottleneck coming out of Belmont where Pleasant Street narrows from three lanes to two was the cause of a truck-on-car mutual sideswipe. A 2004 International truck from New York State suffered minor damage while, according to the report, its competitor, a 2002 Subaru driven by a Waltham man, took greater beating to its side. Because police judged both drivers equally negligent, according to accepted APD policy, no citations were issued.

10:50 a.m. – Larceny under $1,200. A school van driver carrying a number of students pulled into the midtown CVS (800 block of Mass. Ave.) to purchase snacks. One of the students subsequently spilled lemonade over his backpack and set it out in the sun, leaning against the van, to dry out. When it was time to go, the student found the backpack no longer there, apparently snatched by a passerby. As the group fanned out in search of the pack, some of them were approached by an “unshaven, disheveled” man who looked to be in his 40s and was further described as mumbling in a way that frightened the kids. Police arrived, initially considering the man a possible suspect, but ultimately had nothing to go on: the only certainty was that the backpack was gone. Police will check CVS security video and look for other videos in the area that may offer a clue.

Friday, March 15

10:01 a.m. – Accident without Injury. In perhaps a replay of the Korean War, one Kia rear-ended another on Concord Turnpike near Pleasant Street. The rear car, a 2018 Kia Forte driven by a woman from Rochester, N.H., allegedly rammed a Kia Sportage conducted by a man from Sioux Falls, S.D. When police arrived and ran the Forte's plates, they discovered that those numbers belonged to a 2017 Lincoln that the woman then explained had been totaled. She went on to say that she had “borrowed” the plates to put on the Kia. When officers asked her whether she knew about the 7-day transfer limit on temporary plates, she said she had known but hadn't had the funds to properly register the newer car. Computer search also disclosed that the woman was delinquent in paying multiple vehicle-related fines. The officers issued her a citation for misuse of plates but not for rear-ending the other Kia.

11:33 a.m. – Neighbor Problem. A Mystic Street apartment dweller visited APD to complain about one of her co-residents’ hijinks. She claimed that this other woman would heap random objects in front of the communal washing machine to block access, and, when the first woman complained, would move the stuff out of the way, but only temporarily -- and would sneakily put it all back during the wash cycle or alternatively might darken the basement hallway by unscrewing all the lightbulbs. After hearing out the first woman, the officers found and spoke to the alleged trick-playing neighbor but discovered that the latter could only mumble something about “a note (someone) had written two years before.” The officers eventually gave up researching the relationship -- but not before firmly suggesting that the two women “stay clear of each other.”

12:55 p.m. – Larceny over $250 by False Pretenses. A Jason Street woman reported to police that she had received a phone call from a male who told her she had just won an $800,000 prize. But there was a catch: To receive the prize money, she would first have to “pay the fees” by purchasing Apple gift cards in the amounts of $200 and $250 and then reading off the codes. The woman went out to a drug store, bought the card, and proceeded to do as he said. Later, realizing she'd been scammed, she decided to contact APD. The officers she spoke with ended up completely agreeing with her deduction: she had indeed been scammed.

March 14, 2024: Police blotter March 5-11: APD arrests Octogenarian on suspicion of drunken driving

This column by YourArlington volunteer writer Chris Wilbur was published Thursday, March 21, 2024, based on information from Arlington Police Department daily logs, explanations from Capt. Richard Flynn of the APD and YourArlington's files.