Time will tell whether a pair of arrests will put an end to a three-week rash of gaming machine thefts in the D.C. metro area. But, on Wednesday, Fairfax County police officers announced a possible break in the case.
Detectives think two Maryland men — 59-year-old driver Leonard Jones and 35-year-old passenger Terrell Hardy — had roles in the Virginia gaming machine grabs. They were taken into custody for a pair of theft attempts on Tuesday, Jan. 24.
In many cases, the 7-Eleven clerks in Fairfax County, Virginia, could only look on.
Sometimes the men who entered their stores would pry open Virginia’s ATM-sized gaming machines on the spot. Other times, they’d just load the machine onto a truck and leave the scene.
Maryland men charged with gaming machine theft
Altogether, surveillance cameras and store employees confirmed six previous crimes at 7-Eleven stores in the region:
- Thursday, Dec. 29 at the stores on Chain Bridge Road in McClean (4:30 a.m.) and Braddock Road in Springfield (8 a.m.)
- 5:15 a.m. Thursday, Jan. 12 at the store on Lincolnia Road in Alexandria
- Two Monday, Jan. 16 attempted thefts at the stores on Beulah Street (4:23 a.m.) and Frye Road (1:10 p.m.) in Alexandria
- 10:59 a.m. Saturday, Jan. 21 at the store on Beauregard Street in Alexandria
Jones and Hardy may have targeted two 7-Elevens in one day when they were arrested on Jan. 24.
A store employee at the Frye Road 7-Eleven placed the first call to Fairfax County police officers at 8:55 p.m. The store is located in the Mount Vernon section of Alexandria.
The witness told police two men just stole a gaming machine. They loaded the machine into a silver truck before leaving west on Frye Road.
That brought more officers to the area. Investigators found a truck matching the description near the Russell Road 7-Eleven, which is also in Alexandria’s Mount Vernon district.
- Officers had a partial license plate from the earlier theft.
- Parts of a gaming machine were “in plain view in the truck’s bed,” according to the police report and
- Jones and Hardy were wearing clothes that matched the description of the men recorded in surveillance footage during the Frye Road theft.
- Detectives found more evidence inside the vehicle.
About two hours passed between the Frye Road theft and the Russell Road attempt that was interrupted by police.
For now, police only charged Jones and Hardy with the most recent thefts in the Mount Vernon area. Fairfax County Police are still looking into the previous six crimes, so more charges could be on the horizon.
Jones was charged with:
- grand larceny
- possession of burglarious tools
- two counts of destruction of property and
- petit larceny.
Hardy was charged with:
- grand larceny
- destruction of property and
- simple assault.
Fairfax County officers want to work closely with businesses to prevent future thefts. Its public information department posted:
“Business owners should secure gaming machines and ATMs to the floor. Owners should ensure security cameras are in good working order. Windows on the front of businesses should be clear of any obstruction. If a crime is in progress, contact police immediately.”
The county’s Major Crimes Bureau fields tips about the gaming machine thefts at 703-246-7800. Direct anonymous tips to Crime Solvers by phone at 1-866-411-TIPS (866-411-8477).
Gaming machines are still a grey area from a policy standpoint in Virginia, by the way. Some lawmakers want the machines taxed — and monitored more closely for fairness — at the state level.