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Vandalism plaguing downtown VRE lot

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There has been a spike in vandalism at a Virginia Railway Express parking lot near the Fredericksburg train station, with car windows smashed and tires flattened.

So far this year, according to the Fredericksburg Police Department, there have been 13 reports of vandalism to vehicles in Lot G off Prince Edward Street, a free parking area owned by the commuter rail system.

During the same period last year, there were four reported incidents at the parking area near the 1910-vintage station on Lafayette Boulevard.

There have been no reports of similar spikes at other city VRE lots or in Stafford County.

The culprit or culprits seem to be intent on damage only, police said. Commuters have been returning from work in D.C. and Northern Virginia to find windows smashed and tires punctured. Only some loose change, a license plate and registration stickers have been reported stolen.

In some cases, numerous vehicles have been damaged during a single spree.

On Aug. 8, tires were flattened on six vehicles; on May 14, windows were shattered on five vehicles; on March 18, four commuters returned to the lot to find their tires punctured.

The situation has frustrated commuters who board the trains in the city, including one victim whose angry letter to the editor was published this week.

Police and VRE officials said they are aware of the issue and have been working to stop the crimes and catch whoever is doing it.

City police have “had targeted patrol there, both in uniform and in plain clothes,” spokeswoman Natatia Bledsoe said in an email. She added that they have identified potential suspects, though they have not caught anyone in the act.

In one case, on June 3, someone reported that a young male was breaking into vehicles at the lot. When an officer arrived, there was no one in the lot, but two cars had broken windows and the consoles and glove boxes had been tampered with, according to the police report.

VRE’s Mark Roeber said in an email that its employees will “canvas the lot more regularly in hopes that a general increase in presence will deter such vandalism.”

While some Northern Virginia VRE stations have security cameras, Roeber said they don’t have them in parking lots, including Lot G in Fredericksburg.

Scott Shenk: 540/374-5436


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