For at least two months, thieves hit neighborhoods in Fairfax and Loudoun counties. They broke into cars and stole loaded guns and other valuables.
Three men and one juvenile have been charged in these crimes in Loudoun County as of Tuesday, and police in Fairfax County say more arrests will be made soon. An alert neighbor helped end the crime spree.
The rash of overnight car break-ins started in mid-July. In some cases, the cars had been left unlocked; in others, the thieves used bricks to bash in windows. They were after valuables, but especially guns. Once they got those guns, they sometimes fired.
"It was concerning to us," Loudoun County Sheriff Mike Chapman said.
"I think they were after, in particular, anything they could make money off of. And certainly they wanted to go after guns if they could find guns in a car," he continued.
The suspects were finally caught in the Willowsford neighborhood on Sept. 11. A neighbor saw a vehicle with the doors all flung open, so, he called police.
Loudoun County deputies flooded the area, and Fairfax County sent its chopper to help. Finally, after two hours, two young men emerged from the woods and were arrested.
Onan Nunez, 19, of Ashburn; Justin Rubianes, 21, of Reston; and Bryan Sandoval, 19, of Reston have been arrested. A juvenile who police did not name also faces charges.
Court documents show their information led detectives to a townhouse in Reston. There, police seized dozens of stolen items, including guns and ammunition.
In Fairfax County alone, police have 200 items to try to trace back to their owners.
"It's unfortunate that that's how illegal guns are getting onto the streets," Loudoun County resident Dawn Scontras said. She woke up one morning last month to a flood of police on her block, searching for the thieves.
In an effort to track down all the guns, Fairfax County sent its dive team to a pond in Reston last week. News4 shot exclusive video there.
The Loudoun County sheriff said these crimes underscore the need to always lock up your vehicle and keep everything valuable out of sight. Bring guns inside. When that's not possible, lock them in the trunk or in a special safe.