It was perhaps the intervention of a higher authority that brought a veteran Fairfax officer and an Arlington native together last month, after a man snatched a purse with prayer books and a rosary inside.
The victim wished to remain anonymous. But she wanted her gratitude to Officer Matthew Pleva to be heard loud and clear. The officer is a man of faith, who decided to replace the woman’s rosary.
“He showed up at my front door, completely unexpected,” the 69-year-old said in an interview Wednesday. “And he was smiling. He said, ‘you can’t go to mass tomorrow without a rosary,’ and it brought me to tears.”
Pleva said this was a unique religious connection made at the crime scene off Richmond Highway. Both the woman and officer attend nearby churches, with the victim’s agony striking a chord.
“It reminded me of my grandmother, and her religious devotion,” Pleva said. “So I turned to a family friend, who happens to be a priest, and he happened to have an extra rosary.”
The purse was recovered, but without the religious items. The suspect is still at large, described as a white male, 25 to 28 years old with a thin build. Witnesses reported the suspect leaving the 6700 block of Richmond Highway Feb. 21, in light-colored pickup truck with a ladder rack in the back.
“The way this was resolved was a matter of joy for me,” the victim said. “Police get a bum deal sometimes, and I felt this was an outstanding officer.”
If you recognize him or have information on his whereabouts, please contact the Mount Vernon Criminal Investigations Section at 703-360-8400 (hit zero at the voice prompt) or the Fairfax County Police at 703-691-2131.
Contact Crime Solvers online or text-a-tip by texting “TIP187” plus your message to CRIMES (274637).