VIRGINIA

A Stern Warning to Secure the Car

Even the Fairfax County police were surprised. In launching a program to stop auto theft, officers spent two mornings this week handing warnings to drivers in the Mount Vernon area who left their cars running while they ducked inside a store or apartment building. In just four hours, police handed out 141 warnings.

Of the roughly 100 cars stolen in Fairfax each month, about half were left unlocked, and one in five had the keys inside, said Lt. Graham McGowan, of the police auto theft squad. So a group of eight officers and detectives decided to take an active approach between 6 and 8 a.m. on Wednesday and Thursday mornings, watching convenience stores and dense residential areas in the Route 1 corridor.

"Some people were thankful for the reminder," McGowan said. "A lot of them said, `I was only going to be gone a minute.' And some of them said, `It's my car, I'll do what I want.' "

Ads Would Explain Loss of Fox TV in Fairfax

Fox Television plans to run advertisements in tomorrow's Washington Post explaining to Fairfax County cable television viewers about a dispute with Cox Cable that may result in the loss of WTTG-TV (Fox Channel 5) from the cable lineup on that day.

Fox is refusing to allow Cox to carry WTTG unless the cable company promises to add two Fox specialty channels in areas where Cox provides digital cable service. Cox has refused, saying the network is holding Washington area viewers hostage.

If the two companies don't agree by midnight, the Fox 5 signal will be turned off. Cox says it will replace Fox 5 with other programming.

The planned ads would apologize for the inconvenience but blame Cox for the loss of NFL games, "The Simpsons" and "The X-Files." A Fox spokesman said his company plans to rent an auditorium in the Washington area with big-screen televisions to show Redskins playoff games if the standoff lasts for several weeks.

A Cox official said yesterday that Fox had declined an offer to extend negotiations for 30 days. The Fox spokesman said the offer for a 30-day extension required his company to agree with Cox.

Worker Pleads Guilty in Fires at Police Center

A police employee charged with setting small fires inside Alexandria police headquarters in September pleaded guilty yesterday to maliciously burning an occupied building erected for public use, a prosecutor said.

Terrell Johnson, 27, a civilian employee, could get a term of five to 20 years in prison when she is sentenced Feb. 3 in Alexandria Circuit Court, said Commonwealth's Attorney S. Randolph Sengel. Johnson is being held without bond, he said.

Johnson, a part-time records clerk, told police she used gasoline to start fires on the second and third floors of police headquarters. Damage was confined primarily to carpets, Sengel said. Johnson said she was angry at the way supervisors treated her and other employees, he said.

Stolen Ornaments Await Owners at Lot

Nearly a dozen Christmas lawn decorations, including a large plastic Santa and a small herd of reindeer figures, are awaiting their owners at an Arlington County police impounding lot after a blitz on outdoor ornaments at homes in North Arlington.

The first report of ornament theft came Dec. 23 from a resident of the 3500 block of North Dinwiddie Street who said the stolen items included a large Santa's head that had been bolted to his front door, according to Detective Ron Weckenman. Then six more reports came in.

Stolen ornaments that were found abandoned went to the impounding lot. Weckenman said that he suspects the culprit may be a college student or two and that the owners whose decorations were taken "were pretty upset that someone would be that low at Christmas to steal Christmas ornaments."

MARYLAND

Governor's Son Pleads Guilty to DUI

Raymond H. Glendening, the 20-year-old son of Gov. Parris N. Glendening (D), pleaded guilty in Prince George's Circuit Court yesterday to driving under the influence in connection with a June 5 incident in which he was arrested by county police in College Park.

Judge Vincent J. Femia gave Raymond Glendening probation before judgment, which means no conviction will appear on his record. Femia also imposed a $500 fine and $100 in court costs.

Raymond Glendening, a student at West Virginia University, was arrested on Baltimore Avenue after the Chevy Blazer he was driving sideswiped a utility pole and he failed three field sobriety tests, according to police.

The state Motor Vehicle Administration suspended his driver's license for 120 days after the incident. The suspension ended early this month, and his driving privileges were restored, said Bruce Marcus, Raymond Glendening's Greenbelt attorney.

THE DISTRICT

Police Officer Appears on Robbery Charge

Suspended D.C. police officer Warren L. Pindell appeared in D.C. Superior Court on an armed robbery charge yesterday, accused of working with prostitutes to rob two unsuspecting customers. He was released and ordered to attend a Jan. 19 hearing.

Pindell, 33, said nothing during his brief appearance. Detectives contend that Pindell, off-duty but in uniform, robbed two men at gunpoint this month after the prostitutes lured the men into a trap. The women later cooperated with investigators.

National Tree Turns to White at 10 P.M.

The multicolored lights on the National Christmas Tree will turn to all white at 10 tonight in honor of the millennium rather than at midnight as earlier announced, according to a National Park Service spokesman.

Spokesman Earle Kittleman said no reason was given by the White House for the schedule change.

QUOTE OF THE DAY:

"The ball's going to be blown away. I won't hype it beyond the obvious."

-- M. Philip Butler, fireworks producer for the midnight pyrtechnic display on the Mall, disparaging the lighted ball in New York's Times Square that will signal the start of the New Year there.