A 32-year-old northwest Washington woman, who police said would drive around the city looking for old cars to tow away to a junkyard for profit, was arrested and charged yesterday with five counts of interstate transportation of stolen automobiles, D.C. police reported.

Assistant U.S. Attorney Joseph McSorley identified the woman as Lorraine Vaughn Johnson, of 1816 19th St. NW, D.C. Police Detective James W. Henderson and FBI Special Agent Jerry Tucker said they charged Johnson after they obtained a subpoena to look at records of automobile shredders and the records of returned serial plates, from the Maryland department of motor vehicles.

According to McSorley, Johnson is said to have cruised District streets looking for old cars that had not been moved in several days. Once such a car had been located, he said, it would be towed to an auto junk yard.

Dealers there would buy the vehicle for 60 cents a pound and would pay the seller, who used fictitious names on documents, $2 for the serial plates, which must be returned to the state, according to law.

McSorley said Maryland law stipulates that cars eight years or older can be sold without a title. The seller simply signs an agreement declaring that he owns the car.

Law enforcement officials said state law should be revamped to require proof of title before a car can be shredded or sold for junk.