Four Washington men have been arrested by the D.C. Police Repeat Offender Project and charged with stealing from a Metro farecard machine at the Capitol South subway station.

Police said the men were arrested at the subway station at about 4:55 a.m. Friday. The officers who made the arrests were involved in an investigation of a series of farecard machine riflings that has cost the Metro system about $128,000 over two years.

The Friday morning theft, which was recorded by a videotape camera mounted in the station, occurred after four men had forced their way through a light-weight steel gate, police said. About $2,000 was recovered, they said.

One of the suspects is a 17-year-old youth who had been AWOL from the Marine Corps for about two weeks, police said. He had been permitted to join the corps to escape incarceration after a conviction for burglary in connection with a theft in May 1981 from a farecard machine at the Addison Road station, police said.

A week ago today,, police got a tip that the youth would be involved in another farecard machine theft. He became a target of the Repeat Offender Project, a newly formed unit whose goal is to arrest known offenders, in the act of committing a crime if possible.

Capt. Edward Spurlock, who heads the project, said, "I'm as happy as I can be about this bust; this is the first one we've gotten on film." Officers of the Metro Transit Police and U.S. Capitol Police assisted in the investigation, Spurlock said.

Three adults arrested in the case were identified as Frederick Jackson, 22, of 518 15th St. SE, and George E. Washington, 21, and Frederick Montrose, 18, both of 137 Galveston Place SW. They were charged with burglary and released on bail, authorities said.