Arlington undercover policeman Charles Gavin was watching the parking garage at 1425 S. Eads St. early yesterday morning when a 1978 Ford, its back seat crammed with goods that blocked the rear window, pulled away from the garage, Arlington police said yesterday.
Gavin chased the car until he lost sight of it near Seventh Street and Independence Avenue in the District, police said.
D.C. police were alerted and, minutes later, stopped a car driven by Jerry M. Little of 2312 Pitts Place SE, Apt. 4, according to a D.C. police spokeswoman. She said Little was arrested as a fugitive wanted in Arlington on a charge of grand larceny, according to a D.C. police spokeswoman.
Arlington police said goods worth several thousand dollars, including seven sets of golf clubs, two tires, luggage and a radio, were recovered from Little's car.
They said they planned to ask District officials to extradite Little.
Arlington police say they have puzzled for months over a rash of auto break-ins in Crystal City and Rosslyn. Since January, the trunks of 122 cars parked in secured underground garages have been "punched' -- that is, broken with a screwdriver or other tool -- and the trunk contents stolen.
The break-ins occurred in clusters, said Sgt. Ted Holder of the auto theft division -- 14 cars at Crystal Towers on S. Eads St. in January; 18 cars at the Stouffer Concourse Hotel on Jefferson Davis Highway April 25.
Arlington police have issued a warrant for Little's arrest, charging him only in the latest round of break-ins, in which 21 cars were broken into.
In some of the thefts from Arlington garages, Holder said, thieves would gain entry to the garages by crossing the wires on automatic garage-door openers; in others, they apparently had magnetic cards that gave them access to the garages.
Several managers of buildings in Crystal City and Rosslyn said they were alarmed about the rash of break-ins.
"You're always concerned about something like this in a multifamily building," said Patricia O'Herlihy, housing manager of The Representative condominiums on S. Arlington Ridge Road, where 10 cars were broken into Feb. 8.
"We have certainly put in more security at night, and added brighter lights throughout the parking lot to try to discourage thieves," O'Herlihy said.
She said she has also encouraged residents to be more vigilant about safety in the garage.