Arlington police, responding to continuing high crime rates in Crystal City and the concerns of residents and workers, met yesterday with a group of Crystal City employes "to try to get as many eyes and ears in that area as we can," said police Lt. Robert Minnich.
In 1985, the census tract containing most of Crystal City had the highest number of serious crimes reported in the county. Nearly three-quarters of those were larcenies, but the census tract also ranked first in the number of reported robberies and motor vehicle thefts and had the second-highest number of burglaries.
Crime statistics released yesterday for the first three months of 1986, compared with the same period in 1985, show a 30 percent increase in robberies and a 68 percent increase in vehicle theft.
Police spokesman Tom Bell said many of those crimes occurred in Crystal City. "There have been lots of purse snatchings, which we tend to have around Metro stops," he said. "In Crystal City, there's more opportunity for crime; there are more people on the streets."
A burst of development in Crystal City during the past 15 years has added 5 million square feet of office space and more than 27,000 workers to the area, county planners said.
Before the surge of high-rise buildings, "Crystal City used to be flat," Minnich said. "Now, it's so vertical, you can't see anything down there. There are so many nooks and crannies" that increase the opportunities for crime, he said.
The police department's budget request for next year asks the County Board for $417,000 to hire 13 additional officers, six of whom would be assigned to Crystal City, Deputy Chief David Reiten said. The board will adopt the budget April 26.
At yesterday's meeting in the Arlington Court House, officers of the crime resistance unit and other police divisions advised about 25 employes, many of them in charge of security for their businesses.
Recommendations included making sure valuable equipment is engraved with serial numbers for identification, installing effective locks and access systems such as computer cards and being vigilant when strangers enter or leave the office.
Detective Gregg Kurasz of the crime resistance unit said the safety worries of Crystal City residents and workers were ignited by the fatal stabbing in November of an Environmental Protection Agency employe on the 11th floor of her office building at 1921 Jefferson Davis Hwy.
Roger Connor, a security specialist for the EPA who attended the meeting, said that incident prompted many new safety measures in the building, including metal gates in the stairwells, an electronic card access system and glass doors in the lobby, to prevent movement from the elevators into the stairwells.