Police nab teens after car theft spree

A group of teenagers arrested following a high-speed chase in which they clocked speeds of up to 170kmh early yesterday are lucky to be alive, police say.

And the force is calling on parents to be aware of their children's whereabouts at all times, as two girls, aged 15, were among the group.

The six teenagers, aged 15 to 19, will appear in the Gisborne District Court charged with a number of offences, including breaking into a motor vehicle, unlawfully taking a motor vehicle and driving while disqualified.

The group are thought to have stolen three vehicles from Gisborne on Tuesday night.

About 2am yesterday, they were spotted by police on State Highway 2,  setting off a high-speed pursuit through parts of Gisborne and as far as Frasertown, near Wairoa.

At one stage, officers had to give up on the chase, as one car reached up to 170kmh.

Police cordoned off a number of rural roads and caught the vehicles, one of which broke down, one by one.

None of the group were injured.

Detective Senior Sergeant Craig Scott, of Gisborne Central police, said they were happy to have the group in custody, but warned that the incident could have easily turned to tragedy.

"It was early in the morning, so there weren't any cars around,'' he said.

"But [if it were] earlier, even with a little traffic, it could have been a complete disaster.

"They're definitely very lucky that there was no accident, injuries or death. You see it on TV and we've seen it in the last couple of days - those poor families who are dealing with the aftermath of an accident.

"These kids haven't thought about that, they're just thinking of the moment.''

Mr Scott said up to 10 officers worked until about 5am, when the vehicles were eventually found.

He said police were looking for a fourth and possibly fifth vehicle stolen from the Gisborne area.

However, it was not yet known whether there was any connection to the group.

Mr Scott called for parents to make sure that they knew where their teenagers were at all times - particularly young girls.

"We had these 15-year-old girls out at 3 o'clock in the morning ...

"We just want parents to be aware of where their kids are, especially at that time of the night.''

Mr Scott also warned that those planning to wreak havoc would be in for a hard time, as there were more police officers patrolling over the holiday period.

"If you're thinking of running from the police, the message would be: Just pull over - nothing's worth dying for.''

- Vaimoana Tapaleao of the NZ Herald

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