A group of eight teenagers and children, some as young as 11, were involved in a frantic cross-country race in stolen vehicles that saw a motorist injured and a policeman beaten. Picture/file
A group of eight children, some as young as 11, were involved in a frantic cross-country race in stolen vehicles that saw a motorist injured and a police officer run over.
The shocking incident, which happened around 5pm on Saturday, stretched from Waikato to north Auckland in an episode which was described by a police source as “chaos”.
Waitematā District Commander Superintendent Naila Hassan said an off-duty policeman saw a number of youths, aged between 11 and 17, abandon a stolen vehicle in Takanini.
The group of at least eight people were then seen breaking into and stealing two more vehicles before fleeing south towards Waikato.
She said two stolen vehicles were seen exiting the Te Kauwhata off-ramp, where one of the vehicles had been pinned down by police.
While being watched by the Eagle police helicopter, the child driving the stolen vehicle crashed into another car, injuring the driver.
This person was airlifted to Waikato Hospital with serious injuries.
Superintendent Hassan told the Herald the chaos continued when a number of youths fled the crashed car and jumped into the second stolen vehicle.
They then changed direction and headed back to Auckland on State Highway 1 towards Waitematā, she said.
“Police deployed spikes north of the Johnstones Hill tunnel as the vehicle moved north.”
That’s when the driver tried to avoid police before crashing into an officer on the side of the road, she said.
“The stolen vehicle stopped short of peaks after being spotted by the driver.
At this time, the stolen vehicle turned towards the officer, who was at the edge of the highway in the median, and headed towards him, hitting him on the arm and throwing him backwards.
“The officer was lightly injured and was lucky to escape serious injury due to his quick thinking when jumping from the oncoming vehicle.
“The driver attempted to maneuver the vehicle into a U-turn on the south lane of State Highway 1, but the vehicle was successfully pinned a second time.”
The 14-year-old driver has been arrested and will appear in juvenile court.
The seven passengers were referred to Youth Aid.
Police told the Herald the driver’s actions were “calculated and dangerous”.
“This driver’s behavior was incredibly dangerous and is unacceptable.
“Our staff come to work to keep our community safe and do not deserve to be subjected to such calculated and dangerous actions, as this offender has shown.”
The race for crime across the country came just hours after seven young people were arrested by a police helicopter crew in Northland after fleeing from police on the same day.
They were arrested for attempting to steal vehicles from members of the public on State Highway 1 in Wellsford.
After being pinned down, seven youths fled the stolen car and approached a line of stationary vehicles which had been blocked by the youths’ car parked across the road.
They failed to enter some of these vehicles and attempted to flee in another vehicle.
With ground police personnel still some distance away, the Eagle crew made the decision to land on farmland adjacent to the incident, just off SH1.
Two officers from the helicopter rushed to the scene and arrested the seven youths before they could escape again.
“I have no doubt that the actions of our Eagle crew prevented further offenses by these seven youths, who intended to secure a second stolen vehicle – and no doubt to get away again” , said Inspector Jason Homan.