3 teen volunteers arrested in theft of LAPD cars, stun guns

Police Academy 2017: Cadets hit road with stolen cop cars, stun guns and radios

Teen LAPD cadets allegedly steal patrol cars, impersonate officers, chief says

Three teenagers on a Los Angeles police cadet programme stole patrol cars and led authorities on wild pursuits that ended with crashes, the city's police chief has said.

After a auto went missing, the police still took weeks to notice that the vehicle had been stolen.

According to Beck, when officers first found the cruisers Wednesday, they were "driving in tandem".

The third vehicle was recovered later when one of the teenagers revealed its location to officers, Beck said. She was "an innocent bystander in a separate vehicle", he said. In one chase, a stolen auto crashed at 77th and San Pedro streets and the driver was taken into custody. Investigators believe the cadets used their knowledge of the LAPD's computer inventory system to check the vehicles out under the name of a sergeant who was on vacation, Beck said. He said an investigation after the chase had discovered that a third vehicle had also been stolen-after an interrogation with one of the suspects, the third vehicle was recovered near the LAPD's 77th street station. The teen arrested in connection with that auto was wearing a police bulletproof vest stolen from the vehicle. After interviewing the suspects, officers realized there was a third patrol vehicle that was missing.

The second stolen vehicle crashed about four miles away, at Adams Boulevard and Central Avenue.

The female teenager was last seen on surveillance video putting gas on one of the vehicles that was missing. Beck said the three teens may have been impersonating police officers following the theft.

An officer crashed into a civilian vehicle near the intersection of Gage Avenue and Broadway during the chase, police said. "The vast majority of these young people come from hard neighborhoods, and have taken to the Los Angeles Police Department as not only mentors, but as a way to improve their education and increase their opportunities", said Beck. Police vehicles are part of an automated system where members of the LAPD must sign the vehicles in and out.

Authorities are still trying to work out exactly when the cars were taken, but Mr Beck said investigators were looking into the possibility that at least one of them had been missing since May 28.

Beck says he's ordered a full review of the cadet program and the department's procedures for managing its cars and equipment.

"We are going to take this apart top to bottom", he said.

"And so we're going to look at this and look how they did it, and we're going to make sure it can't be replicated", he said.

The mistakes "may not be as egregious as this", he said, and the department wants to avoid giving "anybody the ability to cross the line if we can help it".

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