Police Academy 2017: Cadets hit road with stolen cop cars, stun guns and radios
Two boys and a girl in a police cadet programme for teenagers stole three squad cars and went on patrol around Los Angeles before leading officers on wild pursuits which ended in crashes.
In a prank worthy of one of Hollywood's Police Academy movies, the trio, aged 15, 16 and 17, "gamed the system" and used the name of a sergeant on holiday to sign for stun guns and radios and drive away with the cars, Los Angeles Police Department c hief Charlie Beck said.
Police are investigating whether the teenagers impersonated officers and pulled over drivers.
The three were arrested on Wednesday night after two pursuits ended with crashes in South Los Angeles.
A third police car was later recovered, around the corner from a police station.
Mr Beck said he had ordered a thorough review of the department's cadet programme and inventory management procedures.
"We are going to take this apart top to bottom," he said. "We're going to see what we can do better and we're going to do it."
The youngsters were part of a programme for volunteers who work in police stations and go through an academy to learn about the criminal justice system.
They used their inside knowledge of the police department procedures to obtain the vehicles and gear, Mr Beck said.
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.
Police first grew suspicious when a sergeant who was conducting a routine inventory noticed a patrol vehicle was unaccounted for.
Investigators later reviewed surveillance video that showed a young woman with the vehicle at a petrol pump, he said.
A police officer patrolling in South Los Angeles on Wednesday night saw two of the stolen vehicles being driven together and tried to pull them over.
The teenagers behind the wheel refused to stop and led police on pursuits that ended with two separate crashes.
A woman suffered a minor injury at the end of one of the pursuits, said police spokesman Josh Rubenstein. He said she was "an innocent bystander in a separate vehicle".
The third car was recovered later when one of the culprits revealed its location to officers, Mr Beck said.
The three teenagers were arrested on suspicion of vehicle theft and other charges.
One of them was wearing a bulletproof vest that had been taken from a police station, the chief said.
Mr Beck said there was no indication any police officers were involved in the thefts.