Unmarked police car
File photo: Unmarked police car iStock

Three teenagers in Los Angeles who were taking part in a program for people hoping to become police officers, ended up stealing three patrol cars before taking police on a chase around the city and eventually crashing.

Two boys and a girl aged 15,16 and 17, used a sergeant's name who was on holiday to sign out stun guns, radios and drive the cars out of the police station.

The trio were all arrested on Wednesday 14 June after two pursuits resulted in crashes in the south of the city.

Police chief Charlie Beck said: "We are going to take this apart top to bottom. We're going to see what we can do better and we're going to do it."

The teenagers were taking part in a volunteer programme which helps them to go through the police academy and learn about the criminal justice system.

One of the vehicles may have been missing for a couple of weeks after it was noticed that it had been unaccounted for in a routine inventory check.

An officer was out on patrol when they saw two of the stolen police vehicles driving together and tried to pull them over. The teens refused to stop and led police on pursuits that ended with two separate crashes.

A woman suffered minor injuries when her car was hit in the midst of the pursuit.

One of the teens was wearing a bulletproof vest which had also been taken from the police station.

Beck said that there was no evidence that any actual police officers were involved in the thefts.