Eight youths have been detained by Taupō police after a saga of stolen cars, police chases and car crashes that all began with a date set up on social media.
The drama began when police started chasing a car near Tokoroa around 4am on November 19. The car had been stolen from Hamilton.
The officers abandoned pursuit, but police later spotted the stolen car just north of Taupō and laid road spikes to stop it. The car hit the spikes, rolled and came to a stop.
In the car they found three boys who had stolen several cars to get to Taupō from Auckland.
"Taupō police have apprehended three juveniles without incident or injury," police said in a statement.
"These juveniles are from Auckland and aged 15, 14 and 12. Police enquiries have established that over the preceding night these three juveniles stole two further motor cars between Auckland and Hamilton."
The boys were determined to get to Taupō to meet a 16-year-old girl who they'd been talking with online.
Meanwhile, the young woman had removed her electronic monitoring bracelet and got in a stolen car with four other young men. Police found them at about 8:40am when the stolen car crashed, very close to where the car of Auckland boys had been stopped.
"The attending police officer, ably and gratefully assisted by a member of the public, managed to detain and corral the five juveniles near the second crashed vehicle while further police assistance was summoned," police said.
The saga got worse when the girl, detained in a police car, climbed into the driver's seat and took off.
"She has then driven the police car a very short distance and crashed it into the side of the car belonging to the member of the public assisting police staff," police said.
"Minor damage was sustained to both vehicles. The five juveniles were also taken to the Taupō station.
"During police investigations it has become evident that all eight juveniles involved in both these incidents know one another."
Police say the eight youths are "subject to a variety of outcomes".
"This incident was created by a juvenile using social media to engineer a highly risky serious situation," they said.