Los Angeles Police Department cadets arrested after stealing three patrol cars

She was "an innocent bystander in a separate vehicle", he said.

The female teenager was last seen on surveillance video putting gas on one of the vehicles that was missing.

Police are investigating whether the teenagers impersonated officers and pulled over drivers.

Police said the teens were brought in for questioning following the arrest and one confessed to stealing a third patrol auto, which they possibly had for weeks. During an afternoon press conference Thursday, Chief Charlie Beck said an LAPD officer was chasing both cars when it started, but the vehicles went separate ways and created two separate chases. 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 Los Angeles Police Department arrested and charged three of its own juvenile cadets after they stole and crashed three police vehicles, authorities said.

"We have some very sophisticated systems, but the cadets, due to their familiarity with these systems, were able to counter them and gain access not only to the vehicles, but to shield the fact that they were unaccounted for for some amount of time", Beck said.

Beck said that he's "directed a top-to-bottom review of our cadet program", and added that he hopes the incident doesn't mar the reputation of the program, which involves more than 2,300 cadets.

The three were arrested Wednesday after two pursuits ended with crashes in South Los Angeles.

"It appears, at this point, that they accessed our inventory system, logged into a sergeant's name who they knew that was on vacation", he said. One of the stolen cruisers crashed near San Pedro and 77th streets, while the other collided with an uninvolved motorist near Central Avenue and Adams Boulevard, Beck said. All 1,800 vehicles are accounted for and no firearms ever went missing.

Beck added that those who were allegedly involved in the thefts are "young people who are at a very volatile time in our lives", and they are sometimes bound to make mistakes like anyone else.

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 said it's not clear how the SUVs were stolen or why, but a full investigation has been launched.

The investigation into the cadets remains open, an LAPD spokesman said. From there police tracked them down. "And they impersonated him to cover their use of the vehicles".

  • Larry Hoffman