WHITEHALL, Ohio — A group of teens led police on a chase more than 20 miles from Whitehall to the west side of Columbus in a stolen car Thursday afternoon. Police also recovered two handguns.
The group of teens, as young as 13 were in the stolen car, going through grass and traveling at speeds of more than 100 mph.
Whitehall police spotted a car that had been stolen in Columbus. Police said the group of teens inside the car went into a store and tried to use a stolen credit card. Whitehall police said when they tried to stop the teens, they took off.
“As patrol and the detectives moved in to apprehend these juveniles, they got back in the car, backed up really quickly and ran into a detective's vehicle. From there, the pursuit ensued,” said Whitehall Lieutenant Brian Smith.
That detective was not injured, but the teens ramped over speed bumps, went through school zones and onto the freeway, trying to get away.
Smith said the department takes a lot of different factors into consideration before they will pursue a car. He said lately they've noticed more serious crimes with the stolen Hyundais or Kias.
“What we are finding, only a few months ago, it was just stolen cars. Lately, we have been finding that nearly every single one of these stolen Hyundais or Kias that we locate with juveniles, have firearms in them or spent shell casings, which indicates a firearm was discharged from inside,” Smith explained.
Whitehall's SWAT team helped in arresting five teens, ages 13 to 16, near an apartment complex on the west side of Columbus. Police say they recovered two guns as well.
“I think our officers do a phenomenal job. They work very closely with our detectives. In this particular case, they were able to follow the car, surround the apartment and actually arrest all the juveniles involved,” Smith said.
Smith said this should serve as another reminder to take extra precautions if you own a Hyundai or Kia.
“Until the manufacturers come up with solutions, you really have to be careful. What we are seeing now is Kia and Hyundai owners that haven't just had their car stolen, but having their car stolen multiple times after having to fix it and repair damages,” Smith said.
Smith said the best way for owners of Kias and Hyundais is to buy a steering wheel club.