Three alleged burglars changed their clothes and hid in a supermarket after leading police on a pursuit through the city, police say.
Detective Sergeant Iain Chapman said police received a call from an Ohauiti resident about three men who had jumped a fence into their neighbour's Smylie Close property just before noon yesterday.
A police officer arrived just in time to see the men leave the house, jump the fence, get into a black Nissan Skyline and speed away.
Police pursued the men from the scene, down Poike Rd, towards the Welcome Bay roundabout and along Turret Rd to an industrial complex on Thirteenth Ave, Mr Chapman said.
The trio left their car in the carpark of the complex and took off on foot leaving police to scour the area for them, he said.
Cordons were put in place briefly while police searched for them.
Members of the public directed police by pointing out the direction the men went in and they were quickly found hiding out in Tauranga Countdown on Cameron Rd, Mr Chapman said.
"They changed their clothing and that sort of thing. They ditched their clothing along the way," he said.
A reporter at the scene saw about five police cars and eight police officers in the supermarket speaking to staff, and handcuffing and frisking the trio.
Mr Chapman said a few personal items were taken from the house.
"It certainly was not worth it for what could have been a pretty serious outcome," he said.
The homeowner, who did not want to be named, said her house had been ransacked and cameras, tools, alcohol and jewellery taken although police had already returned most of the stolen property. Mr Chapman said fleeing from police was always a dangerous choice to make and the trio were lucky to have escaped with out injuring themselves or anyone else.
The neighbour who reported the men's suspicious behaviour did exactly the right thing by calling police, he said. He urged people to trust their instincts and call 111 as soon as they saw any suspicious behaviour to give police the best possible chance of catching offenders.
Two Tauranga men and a Rotorua man, all aged between 18 and 24, will appear in Tauranga District Court today charged with burglary, unlawfully being on a property, dangerous driving and failing to stop.