A Northland man was arrested after a police pursuit lasting more than two hours and involving four stolen vehicles, police dogs, a rammed police car, a plane and a school caretaker on a ride-on lawnmower.
The drama began when a police patrol spotted a stolen car on State Highway 11, between Puketona and Paihia, about 8.45am yesterday.
Another stolen car was found nearby. But the cars took off in different directions and one was found abandoned on Kaipatiki Roadway, off SH11.
Northland police spokeswoman Sarah Kennett said a police dog and handler were called to track the driver but were unsuccessful.
While the dog handler was searching for the driver of the abandoned car, the second car was found abandoned in a nearby quarry.
It was quickly discovered that a car belonging to a quarry worker had been stolen and not long after a police patrol car in the Hukerenui area saw the car stolen from the quarry.
The police car stopped the stolen vehicle on the side of the road, but say the car rammed into the police vehicle and took off heading north on SH1.
Although damaged in the incident, the police patrol car followed the stolen car, which drove off into the Motatau area.
Police also sought help to spot the stolen vehicle from a plane flying in the area.
The driver then abandoned that car and allegedly stole another vehicle from Motatau School after the caretaker tried to stop it leaving by using his ride-on lawnmower.
That car crashed about 2km from the school and the driver ran off before he was found by a second dog handler.
A 26-year-old man has been charged with unlawful taking and will be appearing in the Whangarei District Court today.
Police are continuing to search for another offender who abandoned one of the two vehicles off Kaipatiki Roadway.
Senior Sergeant Rob Huys said no police staff or members of the public were injured and he thanked the public for their help in providing information on the movements of the stolen vehicles as the drama unfolded.
"It required a quick and well co-ordinated response by police, which involved the Northland Police District Command Centre working with the Northern Communications Centre to locate and stop an offender," Mr Huys said.