Police have lambasted "rubberneckers" who followed a police pursuit in procession last night through the streets of Napier.
In a bizarre low-speed pursuit, a stolen Toyota Hilux evaded Hawke's Bay police for more than 90 minutes driving on wheel rims after its tyres were spiked three times.
But what has police seeing red are the motorists who almost formed a drag chain as the police pursued the stolen vehicle through streets at low speed.
Acting Hawke's Bay area commander Inspector Rob Jones said the actions of these nosey motorists was highly dangerous.
"This is just plain stupid and quite frankly beyond comprehension. They were putting themselves in danger and diverting police attention away from the incident. The driver could easily have turned around and driven into them. The last thing we need is members of the public getting mixed up in an already volatile incident," he said.
At one point police were forced to stop chasing the stolen Hilux and instruct the cars not to follow them.
Mr Jones said the pursuit speeds varied because of the unpredictable actions of the driver, the residential area and other traffic on the roads.
He said the police's top priority was the safety of the public.
"While the pursuit did slow down considerably at times, there was good reason for this and, ultimately, no one was injured during the incident, including police staff or the driver of the stolen vehicle."
The pursuit began on Kennedy Rd just after 11pm when police came across a stolen Toyota Hilux that had been taken from a Napier house last month.
After refusing to stop for police, the vehicle was followed through the suburbs Tamatea, Maraenui and Pirimai. It was able to evade police several times and disappeared from view on several occasions.
Just after 12.30am, the Hilux was stopped at low speed on Kennedy Rd driving only on its wheel rims after its tyres were spiked three times at different locations.
Two police cars were damaged during the incident.
A 30-year-old Napier man was due to appear in the Hastings District Court today charged with theft of a vehicle, reckless driving, failing to stop for police, possession of methamphetamine and cannabis and possession of utensils for methamphetamine.
Police said other charges may be pending.