A man who tried to steal chicken from behind the counter at a Hamilton KFC led police on a prolonged chase through the city.

The 30-year-old is alleged to have jumped the counter at the Greenwood St branch of the fast-food chain at about 7pm yesterday.

He tried to take a tray of cooked chicken before being approached by a member of the store's management staff.

He dropped the chicken and jumped back over the counter, running from the store.

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When police arrived the man got into a car and sped off.

Police gave chase but failed to catch up with the vehicle. They picked up the chase 20 minutes later after the car - a 1997 Subaru Legacy, thought to be silver - was spotted in the suburb of Hillcrest.

Officer brought the car to a stop with spikes, and chased the driver by foot before finally arresting him.

The man was not thought to be under the influence of alcohol or drugs and the vehicle was not stolen.

He has been charged with theft, failing to stop for red and blue-flashing lights and dangerous and reckless driving.

He will appear in the Hamilton District Court on Wednesday.