Three teenage boys have been arrested and a female teenager referred to Youth Aid today following a string of car thefts and drive offs from petrol stations across the South Island.

The boys, one aged 16 and two aged 17, have been charged in relation to the theft of two vehicles, drive offs from a number of petrol stations between Dunedin, Kaiapoi, Blenheim and Reefton and thefts from honesty boxes.

Sergeant Brent Cook of Greymouth Police said the alleged offending started when the group stole a vehicle on Tuesday.

"They then stole a second vehicle after the first vehicle broke down. The group have travelled up the east coast of the South Island to Nelson and then down the west coast of the island before being captured in Lake Brunner," he said.

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The female, aged 14, who was captured together with the three men has been referred to Youth Aid.

The men will appear in Greymouth District Court tomorrow.