Six teenagers with suspected involvement in a string of aggravated robberies have been caught in Rotorua following two late-night police chases that ended in crashes.
The teenagers, two 18, three 16 and one 15 appeared in the Rotorua Youth Court this afternoon each facing a holding charge of unlawfully getting into a motor vehicle while inquiries continued into a range of more charges including aggravated robbery and burglary, Judge Maree MacKenzie said.
She said police continued to urgently investigate the group's suspected involvement in a series of aggravated robberies, ram raids and petrol drive-offs in the Waikato that ended in Ngongotaha.
The teenagers were all remanded in custody to reappear tomorrow . No youth residence beds were available for the teens.
A police media spokesman told the Rotorua Daily Post yesterday the first chase started around 11.10pm on Sunday and involved a vehicle believed to be stolen. The chase ended when the vehicle crashed on Kea St.
The second chase began around 10 minutes later when a vehicle with three occupants fled police. The vehicle crashed on State Highway 5 near Ngongotaha moments later.
Judge MacKenzie said in court it was possible the teenagers would each face additional charges when police finished their investigation.
The chases come as new figures show the number of drivers fleeing police in Rotorua is on the rise.
According to the figures, provided by police, 87 drivers fled in 2015, an increase from 58 in 2010. There were 73 drivers who failed to stop for police between January and September last year.
Figures for October to December were not available.
Officer in charge of road policing Senior Sergeant Nicky Riordan said she would not comment on the figures or reasons for the increase.
Instead she wanted to stress the risks of failing to stop for police.
"The risk is too great for one moment of poor judgement. It is vital when a driver is signalled to stop, they do so.
"A lot of the time the reasons people don't stop is for things like not having the right licence class. In the end, the consequences would be far less that if a chase ensues.
"Nothing could be as bad as killing yourself or somebody else. When a driver fails to stop or drives outside their capabilities there is a risk not only to their life and the lives of their passengers but also the lives of every other road user. It's just not worth it."
Ms Riordan said she could not say how many chases ended in crashes or the reasons people fled police.
Drivers fleeing police:
2009: 54 (April to December)
2014: 53 (excluding January)
2016: 73 (January to September)