Two shots were fired by police as a handcuffed man made his getaway in a police car last night.
The 18-year-old Murupara man is still on the run this evening, after making off with the patrol car - with a police-issue firearm inside - from Oregon Dr in the Bay of Plenty town around 7pm yesterday.
Bay of Plenty District Commander Superintendent Andy McGregor confirmed two shots were fired at the vehicle as the man drove off in the stolen car. The officer then seized a civilian car to pursue the young man.
Officers were still looking for the 18-year-old Murupara man who stole the patrol car, he said.
The car was found on Gibbs Rd - some 15km away - shortly before 10.50pm that night.
The man was handcuffed at the time the car was stolen, after he had been arrested.
"A police-issue firearm was secured in the car at the time the car was stolen, and was still secured in the car when it was recovered last night," McGregor said.
"While we are still working to establish exact details of what occurred, we can confirm that two shots were fired by a police officer during the incident."
A vehicle belonging to a member of the public was used by an officer to find the police car after it was stolen, McGregor said.
"A review of the incident, which will include the theft of the car and the subsequent response, will take place," he said.
"This was a serious incident and we are very focused on understanding exactly how it occurred and any lessons which can be learnt from it."
Dozens of police and the Eagle helicopter joined the hunt last night, scouring the town and surrounding district for hours before the stolen car was found.
The search is believed to have been hampered by the fact the offender had access to police radio in the car and could potentialy listen in to police communications.
A witness report on social media said: "When you're at the shops and the cop car speeds past but it's not him driving then you see the cop in a truck chasing after his car."