Three cows have been put down after they were hit by a group of teens fleeing from police in a stolen car.

The drama began just before 8am yesterday when police received a complaint about a Toyota Starlet driving dangerously on State Highway One at Kauri, north of Whangarei.

The vehicle, which had been stolen from an Okaihau address overnight, was heading north.

About 8.30am police spotted the car south of Ohaeawai, 10km east of Kaikohe, and chased it when the driver refused to stop, acting Far North area commander Inspector Al Symonds said.

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The fleeing driver turned onto Hariru Rd, where he crashed into three cows being moved across the road by a farmer.

The police officers immediately abandoned the pursuit to tend to the injured animals and help the farmer, Symonds said.

The driver kept going but crashed a short distance down the road. The occupants fled on foot but another police unit managed to catch three of five young men.

When officers stopped a car seen leaving the area a short time later they found a young man hiding in the boot.

A dog handler and his dog found the last alleged offender soon after. Police who stayed with the injured cows called a vet but the farmer was able to euthanise them quickly and humanely, Symonds said.

Five youths, three aged 15 and two aged 14, were expected to be held in custody overnight and to appear in the Kaikohe Youth Court today.

Police are supporting the farmer and will seek reparation on his behalf for the loss of his stock.

Yesterday's chase is likely to further focus attention on youth crime in the Kaikohe area.

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