Four of the five teenage boys nabbed after a stolen car crashed into cows while fleeing from police were on bail for allegedly trying to smash their way in to a Kaikohe service station just days earlier.
Three cows had to be put down on Thursday morning after they were hit by the fleeing car near Ohaeawai in the Mid North.
The car kept going but crashed a short distance down the road. All five youths in the car, aged 14 and 15, were caught. Three were nabbed at the crash scene, one was found in the boot of a car as someone tried to smuggle him out of the area, and the last was tracked by a police sniffer dog.
The car, a Toyota Starlet, had been stolen in Okaihau on Wednesday night. It was reported driving dangerously just north of Whangarei about 8am on Thursday then spotted by police at Ohaeawai half an hour later.
Inspector Al Symonds, acting area commander for Far North police, confirmed that four of the five youths had been charged with wilful damage in relation to last Friday night's incident at Mobil. They had appeared in the Kaikohe Youth Court and been granted bail.
They were held in custody on Thursday night and appeared again in the Youth Court yesterday. While they were still before the court he would not comment on whether police would seek to have them kept in custody.
The fifth boy, who was not facing charges from the service station incident, had been released into the custody of his family and referred to Youth Aid.
So far seven youths had been charged with wilful damage of the service station.
"I'm fairly confident we've broken the back of these issues," Mr Symonds said.
Police would have an increased presence in Kaikohe over the next two weekends. In the meantime they would be looking at the way staff were deployed across the Mid North.
They would also be seeking reparation on behalf of the farmer and the car owner.
Meanwhile, the young woman who owned the Starlet said the theft had caused huge inconvenience and financial stress.
The owner, who did not want her name used, said she and her husband depended on the car to get to work in Kerikeri. They were now borrowing her father's car, which was a great inconvenience to him.
The theft had "completely and utterly" ruined their financial situation, she said.
The couple, aged in their 20s, worked hard to make ends meet and lived on a tight budget. They had just filled up the car with a week's worth of petrol, using the money they'd hoped to spend on a treat this weekend. The car, called Jellybean, was not yet paid off and was not insured.
She was studying, volunteered at an op shop, had a part-time job and a small business, while her husband worked full time. He was angry but she felt a mix of emotions.
"I feel sorry for everybody involved - a bit of a pity-party for myself, but I also feel sorry for the farmer, the children themselves and their families. It can't be easy for anyone."
However, she hoped the youths could experience "some of the chaos we are going through".
A lot of people were blaming poor parenting but she believed a myriad of issues were behind youth crime in the Far North. The whole community, as well as government and schools, had a part to play in the solution.
She was grateful to everyone who had offered help.
The thieves had to go through three gates to steal the Starlet. Items of sentimental value were taken along with the car.