Armed car thieves led police on a 71-minute car chase all around the Waikato in a stolen Suzuki Swift, attempting to ram patrol cars, with those involved eventually caught hiding behind bushes.

It unfolded about midnight last night when officers spotted the car which been taken from a Ngaruawahia property.

Waikato police Senior Sergeant Pete Simpson said the car was followed as it travelled into Hamilton before one of the trio jumped out of the vehicle on Bankwood Rd, Hamilton.

A man was eventually caught and found with a sawn-off shotgun and ammunition.

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Up to 10 patrol cars were involved in the incident as police to pursued the Suzuki which headed northeast towards Horsham Downs before it headed towards Piako Rd, towards Morrinsville.

It ended up on SH27, between Ohinewai and Tahuna when the vehicle began trying to ram patrol cars. By this stage the police Eagle helicopter was in the air, helping communicate the vehicle's position to the communications centre and officers on the ground.

Spikes were laid and officers pulled out of the chase, but it was the rural road which eventually caught the driver out as he lost control and crashed.

Two people, aged in their 20s, ran off. One was found hiding in bushes while another was lying in a paddock.

One had a warrant for his arrest and the other was a disqualified driver.

The trio will appear in the Hamilton District Court today, he said.

71-minute round trip

* Stolen Suzuki Swift spotted at midnight,
* Passenger jumps out on Bankwood Rd,
* Car heads to Horsham Downs,
* Then heads east to Piako Rd,
* Ends up on SH27 near Tahuna where it crashes.