A firearm and ammunition was discovered in the boot of a stolen Ford Mustang car involved in a police pursuit and a second weapon was found with a man hiding in the bushes just 20 metres away from officers.
Police revealed the frightening discovery after the trio were in custody following the chase that started in Whangārei and ended nearly 64km away on State Highway 1, south of Kaiwaka yesterday.
Carefully placed police spikes at Kaiwaka was enough to puncture the front two tyres, causing the tyres to shred as the vehicle headed south.
After driving on rims for a short distance the driver was forced to stop on Schiska Rd, Topuni, leading into a forestry block about 9.10am.
Northland police Inspector Al Symonds confirmed two firearms and ammunition had been found and three people had been arrested.
A police dog and handler with the help of the Auckland-based eagle helicopter were able to track the man who had fled when the vehicle then hid from police.
The drama began in Whangārei when officers spotted the late model ruby red Mustang on Kioreora Rd and signalled for it to stop about 8.20am.
Symonds said the driver lead police through streets in Morningside just as parents were dropping children to school.
Annoyed parents took to facebook to post about the incident with one of them saying: "Cars had stopped at the crossing for the kids to cross when he just went around them".
Morningside School crossing monitor Sarah Farmer said the incident happened about five minutes before the school patrollers began.
"Plenty of the kids saw the red car and the following police cars on their way to school," Farmer said.
"It would be my worst nightmare for one of them to be hit."
The car was reported stolen by its Kawakawa owner just as the Mustang was spotted by police.
The driver, with two passengers, was last seen on Hilltop Ave before giving the police the slip. The pursuit was abandoned and police started to search for the vehicle.
The Mustang was then spotted near the roundabout with Port Marsden Highway and an officer followed behind with no lights and sirens.
Symonds said the pursuit began again on the southern side of the Brynderwyn Hills, with spikes being laid out in Kaiwaka. Two tyres were punctured.
With the help of police who responded from the Waitemata area two people were arrested. The third was spotted by officers in the helicopter.
Late yesterday police were interviewing the trio, a woman and two men, who would appear in Whangārei District Court today on various charges.
Symonds said fleeing drivers in Northland were more likely to come under police scrutiny from the sky with the eagle helicopter to be used more often.
"Don't be surprised if you see eagle here more often as police utilise it for fleeing drivers."
The latest police statistics show Northland tops the number of pursuits per month with 8.67 per 100,000 people, followed by Bay of Plenty 7.81 and Counties/Manukau 7.67.
When a pursuit begins it is immediately lodged with the communications centre, which takes control of the decision-making based on information from not only the police driver, but any passengers, secondary vehicles and field supervisors.
Any of them can stop the pursuit if they believe it has become too risky for anyone involved. More than half of all pursuits are abandoned, many of them only seconds after they begin.