A car stolen out of Westchester that was packed with seven teenage members of a New Haven-based vehicle theft ring rammed a police cruiser in a pre-dawn chase that began in Morris County and ended with another crash at the Willowbrook Mall in Wayne, authorities said.
The seven juveniles captured moments after the crash are part of a crew responsible for dozens of vehicle burglaries and thefts in Morris, Essex, Putnam and Westchester counties (both NY), they said.
Hanover Police Sgts. Paul Gundersdorf and Sgt Anthony Vitanza reported spotting the speeding vehicle exiting onto northbound Route 287 from westbound Route 10 out of East Hanover around 1 a.m. Sunday.
Inside were seven occupants, all between 13 and 17, from the New Haven area, Hanover police said.
The officers tried to pull over the driver. But the vehicle -- reported stolen out of Somers, NY – kept going, they said.
That began a chase of nearly 20 mines, at speeds of up to 80 miles an hour.
The pursuit continued first onto eastbound Route 80, where New Jersey State Police joined the chase.
The thieves pulled off at Exit 53 and the pursuit continued through a few towns, heading along Minnisink Road in Totowa and continuing onto Union Boulevard and Bogert Street, where Totowa police joined in, as well.
The thieves apparently doubled back, heading into Little Falls, where the stolen car rammed a North Caldwell police vehicle.
It then struck a curb moments later near the mall, disabling it, authorities said.
Some of the teens bailed out in front of the Kings Inn Hotel near the "spaghetti bowl" intersection of Routes 46, 23 and 80 in Wayne.
State Police immediately took five of them into custody. Two others briefly remained at large before being captured.
Detectives pegged the group as suspects in at least two motor vehicle burglaries in Florham Park, 15 in Livingston and an undetermined number of others in Somers and in Kent in Putnam County, NY.
All were issued delinquency complaints charging them with eluding, receiving stolen property and possession of pot and drug paraphernalia.
Additional complaints were being drawn up by law enforcement in the various towns they went through, including aggravated assault charges for the police car crash.
All remained held Monday in the Morris County Juvenile Detention Center pending closed-door appearances in the Family Division of Superior Court in Morristown.
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