Three teens enrolled in the Los Angeles Police Department cadet program were arrested Wednesday on suspicion of stealing three police vehicles, two stun guns, two radios, and a bulletproof vest, the Los Angeles Times reports. According to KTLA, officers noticed two cruisers missing around 5pm and found them driving together more than four hours later. The stolen cruisers split up, leading police on two chases that ended in crashes. Two male cadets and a female cadet—between the ages of 15 and 17—were arrested, KABC reports. Chief Charlie Beck says the cadets "may have impersonated" actual officers and is asking the public to come forward about any "activity being conducted by very young-appearing" cops.
Police say the cadets, who are not allowed to drive cruisers, signed the vehicles out using the names of officers. A third vehicle believed to have been stolen by the cadets may have been missing since last month. Thousands of teens have gone through the LAPD cadet program, which has been touted as a success for developing life and leadership skills. Cadets get training and learn about police work before being given an opportunity to volunteer with officers at baseball games and more. Beck has ordered a review of the program in the wake of Wednesday's police chases. “These knuckleheads crippled a program that a lot of people depend on,” one officer tells the Times. “It’s sad.” (Read more Los Angeles Police Department stories.)