It looks as if the Los Angeles Police Department needs to put a better screening process in place for its cadet program.
On Wednesday, two boys aged 15 and 16, and a girl aged 17 who were part of the department's cadet program were arrested after stealing patrol cars, stun guns, and radios from the LAPD, leading authorities in two pursuits that ended in accidents. At least one of the three stolen cars had been missing since May 28.
Authorities say the three teens were able to have access to inventory after using a vacationing sergeant's name to sign the items out before driving away.
According to LAPD's Chief Charlie Beck, both the policies for managing inventory as well as the department's cadet program are now under review.
“We are going to take this apart top to bottom,” Beck told reporters. “We’re going to see what we can do better and we’re going to do it.”
Officials are also investigating whether the mischievous adolescents used the material at hand to impersonate officers and pull drivers over.
LAPD Chief Beck says he's ordered a complete review of the cadet program after three cadets busted in stolen police cruisers. pic.twitter.com/auCtSwesdb— KFI AM 640 (@KFIAM640) June 15, 2017
While the investigation is still underway, officials aren't yet able to tell whether the theft took place recently, as one of the three cars had been missing since last month. Still, officers only grew suspicious after a sergeant noticed that at least one other patrol car had been unaccounted for.
Thanks to surveillance footage, officers then saw a young woman at a gas pump using the car, and on Wednesday, an officer saw two of the three stolen cars riding together. As he attempted to pull them over, they drove away.
The chase unfortunately ended in two crashes, with one innocent bystander in a nearby car being hit and injured. The third stolen car was only recovered after the teens gave officials its location.
So embarrassing https://t.co/fSAefM5PjZ— Patrick Gomez (@Daniel77th) June 16, 2017
Perhaps, what's truly scary about this incident is that the processes used by the LAPD to secure taxpayer-backed inventory can be so easily manipulated by malicious actors. Worse yet, these three teens may have been driving around Los Angeles in stolen cars and with stolen stun guns, putting countless lives in danger for at least a couple of weeks before officers even realized there was anything wrong — not the most reassuring thought.