Lawrence police took four juveniles into custody after they led police on a high-speed pursuit from Lawrence to an area southeast of the Kansas Speedway.
The juveniles, aged 17, 14, 13 and 10 years old, were taken into custody about 10:15 p.m. Friday. Lawrence police Sgt. Mark Warren said the juveniles stole the van from The Shelter, a group home at 1615 Lindenwood Lane.
“They took the keys by force from the staff member,” Warren said. “They immediately loaded up in the van and took off.”
Warren said the staff member wasn't severely injured in the incident, but would have her hand examined at Lawrence Memorial Hospital for a possible injury.
The four suspects, two boys and two girls, stole the full-sized passenger van at 9:33 p.m. Friday, Warren said. They crossed the Kansas River Bridge while fleeing from police.
The van was reportedly traveling 65 mph on North Second Street in North Lawrence before turning east on the turnpike. Police successfully used spike strips to blow out one of the van’s tires before it got on the highway.
As the van entered Leavenworth County, an officer in pursuit reported that one of the van’s tires was completely destroyed, leaving only the rim in contact with the pavement.
Warren said the van drove east at approximately 65 mph to Bonner Springs where it exited the turnpike. The van got back on the turnpike at 10:05 p.m. and was reportedly traveling eastbound in the westbound lane. The van was later traveling eastbound in the correct lane at 10:09 p.m.
An officer reported that multiple tires had been blown by spike strips at 10:09 p.m. The vehicle was then traveling approximately 35 mph, police said.
The suspects drove from Bonner Springs to Interstate 435, where they headed south. They went south to Kansas Avenue before driving into a shallow ditch near 98th Street and Kansas Avenue.
Warren said the Kansas Highway Patrol assisted with the pursuit, as well as Edwardville police, Bonner Springs police and other area agencies. The Kansas Highway Patrol took the juveniles into custody before handing them over to Lawrence police.
Warren wouldn't speculate as to why the juveniles stole the van. The suspects have not been formally charged, but Warren said any charges filed would be "serious."
"The equivalent for an adult would be robbery, to start. There'll be other things as well," he said.