Teens caught in K-9, copter chase

BUFORD -- Two teenage car thieves were outgunned this week when they tried to escape an off-duty officer, search dogs and a police helicopter, authorities said Friday.

The suspects, ages 15 and 16, boosted a 2000 GMC Jimmy from a convenience store at 1945 Buford Highway about 11 p.m. Tuesday. The driver had left the vehicle running while he quickly went in to buy medicine for his mother, police said.

Police did not identify either juvenile suspect.

A uniformed officer working an off-duty security detail nearby responded and located the SUV about 10 minutes later on Old Hamilton Mill Road. The officer trailed and spooked the boys, who parked the vehicle in an industrial complex and ran away, police said.

Police called in K-9 officers and a helicopter unit, finding the boys hiding in a ditch about a mile away, said Gwinnett police spokesman Cpl. Brian Kelly.

The victim was reunited with his truck a short time later. Both boys are facing unspecified charges in juvenile court.

Kelly said the arrests underscore the value of the department's take-home vehicle and part-time job benefits.

"This officer was equipped and able to respond to this matter because he was in uniform and utilizing his marked patrol car," he said.