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SALT LAKE CITY -- Dozens of residents on the east side of Salt Lake City woke Friday morning to find their vehicles vandalized. Police say four people were behind the crime spree and each is under the age of 21. These vandals hit at least 25 vehicles overnight; nine of them were on Elizabeth Street (near 1200 East).
Police say three teenage boys, ages 14, 16 and 17, are behind the crime spree. They also say the group stole some alcohol in another part of town shortly before vandalizing dozens of cars.
During their smash-and-grab attempt near 700 South and 1200 East at 1:20 Friday morning, someone spotted them and called police.
It's a little creepy knowing someone else was in your car.
–- Marlena Lambert
Lt. James Tracy of the Salt Lake City Police Department said, "An officer spotted the vehicle as he was going to the call. He attempted to pull the car over, and it fled from him."
That officer engaged in a short pursuit with the vehicle, but it ended when the driver crashed on 1100 East near 300 South.
Tracy said, "The occupants all fled on foot. Officers responded to the scene, were able to catch one of the individuals as they left, and then our K-9 units came into the area and were able to find two others."
Police believe a fourth person was also in the vehicle, a woman who they say got away. She's the registered owner of the vehicle. Police say she was seen in the area and they want to speak with her.
Police say they are not sure what the motive was behind the break-ins, but they say they left a lot of frustrated victims.
Cameron Greer woke up to find his car broken into by vandals. He said, "From what I can tell, they tried to get the CD player out of it, but it didn't work very well. They just ended up tearing it apart."
The same thing happened to Greer's neighbor Oliver Freij. "It sucks," he said. "Everyone else probably lost some valuable stuff."
Marlena Lambert also had her car broken into. She said,"It's a little creepy knowing someone else was in your car."
Freij doesn't think the vandals' motive was to steal valuables. He said, "They didn't take anything. They didn't take my hockey sticks or sunglasses."
Salt Lake City police Sgt. Robin Snyder said, "They did a lot of damage, you figure the damage to the vehicles and all those items that were taken. We were lucky to catch them."
Residents on Elizabeth Street were happy to hear at least three of the four were caught but are still frustrated with damage the suspects caused.
Freij said, "It's still a bummer. No one wants to go get their car fixed and go though insurance."
"It's never worth it, you know," said resident Sandy Johnson. "They get 50 bucks or something, and you have to spend more than 100 on a new car window, and all the trouble and time to replace your credit cards and driver license."
Salt Lake City police say the three teens could be charged with up to 25 counts of vehicle burglary. They will also face felony fleeing charges and possession of burglary tools.
The 14- and 17-year-old teens will also be charged with retail theft for a beer run the group made Thursday night at the 7-Eleven at 900 West and 900 North.