IRVINE — Three suspected car thieves decided to crash the wrong football game at Irvine High School.
The threesome allegedly drove a stolen car into the school's parking lot Thursday night, unaware that 15 Irvine police officers--including Chief Charles S. Brobeck--were inside the school's stadium waiting to receive an award during halftime.
A brief chase ended on school grounds when officers who were attending the game surrounded two of the teen-agers. The third suspect allegedly fled and tried to sneak into the football game, where he was caught by the police chief. Brobeck said he was heading toward the parking lot to check out the commotion when he ran into the teen-ager.
"I loved it," Brobeck said Friday. "I'd like to go out and get involved more often. That's what the job is all about. That's what we're here for."
The three male juveniles, whose names were not released because of their ages, are students at University High School, said Irvine police Sgt. Dwight Henninger. They were turned over to their parents.
The incident began at 7:40 p.m. when an Irvine police officer on patrol spotted a 1982 Dodge Colt going through a red light at Yale and Walnut avenues.
Police said the officer recognized the 1982 Dodge Colt as one reported stolen in Irvine on Wednesday and followed the car to the school's parking lot and alerted officers by radio inside the stadium.
When the officer tried to stop the car, the 14-year-old driver crashed it into a parked car. The three teen-agers got out and ran toward the stadium, where Irvine High was playing University High School, Henninger said.
Officers detained two of the youths. The third teen-ager was stopped by Brobeck, who was in uniform for the occasion.
"He told me that he was a student who was just trying to get into the game," Brobeck said. "But when I asked him for some identification, he was evasive. I knew he was involved in something that wasn't legal."
After the arrests, Brobeck and the other officers returned to the stadium, where they received plaques of appreciation from Turtle Rock residents grateful for the department's evacuation efforts during the Laguna Beach fire, which threatened Irvine. The fans also honored Orange County firefighters.