A quartet of young car thieves – including two teenage boys who cut off electronic ankle bracelets – are back in police custody after creating havoc on Winnipeg streets.

Police said the two boys, both 16, and two girls, aged 16 and 17, were responsible for a spree of car thefts around the city in recent weeks. At one point, two police cruisers crashed into each other chasing the teens, resulting in four officers being sent to hospital.

The boys cut off their electronic monitoring bracelets sometime in the first week of November, police said. They joined up with the girls, who were also high-risk offenders.

Members of the group in various combinations allegedly stole several vehicles.

Winnipeg Police Service Sgt. Doug Safioles said the teens likened stealing cars to a real-life video game.

"They all play the game, they talk about the game, they tell their probation officers it's a game," he said. "It's a huge rush. They taunt the police on purpose to engage in chases."                     

Police said the teens were likely involved in more than 60 per cent of the recent auto thefts in the city. One of the boys has 75 prior theft convictions.

The four were arrested Tuesday morning and face 80 charges, including possession of stolen goods, theft over $5,000 and dangerous driving.

Last April, Manitoba began placing electronic ankle bracelets on high-risk car thieves.

The one-year project is part of the Winnipeg Auto Theft Suppression Strategy, and is pegged at a cost of $300,000.