The favorite car being stolen from Howard County residents this week is the Acura, and Howard police charged three Baltimore teens with driving a stolen Ford Escort to this county yesterday in hopes of upgrading to the more expensive vehicle.
Two 14-year-olds and a 15-year-old -- all too young to drive legally -- were looking for Acuras, police said, one for each youth.
Police said the three stole an Acura Legend from the 6700 block of Quiet Hours in the Village of Owen Brown in Columbia shortly after midnight, then abandoned the Escort and started looking for another Acura.
On nearby Waning Moon Way, police said they spotted them attempting to steal another Acura. When officers blocked the street, the teens ran from the car, leading them on a two-hour search, police said.
Local K-9 units and a Maryland State Police helicopter helped find the youths.
All three teens were arrested, charged with auto theft and released into the custody of their parents.
Acuras were also popular during the past weekend. Thieves stole or attempted to steal four Acuras in Ellicott City and west Columbia, police said.
Of the last 14 cars stolen in Howard County, half have been Acuras, police said.
Teen car theft appears to have become a sport in which a group of youths targets a particular type of car and comes to Howard to steal such vehicles for a day or two of joy riding, said police spokesman Sgt. Steven Keller.
"If you see a kid out driving around after midnight on a school night, he's probably in a stolen car," Sergeant Keller said.
Fifty teens were arrested for auto thefts during the first nine months of this year, seven more than for the same period last year, police said.
Overall, cars thefts for the first nine months were down -- 796 this year compared with 883 for the same period last year.