THREE garda officers narrowly escaped serious injury after thieves unhitched a stolen trailer from their jeep during a high-speed chase in a bid to hit a chasing patrol car.
The three officers were hospitalised -- none with life-threatening injuries -- after a stolen quad bike, power washer, tyres, tools and bars were all hurled at the garda car during the pursuit in Co Tipperary early yesterday.
Gardai were last night hunting for two men who also rammed the chasing patrol car a number of times after their attempts to halt the officers failed.
The drama began at around 1.30am yesterday when a garda patrol car met a blue Isuzu Trooper 4x4 towing a trailer -- with a quad bike and power washer on-board -- on the outskirts of Templemore.
There were three people in the 4x4, which was stolen near Thurles on Thursday, and it failed to stop when signalled.
The vehicle then attempted to take off at high speed through a maze of rural roads.
A man emerged in the back of the jeep and threw stolen tyres, tools and bars at the patrol car.
As the chase continued towards Borrisoleigh, one of the thieves emerged from the 4x4 and unhitched the trailer -- with the quad bike and power-washer on board -- in a frantic bid to crash it into the patrol car.
But the patrol car continued its chase before the thieves turned the vehicle on the road and rammed it into the patrol car on several occasions.
When the patrol car eventually cornered the stolen vehicle, the three thieves attempted to flee through fields. One of the men was caught and was detained by the officers while they awaited back-up.
The three officers were brought by ambulance to Portlaoise General Hospital. One of the officers sustained back injuries, but all three were released yesterday.
The arrested man was last night being questioned at Templemore garda station. Gardai have established that the trailer and quad bike were stolen from a farmyard near Nenagh.
Supt Pat O' Connor is appealing for anyone who has information on the two men who are wanted to contact gardai at Templemore garda station on 0504-32630. He also warned homeowners to be wary of the theft of power tools and home heating oil and diesel.