GARDAI were forced to drive at speeds of more than 240kph as they chased a dangerous west-Dublin duo who had stolen a car in Co Cavan during a break-in at a house.
Two men were arrested after the high-speed pursuit, which began shortly after 3am yesterday.
The drama unfolded when officers were alerted to the incident at a house in Ballina.
After breaking into the property, the intruders stole an Opel Astra hatchback belonging to the occupants.
No one was injured in the break-in.
Gardai became aware of the incident when the criminals reached Kinnegad, Co Westmeath.
A major pursuit followed, which involved dozens of patrol vehicles and the garda helicopter.
THE CHASE CAME TO A DRAMATIC END WHEN THE PAIR CRASHED ON THE MOTORWAY NEAR CELBRIDGE, CO KILDARE.
Last night, the two suspects, who are from Ballyfermot, were still in custody at Leixlip garda station.
A senior source told the Herald: "This was a terrifying incident.
"Speeds of more than 240kph were recorded at Enfield during the pursuit. Gardai were determined to stop this crew and they duly did."
He added that charges are very likely to follow.
"This is a great coup for gardai," he continued.
"These two hoods from Ballyfermot have been travelling the entire country carrying out burglaries.
"They are major targets and are responsible for dozens of burglaries which have netted hundreds of thousands of euro in the past two years.
"That's why so many garda resources were put into this operation."
Gardai said the arrests were part of Operation Fiacla, which was set up to target individuals and criminal gangs involved in burglaries throughout the country.
By the end of last November, almost 7,000 people had been arrested during the previous 18 months, according to the latest figures.
Almost 4,000 people have been charged and brought before the courts.