Police forced a car thief off the highway in Blaine, sending the vehicle rolling in a crash that caused a major traffic backup Monday that lasted throughout the morning commute, according to authorities.

The incident began about 5:30 a.m. when police were called to the Walmart off NE. Ulysses Street about a man "wandering through the parking lot looking into vehicles," said Police Capt. Mark Boerboom.

Officers soon learned that a vehicle had been stolen, Boerboom said. Police spotted the vehicle, and attempts to stop it prompted the driver to flee, the captain said.

One officer used his squad car to force the driver off southbound Hwy. 65, sending the stolen vehicle rolling, Boerboom said.

Three occupants in the vehicle were taken to local hospitals with minor injuries, police said.

The southbound side of the highway remained closed until about 9 a.m. as authorities investigated the crash and removed the damaged vehicle.

Paul Walsh