Moses B. Saxon III said he moved to Baltimore four months ago hoping to find a job and get away from the high crime rate of New York.
He still doesn't have a job, and on Saturday night his car was stolen by three teen-agers whom he felt sorry for and offered to give a ride.
"They looked innocent enough and they said they needed a ride," Mr. Saxon said.
"As soon as they got in, one of them pulled a .45 on me. I thought I was back in the Bronx."
The car theft, which occurred in the 2500 block of Edgecombe Circle, touched off a chase that ended with three police cars damaged in collisions, one injured officer and three arrested juveniles -- all in a mere 10 minutes.
Mr. Saxon, 32, a former Long Island resident, said he hasn't liked what Baltimore has had to offer so far: A depressed economy, shotgun robbers and teen-agers who "go around strutting their muscle like they're the future criminals of America."
Police said that two of the suspects are 15 years old and that the other one is 14.
"I've been kind of surprised to see some of the things going on in Baltimore," said Mr. Saxon, who lives in the 3100 block of Wolcott Road. Other than meeting his current girlfriend, he noted, "It hasn't been that great. I bought a car here, and then someone stole it. I'm ready to move back."
The car, a 1986 Cougar, was returned to Mr. Saxon undamaged. During the robbery, he said, the gun-toting youth also demanded his money, "but I wouldn't hand it over. I was so fed up I just said, 'No, forget it, you're not getting my money too.' "
Police said the three teen-agers commandeered the car about 9:30 p.m. after showing Mr. Saxon a silver-plated handgun that turned out to be a pellet gun.
Mr. Saxon jumped out of the car and ran to Cold Spring Lane, where he flagged down a police wagon that radioed for help.
Five cruisers converged on the stolen car about a mile away on Reisterstown Road near the edge of Druid Hill Park, police said.
One of the cruisers cut in front of the Cougar and slowed down. It was hit in the rear by the stolen car, resulting in slight damage to the police car. The police vehicle then veered into the path of a second cruiser and was hit again.
Police said another patrol car heading for the scene never made it because it ran into the back of another car on Park Heights Avenue.
Meanwhile, the 15-year-old driver lost control of the stolen Cougar on the wet pavement and spun into bushes at a nearby Kentucky Fried Chicken restaurant, police said.
The three young suspects were charged as juveniles with armed robbery and assault. The driver also faced several motor vehicle charges, police said.
The officer whose cruiser was rear-ended by the Cougar, Ronny Hege, was treated for minor injuries at Mercy Hospital, police said.