The owner of a petrol station in Uppsala, eastern Sweden, called police to report a vehicle had left without paying.
Police subsequently took up the chase after spotting the car on a highway soon after midnight.
The two people, whose identities and gender remain unknown, led the police at high speed through Enköping and further south towards Strängnäs – about 30 kilometres west of Stockholm.
In an effort to stop the thieves, police called ahead to operators at the Hjulstabron bridge, a 520 metre long drawbridge, and demanded it was open as if a boat was passing.
But the thieves either didn't slow down in time, or decided to crash through the barricades in an escape effort, and then drove off the open bridge and into the icy water below.
The bodies of the two thieves were found by divers in the early hours of Tuesday morning. They were stuck inside their car and had drowned.
By Tuesday morning, the car had been removed from the waters of the Hjulstafjärden and the bridge was opened to traffic again.