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Low speed pursuit ends in arrest

Wairarapa police were involved in the pursuit of a stolen 18-tonne front-end loader tractor worth $185k early on Sunday morning that resulted in one arrest.

Wairarapa Area Commander Richard Wilson told the Times-Age the vehicle was stolen from the Masterton Motorplex in Solway.

“They were taking it for a joy ride and possibly to do something more with it,” Wilson said.

“It was reported to police just before 1am on Sunday by local Māori wardens who were out that night.”

Police caught up with the vehicle, and the driver ignored their signals to stop.

During the pursuit, which hit a high speed of around 30km/h, the three occupants of the vehicle were seen throwing bottles out of the window, leading police to believe they had been consuming alcohol.

A few minutes later, the loader was “driven erratically” through a gate at the Solway Showgrounds, although “because the gate was only locked with a chain, minimal damage was done to it”.

“In the showgrounds, we decided to stop our pursuit because it was deemed too dangerous” given “the size and power” of the vehicle, Wilson said.

“The loader stopped inside the grounds, and the three occupants inside the vehicle jumped out and fled on foot.”

A male in his mid-20s was arrested at the grounds and appeared in court for his first appearance yesterday.

Police are still working to find and arrest the two other occupants and have “strong lines of enquiry”.

“We did have a dog unit come over to help, but they were unsuccessful in finding the two others responsible,” Wilson said.

“We are hoping to find them soon.”

Wilson noted it was a serious incident that could have caused significant damage to property or people: “You can’t do too much to stop a vehicle of that size and weight.”

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Freddie Wilkie
Freddie Wilkie
Freddie Wilkie is a journalist at the Wairarapa Times-Age; originally moving from Christchurch, he is interested in housing stories as well as covering emergencies and crime.

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