Manhunt ends in Bealiba with arrest of 34-year-old

By Christie Harrison and Angela Tucker

9.30 pm

After two major manhunts, police have tonight arrested a 37-year-old South Australian man following a series of armed robberies in western Victoria today.

A 34-year-old South Australian man was arrested outside a property on Main Street, Bealiba about 7pm.

It’s understood the man was trying to steal a vehicle from the property at his time of arrest.

The owner of the car was assaulted during the attempted theft and received minor injuries.

The South Australian man is currently assisting police with their enquiries.

Police would like to thank the community for their assistance in helping to locate the man.

5 pm

The police hunt for a man who is believed to have stolen a woman’s car at knife-point earlier this morning has again been scaled back, despite the offender remaining at large.

The search came to a dead-end for the second time today at around 3 pm in Bealiba after beginning in Rathscar before 8 am. The manhunt in the Rathscar area was called off around at 12.30 pm after police failed to locate the suspect despite the assistance of the Police Airwing and canine squad.  The manhunt reignited in Bealiba hours later on the back of new information.

“We have a description of a person of interest who may be able to assist police with their enquiries,” Detective Senior Constable Caroline Blackley told  The Maryborough District Advertiser at 4 pm today in Avoca,

“A male, believed to be from South Australia, in his mid 30s, approximately five foot 10, has an olive appearance and a medium build and was last seen wearing a black and grey jacket and dark blue jeans.

“We’ve been searching around the Bealiba and Rathscar area but we weren’t able to locate him or ascertain which direction he went in.

“He is possibly hitch hiking from around this area but we are unsure where he is going. If you see him please call triple zero or crime stoppers and do not approach him as he may still have a weapon on him.

“This morning at about 6 am a male offender went to an address in Concongella where he approached a women, produced a knife and demanded the keys to her car.

“He then took the car and drove to Rathscar, where he attempted to steal another car from a rural property.

“He was then confronted by the victim, produced a sledge hammer and threatened the victim and asked for the car keys.

“The victim refused to hand over the car keys and the offender got back in the original stolen vehicle and fled the scene.

“He went through some fences and through a rural property before abandoning the vehicle and fleeing on foot.

“He hasn’t been sighted since and we believe he is still around the Rathscar area.

“We believe the same person later went to another address asking for a lift, but there’s been no threats of violence and no items stolen, and the people at the address weren’t able to help him and that was the last sighting that we’ve had there.”

The wanted man is described as being 180cm in height, of a medium build, about 30 years of age and with olive skin. He may also still be carrying weapons.

Anyone who sees the man is encouraged not to approach him and to immediately call 000 as he is still considered to be dangerous.

2 pm

It appears police have focused the manhunt on the township of Bealiba, over 20 kilometres from McArdles Lane, Rathscar where the original search took place.

The Advertiser can confirm the man appeared at a residence near Dunluce and requested a lift from the home’s occupants.  The Advertiser also understands that after a short drive towards Bealiba, the man requested the vehicle to be stopped and he then exited the vehicle on foot.

Police units and the canine squad are now in Bealiba.

12.30 pm

The search for the man has been called-off by police. The offender remains at large.

Police believe the man is no longer in the Rathscar area.

“We’re still on the hunt for him at this stage,” Detective Senior Constable Caroline Blackley said.

Det Sen Con Blackley said the man is still potentially carrying weapons.

He is describe as being 5″10 in height, a medium build with olive skin and approximately 30 years of age.

“The search has been taken from this area. We believe he may be heading towards Melbourne areas, possibly Craigieburn. He may be in a vehicle, we haven’t had any reports of another stolen vehicle as of yet.”

12.00 pm

With the manhunt now stretching past the four hour mark, the Police Airwing helicopter has temporarily left the search to refuel.

Owners of properties where this morning’s events have taken place have also spoken to The Advertiser.

A farmer, who did not want to be named, said it was a concern the man was still at large.

“To the best of my knowledge the bloke is still in the area, so that just worries me that for those of us who live here we have a desperate and dangerous man in the area,” they said.

“He went to a house to steal a car, the owner confronted him and then he (offender) took off in the vehicle he arrived in.

“He drove straight off the road through my fence up to the top of my hill.

“I found his wheel tracks up the hill, he was driving fast, there were a lot of skid marks.

“I haven’t been really close to the car but it doesn’t look to badly damaged.”

The farmer said the vehicle appears to have come to a stop after hitting a number of fences.

“He drove through four fences and got hooked on the fourth fence which is why the car stopped. He must’ve then jumped out of the car and taken off on foot, we don’t even know which direction he went,” they said.

“The helicopter got here just before 10 am so in that 2.5 hours he could’ve walked 10 kms.

“He’s desperate, he needs a vehicle so he’s just going to go to somebodies place until he finds one.

“I’m going home to take the keys out of everything, even the tractors.”

10.30 am

A manhunt is currently underway in Rathscar.

Police have blocked McArdle’s Lane, located around 25 km North West of Maryborough, for the operation.

It has been confirmed that police are investigating following an armed street robbery in Buson Lane, Concongella about 6 am this morning. It is believed a man approached a woman and threatened her with a knife and stole her white Holden Captiva.

A short time later it is believed the same man went to a rural property in McArdles Lane in Rathscar and approached a car, he was then challenged by the owner.

The man produced a sledgehammer and took off in the Holden Captiva.

Police have closed McArdle’s Lane, Rathscar as a man hunt is underway.

 The victim and property owner gave chase and the man dumped the car in the paddocks in McCardles Lane and took off on foot.

It is understood a man fled into the area on foot after dumping the stolen car in nearby paddocks. It is believed the car was abandoned in a creek bed.

The man is described as being in his 30’s or 40’s and wearing dark clothing.

Canine and Airwing are en-route to assist in the search of this man.

Concongella is located 84 kilometres from McArdles Lane, where the operation is underway.

The investigation is ongoing.

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