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Police are crediting new technology in being instrumental in the capture of an offender who could be described as being close to the Waikato's most wanted man following an incident in the District yesterday.
Senior Sergeant Jeff Penno of the Waikato Highway Patrol said two officers out patrolling in a newly introduced Automatic Number Plate Recognition (ANPR) equipped vehicle had no idea where things were going to lead when their device indicated the vehicle in front of them was a car of interest.
"They had been following a southbound Mitsubishi Galant in Huntly shortly before midday when the ANPR device activated indicating the vehicle was linked to an unlicensed driver.
"The officers endeavoured to get the driver of the Galant to pull over but the 'grey haired' man behind the wheel didn't seem to be aware of them. Not too concerned because the car was travelling at a slow speed the officers pulled alongside and indicated to the driver that he should pull over."
Mr Penno said the driver gave a 'thumbs up' and the officers moved their patrol car over to the side of the road anticipating the man would bring his car to a stop.
"But he kept going and when he reached the Taupiri roundabout the driver then accelerated heavily away, under-passing a car as he attempted to flee from Police, accelerating to speeds over 130km/h.
"The driver turned off SH1 on to Old Taupiri Rd as he attempted to give Police the slip. Radioing ahead the officers arranged for Ngaruawahia colleagues to set up road spikes and they were able to do this, deflating the offender's left front tyre as he entered Ngaruawahia."
With his vehicle now crippled the driver then turned back on to SH1 and then on to River Rd before coming to a stop about 50m down the road.
"The man leapt from his car while it was still moving and attempted to flee chasing Police on foot.
"It was while being chased through residential properties and trying to get over a third fence that he was restrained. Imagine our officers surprise when, during the struggle the man's grey hair fell off and they discovered he was wearing a wig to disguise his appearance."
Arrested, the man will appear in the Hamilton District Court today in relation to a warrant to arrest for absconding electronic bail, eight warrants to arrest in relation to possession for supply of methamphetamine and two prison recall warrants.
"In addition the 42-year-old will also face charges of failing to stop, dangerous driving and possession of cannabis. In addition officers are waiting to interview him in relation to nine burglaries involving property worth tens of thousands of dollars which includes the theft of a credit card he is alleged to have used 21 times in one day."
"Last month we highlighted the value of the ANPR device's involvement in getting two repeat disqualified drivers off the road. This time the device has played a pivotal part in the apprehension of an offender who poses a risk not only to other road users but the wider community as well."