A police vehicle has been rammed head on by a stolen SUV.
The police car was deliberately hit at about midnight on Wednesday in Taupo, when the patrol was responding to a report of an unlawfully taken Isuzu. Once the SUV was spotted, the police car activated its lights and sirens.
The driver of the stolen vehicle subsequently pulled over and stopped.
But as the stolen vehicle was being approached by one of the officers it moved away, mounting the kerb.
It then began doing donuts on the grass, before turning in the direction the patrol car, which was still stationery with both officers back inside it.
The driver of the stolen vehicle then drove his vehicle at speed, deliberately ramming the front of the patrol car.
The officers reacted by restarting their now severely damaged vehicle and, with safety in mind, attempted to flee the scene and await support.
As the officers left the scene, the driver of the stolen vehicle started following the police patrol, which was now severely underpowered but sufficiently mobile to stay in front of the offending vehicle.
This lasted a few kilometres when thankfully another Police patrol engaged the stolen vehicle, causing it to flee towards Wharewaka, where the vehicle was lost.
Despite prolonged attempts by Police to locate the vehicle and its driver, the search was abandoned.
During daylight, the Isuzu was found down an embankment at Wharewaka.
No-one was with the vehicle.
Further enquiries were completed by local investigators and uniformed staff and a man was found in a Taupo motel.
A 40-year-old man from south Auckland has been arrested and is facing a number of charges in relation to this incident.
He is appearing in the Rotorua District Court today charged with:
• Assault with a weapon x 2
• Unlawful taking
• Theft ex car
• Reckless driving.
Taupo Area Commander, Inspector Warwick Morehu, has only high praise for the way his police officers handled themselves in this dangerous situation:
“Our officers train and prepare to the highest degree for all situations.
Unfortunately, volatile and challenging situations arise.
However, we trust our staff to make the best decisions to keep themselves safe and also our communities we serve,” he says.
“Our two young officers sustained minor injuries and were shaken by the experience.
Despite this they are fronting again for duty this evening,” adds Inspector Morehu.
The patrol car sustained several thousand dollars’ worth of damage.