Echuca "Wet Bandit" won't be Home Alone this Christmas
Two Echuca police officers braved chilly waters on Wednesday to catch a man wanted for numerous firearms and theft offences after he swam across the Murray River to escape Victoria.
Campaspe Crime Investigation Unit Detective Sergeant Barry Gray paid tribute to the work of the pursuing officers.
“No two days are the same for a police officer and this arrest demonstrates how as police, we are always prepared to go above and beyond, and in this case into the murky depths of the Murray River, to protect the community," Detective Gray said.
“These quick-thinking police officers showed no hesitation in jumping into the water to stop this offender - it wasn’t their swimming skills but their calm ability to negotiate with the offender, which ultimately led to his arrest on Victorian soil”.
The officers detected the man behind the wheel of a Toyota Landcruiser around 3:15 pm on Monday, which had been reported stolen from Mitiamo the same day.
They pursued the vehicle along sections of the Murray Valley Highway between Torrumbarry to Wharparilla before deploying stop sticks, which caused one of the tyres on the Landcruiser to deflate.
The driver drove into the Wharparilla Forrest before abandoning the vehicle and swimming about 100 metres across the Murray River. Two officers dove into the water fully clothed, aiming to coax the man back to Victorian soil.
The officers negotiated with him for about 10 minutes in the water, before he agreed to swim back to shore where he was arrested without further incident.
The 35-year-old man from Mitiamo was charged with numerous theft-related, driving, and firearms offences. He was remanded to appear at Bendigo Magistrate’s Court on 8 December 2021.