27 Jan 2023

Four arrested after carjackings near Palmerston North

3:52 pm on 27 January 2023
A police car

Photo: RNZ / Marika Khabazi

Police have made another three arrests after two vehicles were hijacked during an incident that also involved a firearm in Manawatū.

As police pursued one vehicle and its sole occupant through Palmerston North, the other vehicle was driven towards Bunnythorpe.

Police, assisted by the armed offenders squad, found the trio in Feilding around noon and arrested them without incident.

Manawatū area commander Inspector Phillip Ward said there were now four men aged either 19 or 20 in custody.

"This was a fast-moving, dangerous situation and we are all grateful that nobody was seriously hurt."

The incident allegedly involved the aggravated robbery of two vehicles on State Highway 3 followed by a crash on Ruahine Street in Palmerston North.

"Thankfully, the innocent motorists caught up in the events on State Highway 3 were largely unharmed and we have been providing them with support," Ward said.

While inquiries were continuing, noone else was being sought.

Those charged are due to appear in the Palmerston North District Court on Saturday.

Ward said officers were alerted to a person of interest travelling in a speeding vehicle on State Highway 57 at Aokautere, near the city, about 7.20am.

It did not stop for police and wasn't chased, but was seen 10 minutes later.

That vehicle was stopped using road spikes as it headed towards Ashhurst, as a police car followed at a distance at the legal road speed, Ward said.

The vehicle's occupants - including one believed to be armed - reportedly stopped traffic on the highway to Ashhurst and took two vehicles from motorists.

"Given the immediate threat to the public a pursuit was then authorised," Ward said.

"One of the vehicles was then pursued through Palmerston North for some time, until the vehicle's driving became too dangerous. Police called off the pursuit, pulled to the side of the road and stopped.

"A short time later, the wanted vehicle has crashed as it headed south on Ruahine Street."

Ward said officers found a gun in the crashed vehicle when arresting a 19-year-old man.

The victims of the carjackings were left shaken, and one suffered a head wound.

Ward said police were grateful several members of the public called them via 111 during the incident.

"We have already received a number of photos and videos that will help us piece together what happened.

"We would still like to hear from anyone who may have captured imagery of any of these incidents."

Police can be contacted via 105 quoting reference number 230127/4600.

Information can also be provided anonymously via Crime Stoppers on 0800 555 111.