A ride-on lawnmower and a small plane were used to help police capture a man after a three-hour car chase north of Whangarei this morning.
A 26-year-old man was arrested after being found by a police dog following an incident in which four cars were stolen in an attempt to evade police. Another man is still on the run, after managing to escape.
Around 8.45am a stolen car was spotted on State Highway 1, between Puketona and Paihia, following a tip-off from a member of the public. A short time later another stolen car was found nearby.
The two cars took off in different directions, with one found abandoned on Kaipatiki Roadway. A police dog was unable to track the driver, police said.
However, the second car was then found abandoned in a nearby quarry, and a car belonging to a quarry worker was stolen.
It was spotted in the Hukerenui area, but when police tried to flag the car down it rammed into the police car and took off, heading north on SH1.
A small plane, which was in the area, was called in to help spot the car from the air.
As the driver attempted to ditch the car at Motatau School, and steal another from the schoolyard, the school's caretaker tried to stop him using his ride-on lawnmower. But the driver managed to get away, police said.
He crashed around 2km from the school and made off on foot, where he was traced by police dog around 12pm. A man was arrested and charged with the unlawful taking of a vehicle, and is due to appear in the Whangarei District Court tomorrow. Further charges are likely, police said.
The search for the second offender is ongoing.
No police staff or members of the public were injured during the incident, Senior Sergeant Rob Huy said.