Three people are now in police custody after attempting to escape police by running out into the mudflats at Hobson Bay.

A police spokesman said an inflatable police boat was used to reach the occupants of a Subaru which failed to stop for a patrol car in Parnell just after 8pm, resulting in a short police chase to Hobson Bay.

The car was then dumped near Shore Rd and the occupants ran into the mudflats nearby in an attempt to evade police, but "they had nowhere to go," the spokesman said.

"They were escorted back to the patrol cars and taken into custody."

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The occupants of the vehicle were arrested for property theft, the spokesman said, and for fleeing when asked to stop by the police patrol.

"The vehicle was wanted in relation to a theft matter."

A helicopter with a search light was flying above the area earlier in the evening and the spokesman said a police boat would be launched to try and coax the people out of the flats.

Local man Michael Holloway said earlier he could see about five police patrol cars parked at the end of Victoria Avenue with several officers standing waiting near them.

"The helicopter is still circling. It appears to be focusing on the Parnell Peninsula now."

Hobson Bay was very tidal, Mr Holloway said, and perhaps and not the most practical place to hide.

"It would be pretty sticky if you got caught out there."