A man who allegedly cut off his electronic monitoring anklet went on the run from police across paddocks but shied away from swimming the Whangārei Harbour in his bid for freedom and was nabbed hiding in mangroves.
It was the tenacity of a police dog and handler to track through paddocks, bush and muddy mangrove flats for nearly 90 minutes that lead to the arrest of a 21-year-old Northland man.
The drama started with a short pursuit, south of Whangārei near Portland, about 10.40am today.
Senior Sergeant Steve Dickson said officers were making inquiries in the Portland area after a man allegedly cut off an electronic monitoring bracelet and left a property on Friday.
Police spotted a man in a vehicle and after a short pursuit north where the man dumped the car at the popular Lookout site and legged it through paddocks which lead down to mangroves on the edge of Whangārei Harbour, with Limestone Island and Onerahi in the background.
Police dog Mist and handler Elyse Lewis were quickly on scene and tracked through the wet paddocks, bush and eventually to the mud of the mangrove flats.
The police eagle helicopter based in Auckland was unable to fly north and a helpful local had offered the use of his personal chopper to help locate the fleeing man. However, it was not needed.
Dickson said with the help of officers on various high points on Toetoe Rd and along State Highway 1 they were able to help the dog unit hone in on the man.
The police dog and handler tracked for nearly an hour and a half before he was caught about midday.
"It was pretty rough conditions and down into the mud and sludge of the mangroves. It was a massive area on the map that was covered," Dickson said.
Lewis and her canine crime fighter are one of five police dog teams in Northland, and have proven themselves to be the best in the country taking out the top spot at the annual national police patrol championships in Wellington last month.
The combination showed their versatility over the three-day competition and were also awarded the Commissioner's Challenger Cup for obedience and the Monaghan Trophy for heelwork.
A Whangārei man was scheduled to appear in Whangārei District Court today on charges including breach of bail, failing to stop for police, dangerous driving, being an unlicensed driver and refusing to give a blood sample.