An Auckland woman was arrested in a Whangārei McDonald's drive-through for allegedly roadtripping through private farmland to evade police checkpoints.
The woman, 33, first appeared in the Whangārei District Court on September 7 charged with theft under $500 and failing to comply with the Covid-19 Public Health Response Act 2020.
She was bailed to a North Shore property and is due to appear at North Shore District Court on September 23.
The maximum penalty for the Covid breach is six months' imprisonment and a $4,000 fine.
The woman was pinged by police inside her vehicle with a companion queued at the McDonald's Kamo drive-through at around 5.50pm on Monday, September 6.
The Advocate understands officers were tipped off about the woman, whose trip north during Auckland's continued alert level 4 was thwarted around 18 hours earlier at a police checkpoint in Warkworth.
Road policing manager Inspector Michael Rickards, of Waitematā Police, said the woman had failed to provide documents to prove her travel was essential when she was stopped at around 11pm on September 4.
"She was warned that she was in breach of the Covid-19 Public Health Response Act 2020 and was turned around."
Rickards said the woman then allegedly drove her vehicle through private farmland to evade police checkpoints and enter Northland in alert level 3 at the time.
The next day while in Wellsford, she reportedly drove off from a Caltex service station without paying for $40 worth of petrol, resulting in a theft charge.
Promptly after her arrest in Whangārei, Rickards said the woman and her companion were tested for Covid-19 and both had returned a negative result.
He said the owner of the private farm land used by the woman to evade checkpoints, and several neighbouring properties, had been spoken to by police to prevent any future incidents.
"Local farmers have been advised to call police immediately if anyone is found to be illegally on their property…"
Police will also carry out patrols in the area to spot anyone attempting the same method to dodge checkpoints.
Rickards said police were unable to comment further as the matter was before the courts.
The most recent police data showed 168 vehicles had been turned around at northern checkpoints between midnight on September 6 and 11.59pm on September 9.
Officers at Auckland's southern checkpoints had turned 386 vehicles around during the same time period.
The total number of vehicles turned back at police checkpoints on Auckland's border formed less than one per cent of the total 58,122 vehicles stopped between those same times.
As of September 8, 21 charges have been filed against 17 people in relation to Covid breaches in Northland since August 17.
Nationally, 204 people have been charged with a total of 219 offences. Of the charges filed, 197 were for offences committed in level 4 and 22 were for offences committed in level 3.
Of these, 146 were for Failing to Comply with Order (Covid-19), 44 for Failure to Comply with Direction/Prohibition/Restriction, 19 for Health Act Breaches, and 10 for Assaults/Threatens/Hinders/Obstructs Enforcement Officer.
Northland police provided 41 warnings to 41 people - 38 in level 4 and three during level 3 - and made two referrals to youth aid during the same period.
They also issued 347 infringements in alert level 4 and 22 during alert level 3. Nationally, there were 3953 infringements issued throughout both alert levels.