CANBERRA, Australia (AP) — Four children aged 10 to 14 packed fishing rods in a parent’s SUV, left a farewell note then drove more than 1,000 kilometres (600 miles) down the Australian east coast before they were stopped by police the next day after two fuel thefts and one aborted pursuit, officers said yesterday.
When the children were stopped by police near Grafton in New South Wales state at 10.40pm last Sunday, they locked the doors and refused to get out, Acting Police Inspector Darren Williams said. A police officer used a baton to break a window of the 2004 Nissan Patrol, which had been reported stolen by worried parents, Williams said.
Police were not sure which child or children drove or why they left Rockhampton in Queensland state last Saturday. The children are a 14-year-old boy, two 13-year-old boys and a 10-year-old girl.
Williams said they possibly shared the driving.
“It’s a long way, in excess of 1,000 kilometres from Rockhampton down to Grafton. I couldn’t imagine one person actually driving all that way in two days,” Williams told reporters.
The children are suspected of failing to pay for fuel at Outback gas stations in the Queensland town of Banana and the New South Wales town of Warialda, police said.
They were also chased by police in the New South Wales town of Glen Innes, where a 13-year-old was suspected to be driving, Williams said.
“There was a short pursuit up there with the Highway Patrol and due to the age of the driver and the road conditions, that was terminated by the Highway Patrol officers … and the general duties police that were involved,” he said.
The 14-year-old lived in Grafton, which might have been the children’s destination, Williams said.
Banana Truck Stop cashier Harry White said the SUV drove off without paying for diesel at 4.35am last Sunday.