Spotlight on police pursuits in the Hunter after trail of destruction in Lake Macquarie

FRUSTRATED authorities have slammed lead-footed hoons who “risk it all” by fleeing police.

It comes after a wild chase in Lake Macquarie on Tuesday that ended with three damaged cars and a school oval torn to shreds.

Hundreds of motorists witnessed the police chase that began in Belmont about noon and finished at Rankin Park with the ute dumped on the side of the road and four teenagers attempting to run away.

Only the morning after that incident, a driver in an allegedly stolen car failed to stop for police at Windale.

That pursuit ended with the car crashing into a wall about 2am and a 15-year-old girl facing serious charges. She will front a children’s court.

According to the Newcastle Herald’s count, police in the Hunter have been involved in at least one pursuit a week since the start of the year.

WORSE FOR WEAR: The ute was stolen from a Cardiff home before the occupants led police on a chase through Mount Hutton, Belmont and Rankin Park.

WORSE FOR WEAR: The ute was stolen from a Cardiff home before the occupants led police on a chase through Mount Hutton, Belmont and Rankin Park.

Most have taken place in Lake Macquarie and the drivers are almost exclusively male.

Evading police (Skye’s Law) carries a maximum sentence of five years.

“Generally, they don’t want to be caught for a prior crime, but often the penalty for police pursuit is more than the original offence … I don’t know why they choose to run,” Northern Region highway patrol Acting Inspector Chad George said.

“They risk it all – they are a danger to themselves, a danger to police and a danger to the community.”

Belmont Christian College assistant principal Steve Tidey said children were moved to safety on Tuesday morning as the driver started to perform doughnuts on the school oval, causing “significant” damage to the turf.

The driver, 18, is then alleged to have hit speeds of up to 140km/h as he raced up the Pacific Highway before colliding with Mel Smith’s uninsured four-wheel drive.

“In a split second they smashed into the back driver’s side window,” she said on Wednesday. “You could see the people in the car … they were so young, just kids.”

She added: “We’re without a car and we don’t know what to do now. On reflection, it could have been so much worse.”

Two occupants of the car, the driver and another passenger, 17, were charged and will front court later this month. Two girls, 16 and 14, will be dealt with under the Young Offender’s Act.

 SCENE: An allegedly stolen Nissan Nivara is left abandoned on McCaffrey Drive in Rankin Park. Four people fled the ute on foot after a police pursuit.

SCENE: An allegedly stolen Nissan Nivara is left abandoned on McCaffrey Drive in Rankin Park. Four people fled the ute on foot after a police pursuit.

Vehicle theft has become a major issue in Lake Macquarie, and hotspots include Windale, Mount Hutton, Gateshead and Charlestown.

Lake Macquarie commander Superintendent Danny Sullivan said police were regularly patrolling trouble spots but residents needed to put in place their own strategies such as locking car doors and securing car keys.

He said the thefts were mainly being committed by young people.

“It’s not a problem that we can arrest our way out of, but something that requires a whole-of-community approach,” Superintendent Sullivan said.

“We have services available to assist young people escape this level of criminality.

“If family are concerned, please get in touch.”

Pursuits in the Hunter

Yesterday – 15-year-old girl to face a children’s court after failing to stop for police at Windale

Tuesday – Four arrested after pursuit begins in Belmont

March 8 – 18-year-old man arrested after pursuit begins at Cardiff Heights

March 1 – 28-year-old man arrested after pursuit begins in Belmont

February 17 – 18-year-old man arrested after pursuit begins in Redhead

February 1 – 27-year-old man arrested after pursuit begins in Edgeworth

January 30 – 24-year-old man arrested after pursuit begins in Speers Point

Australia Day – 20-year-old man arrested after pursuit begins in Singleton

January 23 – 23-year-old man arrested after pursuit begins in Wallsend

January 2 – 31-year-old man arrested after pursuit begins in Wallsend

December 21 – 22-year-old man arrested after pursuit begins in Wallsend