22 Aug 2014
In what could be considered a slowed-down Australian version of “The Dukes of Hazzard”, an apparently intoxicated man driving a stolen forklift led pursuers on a slow-speed chase for several miles before jumping off the vehicle and being captured by police.
The incident began Sunday, August 10, when Chris Ruane was visiting a friend in North Lismore, a relatively rural part of Queensland, about 124 miles north of Brisbane.
According to a distinctively Australian account of the incident in The Northern Star: “He heard an almighty bang and saw Lismore Tractor and Machinery Centre owner Trent Martin’s forklift being driven along the road.”
“I knew it was Trent’s forklift, but I knew it wasn’t one of his blokes driving it, and it had just crashed through the front gates,” Ruane told the newspaper. “So I jumped in the car and started following him slowly and called the police.”
The Chase Is On
The “Mad Max” style road rally continued as Ruane drove behind the forklift thief keeping a distance of about 100 yards so as not to arouse his suspicion. Apparently, our Down Under hero preferred to remain under cover. Meanwhile, he rang up the local constables on his wireless and clued them in on the pursuit.
“I think he might of noticed me, so he ditched the forklift, ran away on foot and I drove up beside him and said, ‘Stop, the police are on the way,’” Ruane said.
Not to be discouraged,the 23-year-old suspect — whose identity was not released — ran off down the side of the Al Magnay Building Materials work yard. Meanwhile, Ruane spotted a group of five teenage boys and let them know what was going on and the boys also joined the pursuit.
“I went around to the next street and he was jumping over a house fence there and I said, ‘Give yourself up, the police are on their way,’ ” Ruane said.
“You’ve Got Me Fair and Square!”
Still not ready to give it up, the suspect hid under a caravan — or trailer, here in the US — where witnesses pointed him out to police when they arrived.
“He came out with hid hands up,” North Lismore police reported on their Facebook page. ” ‘You’ve got me fair and square.’ ”
When police searched the man, they found a quantity of marijuana in his pocket and a half full can of rum and Coke was found on the stolen forklift.
The man was taken to the Lismore police station, where he registered a blood alcohol reading of .108%, according to Lismore Police Det. Matt Kehoe.
The man was charged with mid-range drunk driving, possession of a prohibited drug, driving while disqualified, taking and driving a conveyance, malicious damage, and two counts of entering enclosed lands. He was released on conditional bail and ordered to appear in court next month.
Rodney Bryan, who works as a boilermaker at Lismore Tractor and Machinery, said it was the first time that the business had been broken into.
“Why you’d take a forklift, I don’t know,” Bryant said. “It only does 15 kilometers per hour (about 9 mph).