Riot squad police pursuit in Moree: One man arrested and convicted, one ute still missing after two vehicles were stolen

MISSING: This 2005 model white Toyota Hilux dual cab ute, registration AE87CY, was reported missing from a Mungindi property on Monday night. It was later seen involved in a police pursuit with the riot squad through the Moree township, however the driver managed to get away. Meureka Brown posted this photo of the ute in Mungindi Buy Swap Sell and Free Facebook group in an attempt to locate the stolen vehicle. Photo: Meureka Brown, Facebook
MISSING: This 2005 model white Toyota Hilux dual cab ute, registration AE87CY, was reported missing from a Mungindi property on Monday night. It was later seen involved in a police pursuit with the riot squad through the Moree township, however the driver managed to get away. Meureka Brown posted this photo of the ute in Mungindi Buy Swap Sell and Free Facebook group in an attempt to locate the stolen vehicle. Photo: Meureka Brown, Facebook

One man has been arrested and sentenced to a 15-month community correction order, while police are still searching for another in relation to two stolen white Toyota Hilux utes that were involved in a police pursuit in Moree overnight.

At 9.50pm on Monday, April 15 police received a report of a stolen white Toyota Hilux ute from a Watercourse Road property near Moree.

A short time later, police spotted two white Toyota Hilux utes on the Gwydir Highway, entering Moree from the west.

Police pulled in behind one of the vehicles and followed it into the Tikkerbilly reserve, near Maayu Mali. When the vehicle slowed down a man jumped out.

The 33-year-old Boggabilla man, Thomas Charles Hilton Wightman, was arrested and taken to Moree Police Station where he was charged with taking and driving a conveyance without the consent of the owner.

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He was bail refused by police and appeared at Moree Local Court on Tuesday, April 16 where he pleaded guilty to the charge.

Wightman was convicted and sentenced to a 15-month community corrections order.

Police are still looking for the second white Toyota Hilux dual cab ute - a 2005 model, registration number AE87CY - which was reported stolen from a Mungindi property at about 10.30pm on Monday, April 15.

At about 10.40pm police attempted to stop this vehicle in Moree, which resulted in a short pursuit through the township.

Police stopped the pursuit for safety reasons due to the dangerous manner in which the vehicle was being driven.

The vehicle is yet to be located.

Police urge anyone with information about the driver or the whereabouts of the vehicle to contact Moree Police Station on (02) 6757 0799 or Crime Stoppers on 1800 333 000 or www.crimestoppers.com.au.

The NSW Public Order Riot Squad (PORS), dog unit and Moree police were involved in these matters, which played out during the riot squad's one-day high visibility operation targeting wanted offenders.

In addition to the arrest following the police pursuit, a number of traffic offenders were identified and two people now have pending matters before the courts as a result of the operation.

The riot squad also made a number of inquiries in relation to wanted people, which included doorknocking at four different addresses, including a property in Grace Street Moree.

"In addition to making a number of inquiries in regards to wanted offenders, the PORS crew maintained a high visibility presence around the Moree CBD and township," Moree officer-in-charge Inspector Martin Burke said.

"A number of young people were interacted with and moved on."

One of these was a 12-year-old boy who had been banned from a local business. The boy will now be dealt with under the Young Offenders Act in relation to a trespass-related offence.

Inspector Burke said the operation aimed to send a message to the community that police do have these resources at their disposal.

"It's good to know that we can get the support of specialist units in remote parts of NSW which sends a message to people in the community that they can't hide forever and that we'll bring specialist police in to directly target them and their associates," he said.

Police are looking at conducting similar operations in the coming months.