A man who stole a $230,000 high-performance Audi at gunpoint during a test drive in Sydney’s north-east overnight remains on the run after leading police on a series of high-speed pursuits across the city, including through the Sydney Harbour Tunnel.
Dramatic footage captured on a mobile shows a police officer at one point running up to the stolen Audi R8 in Woolloomooloo and striking the driver’s side window several times, before the thief revs the vehicle, drives up the gutter and speeds off.
The erratic car chase lasted for more than an hour and proceeded from Mosman, south-bound through the Sydney Harbour Tunnel to the inner city, then back through the Harbour Tunnel and into the Lane Cove Tunnel.
The stolen vehicle rammed into several cars, including a police car, before police lost track of it near Beecroft.
Police on Thursday morning urged anyone who saw the white vehicle – with NSW registration plates DCL 86X – not to approach it, but to call triple zero immediately.
Superintendent David Darcy, from the Northern Beaches Local Area Command, said police were “reasonably confident” they knew the identity of the thief, who would have been captured on numerous cameras throughout the pursuit.
Superintendent Darcy urged the thief to hand himself into the closest police station.
“He’s not going to get away with it,” he said.
The owner of the sports car, a 30-year-old Balgowlah man, had advertised the vehicle for sale on several car websites a week and a half ago for $230,000.
The owner said the 2014 model in “ibis white” with red seats had driven 25,000 kilometres and had never been taken on a racing track.
Police said the owner was contacted by a “prospective buyer” who arranged to meet him outside the BP service station on Sydney Road in Balgowlah at 6pm on Wednesday.
The pair went on a test drive in the area, with the owner behind the wheel, but when they got to Castle Circuit in Seaforth, the passenger pulled out a gun.
Superintendent Darcy said the car’s owner believed the gun was a Glock pistol.
“The driver has stopped, the offender has come around to the driver’s side, pushed him out of the car and then struck him a number of times with the hand gun, so hard in fact that he fell to the ground and suffered some injuries. The car was then driven off by the offender at speed,” he said.
The car’s owner suffered cuts to his head and, with the help of bystanders, called police. He was taken to Manly police station, where he was treated by paramedics. He was shaken by the “terrifying” incident, Superintendent Darcy said.
Police said a description of the car was broadcast to officers in the area, and the vehicle was seen soon after on Military Road in Mosman. Police began a pursuit.
Sydney motorist Beau Driessen was driving south along Manly Road at that time when he saw the Audi driving erratically behind him.
Mr Driessen told Fairfax Media that the road narrowed to one lane near the Spit Bridge and he pulled into that lane ahead of the Audi, which nearly crashed into his car while trying to overtake him.
“Once across the Spit Bridge, he then sped off, and then a few minutes later I saw a highway police car attempt to pull over the Audi,” he said.
The stolen vehicle then took off down a side street, he said.
“From here on while driving into the city I saw lots of police cars patrolling the area from Mosman to the city,” he said.
Mr Driessen captured the incident on his vehicle’s dashcam, and has provided the footage to police.
Another witness, Luke, said he was jogging along Middle Head Road in Mosman about 6.25pm on Wednesday when the Audi drove past him at well over 100km/h heading north.
The police were not chasing the car at that point, Luke said.
“They would have easily cornered him [if they were chasing] because the road is a dead end,” Luke said.
“[The Audi] came back along Middle Head Road about 10 minutes later after going all the way down to Chowder Bay. Each time it was travelling well over 100km/h and making a lot of noise, lots of high revving gear changes. It was overtaking cars along the way.”
Police chased the car from Mosman through the Sydney Harbour Tunnel and, at one point, the Audi rammed into a car near the Domain car park. Mobile phone vision showed several people standing next to a damaged car with its hazard lights on.
The stolen vehicle then turned and drove back north through the Harbour Tunnel, through the Lane Cove Tunnel, onto the M2 motorway and then onto Pennant Hills Road at Beecroft.
Superintendent Darcy said police were forced to terminate the pursuits several times due to the high-risk behaviour of the driver.
“At times he drove dangerously, and at those times, the pursuit was terminated. And then at times he drove to the speed limit. In each case, we’d re-engage the offending car [in a pursuit] and it was a different scenario completely,” he said.
He praised the actions of the police officer who approached the stolen car and attempted to stop the driver.
“If you knew that someone was in a car with a hand gun, there’s not too many people who would run up and try to stop that … and that makes me really proud,” he said.
The man who stole the car is described as being of Mediterranean or Middle Eastern in appearance with a thin build, possibly aged in his early 20s, with hair that is shaved at the sides and long on the top.
He was wearing a long, black leather jacket, black shirt and pants and white sneakers.