Manhunt -- Desperate criminal evades police

A MAN is on the run after leading police on a desperate chase through backyards and houses in Murwillumbah yesterday.

The man startled several Murwillumbah residents when he ran through their properties and, in one instance, asked to use a family's phone.

Police said the man, 32, was wanted on four outstanding arrest warrants, leading officers to conduct a gruelling three-hour manhunt around Tweed Valley Way, Smith Street and River Street in the fierce morning heat. It is understood the warrants related to break-and-enter and drug offences.

The man, believed to have been unarmed, fled on foot but managed to avoid police, who scanned the area by car and on foot.

Police searched parkland and residential properties, scaled fences and questioned several witnesses but to no avail.

The unsuccessful officers returned to the Murwillumbah police station just before 11.30am, but Inspector Jago yesterday said police would continue to search for the man. At the time of going to print, the man still had not been arrested.

Residents of Tweed Valley Way said they first noticed the commotion about 8.40am (DST) when they saw a white Toyota Corolla hatchback driving fast along their street.

Police reportedly pursued the vehicle before a man got out and took off on foot.

The man ran through a nearby tractor business and hid in the cane fields behind the old railway lines, and police were forced to call for backup. Soon four police cars were searching the neighbouring streets for the man, who eventually got away.

Uniformed and plain-clothed police officers drove through River Street and Smith Street and searched areas around the South Murwillumbah Public School and Max Boyd Park. Their search took them inside a Greville Street house, believed to belong to a friend of the man, but he was nowhere to be found. The man ran through several properties, including one on River Street, before he was sighted on the back verandah of a vacant Tweed Valley Way house.

Soon after, he was seen on the railway lines behind the Duck Inn general store, but again he was too quick for police. Meanwhile, a woman, who identified herself as the man's "ex", said he had approached her and asked her for a lift.

"He startled me when I saw him because I haven't seen him in ages and he's had his hair cut," the woman said.

"He asked me for a lift and the next thing I knew the police were there, so I asked him if he was in a stolen car.

"I don't know what sort of mischief he's in this time. He only calls me when he is in trouble or needs money."

The man is described as being about 180cm tall with a slim build and a shaved head.

He was wearing a yellow raincoat in the morning, but was later seen to be wearing a dark shirt and cut-off shorts with a stripe down the side.

Police would not release an image of the man.

Inspector Jago said despite all the drama, police did not consider the man dangerous.

"At this time he has evaded police, but we will find him," he said.

Anyone with information should contact police or Crime Stoppers.

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