A 41-YEAR-OLD Singleton man was in custody yesterday on 13 charges after allegedly stealing four motor vehicles, ramming a highway police car and causing a high-speed chase.
Police said the most concerning aspect of the case was that all four vehicles were unlocked with keys in the ignition, one was even left running for Jamie Gardiner to simply hop in and drive off.
“That is the main thing I hope the general community gets from this incident,” said sergeant Bill Langdon.
“I’d strongly urge people not to leave anything valuable in motor vehicles, wallets, handbags, mobile phones and especially car keys.
“I don’t leave my vehicle unlocked, even for a minute when I’m in a service station getting fuel, it’s a good habit to get into.”
Gardiner, of no fixed abode, has been held in custody since arrested at Cessnock Hospital last Thursday and was due to face a bail court in Tamworth yesterday.
The court outcome was unknown at Argus press time yesterday.
The incident began on August 17 when Gardiner took a Holden utility from Singleton’s Betta Electrical store car park on August 17.
He refuelled it without paying at a Cessnock service station and on August 19 returned it to the Betta Electrical car park.
On August 28 he stole a second Holden utility that was left running outside a Cliff Street, Branxton, real estate agency.
He refuelled it without paying at a Singleton service station and abandoned it at Cessnock.
On September 9 he stole a Ford Ranger four-wheel-drive from George Street, Singleton, and six days later was spotted in Singleton’s McDonald’s takeaway food drive-through.
Police parked their car near with the intention of speaking to the driver who then accelerated into the front of the police car and raced off.
The damaged car, plus three other police vehicles were then involved in a chase that reached speeds over 130km/h down Howe, Boonal and Queen streets before the four-wheel-drive was abandoned at Mirannie and Gardiner ran off.
On September 17 Gardiner stole another Holden utility at a Singleton service station which he crashed at Pokolbin before being arrested at Cessnock Hospital last Thursday.
In addition to being charged with stealing the four vehicles, Gardiner also faces charges of twice stealing fuel, driving while being disqualified, ramming a police car, reckless driving, possessing prohibited prescription drugs and stealing almost $360 from a wallet in one of the vehicles and two purses he stole at Singleton Library.
A white powder, found in one of the vehicles, and suspected to be drugs has been sent off for chemical analysis.
Sergeant Langdon said it appeared Gardiner used stolen vehicles as temporary accommodation and transport throughout the region.