What’s gone before: Friday’s coverage
LOOK OUT FOR:
- A LandCruiser, which still has white rims and bullbar, but could bear number plates that include:
- BV70WP (yellow NSW plates)
- ZUE632 (blue and white Victorian)
- YHS085 (blue and white Victorian)
- S415AZL (South Australian black and white)
“We don’t want a shoot out”
SATURDAY 11.30am: Fugitives Gino and Mark Stocco are in the North East with specialist police hot on their heels, police command has confirmed.
Assistant Commissioner Rick Nugent flew into Wangaratta after midnight on Saturday to set up the incident control command after officers officially named the father and son as responsible for ramming a highway patrol car at St James on Thursday.
“They were in a vehicle that we believe was actually the same vehicle that they’d earlier been sighted in, but they’d modified,” he said.
“They’d removed decals, placed an L-plate on it, placed a flashing light on the roof and did a number of other alterations.”
Police members in the manhunt have been posted along back and main roads of country towns.
Assistant Commissioner Nugent said the Stoccos’ knowledge of the area means they are likely to stay, but NSW Police are also patrolling near the border.
He said police received more than 20 calls with sightings of the LandCruiser by the public in 24 hours and discounted most of them.
“When you start looking for white LandCruisers, you realise how many there are out there in the rural areas,” he said.
“This is quite distinctive now, the white bullbar particularly as well as the side rails on the front, white wheels, but we are also mindful that they’ll change to appearance.”
The Stoccos have paid cash when buying petrol, meaning officers would continue to target service stations in the manhunt.
Police fear the Stoccos could enter homes when occupants are away, looking for a car, fuel or supplies as they have been on the run for thousands of kilometres.
They also plan to focus on the Warby-Ovens National Park.
“We are throwing every available resource into locating this pair and safely arresting them,” Assistant Commissioner Nugent said.
“We believe they’re camping out in the bush, they’re trying to stay low to avoid being seen.
“It appears to us they are only going into country towns to get supplies when needed.”
The police special operations group, critical response team, air support, fugitive task force and intelligence remained in Wangaratta on Saturday.
“They are very desperate to avoid capture and as we know from NSW, they shot at NSW police in two police cars, so their full-time job right now is avoiding capture,” Assistant Commissioner Nugent said.
“Part of the challenge for us is the weapon they have - a very high-powered rifle - and we need to do all we can to ensure we protect the public, the police, the community and the fugitives themselves.
“We don’t want a shoot out.”
He asked the public to keep an eye out for the LandCruiser that could change appearance and number plates.
“Whilst we continue to get information and sightings, we’ll continue to have a presence here,” he said.