IT WAS the perfect getaway car for two of the country’s most wanted criminals at the centre of a tri-state search.
An unlocked fully-fuelled ute with keys in the ignition is believed to have been stolen from a Holbrook property by father and son Gino and Mark Stocco, who are still on the run after opening fire at police near Mangoplah on Friday afternoon.
The armed duo, who have been on Australia’s most wanted list for eight years, led police on two high-speed pursuits across the region, before dumping a stolen car near Kyeamba Creek Friday night and fleeing from police on foot.
As police launched a major air and land search of the area, the experienced bushmen cut their way through property fences heading south before making the brazen move to steal their next getaway car from a cattle stud, about 18km north of Holbrook.
Owner Paul Rogers woke on Monday morning to the shock his 2013 white Toyota Landcruiser ute was taken from his Four Mile Lane property.
“It was parked in the garage (50m from the house) with the keys in it,” he said.
“I’m annoyed I’ve lost my ute. To make it worse, it had two full tanks of fuel. It was the perfect getaway car.”
The duo also targeted food and drink in another nearby shed. The ute was stolen between 7pm Sunday and 8am Monday, when Mr Rogers reported the incident to Albury police.
There were unconfirmed sightings of the pair at a Euroa service station about 7pm Monday night
Police believe the car is still in the possession of the Stocco’s, who are already wanted for arson, assault and malicious damage.
Wagga Superintendent Bob Noble said local police would focus attention and resources on this latest inquiry, after downsizing the physical search on Saturday night.
Investigators are appealing for people to keep vigilant and report any fuel theft or sightings of the ute, bearing distinctive white bull bars, a 145l fuel tank and NSW registration plates of BV70WP.
Contact triple-0 with any information on the search.