Wagga police have urged residents not to intervene in criminal pursuits unless absolutely necessary following a string of high-profile 'citizen's arrest' incidents in NSW and Victoria.
Riverina Police District Superintendent Bob Noble said that outside of self-defence situations, citizens should consider whether it was worth the risk of trying to intervene in a criminal activity.
"If there's an option, the best option is always to call the police; we would urge that as the default position," he said.
"I know if you catch someone going through the tool box in the back of your ute there's probably a strong impulse to chase them and hold them down.
"But honestly, is it worth your safety? Is it worth it if they turn around with the biggest spanner in your tool box and wrap it around your head? I don't think so."
Superintendent Noble said citizen's arrest incidents happened in Wagga and the Riverina on a "semi-frequent" basis.
Earlier this month, Sydney residents used chairs and a milk crate to detail alleged murderer Mert Ney, who was allegedly walking the CBD streets with a knife and covered in blood.
This week, citizen's arrests were used to detain one of Victoria's most wanted men in Melbourne and to stop an alleged bank robber in Ballarat.
Superintendent Noble said taking part in a citizen's arrest presented legal risks as well as safety concerns.
"We don't want to find fault with Good Samaritans or law-abiding people defending their own property, but later on they might find themselves in a court or other tribunal having to explain their actions," he said.
"They need to be confident that their actions were reasonable, made in good faith and they didn't do more than was necessary.
"As any police officer will tell you, things can go wrong in a split second."
In NSW, the Law Enforcement Act states "a person (other than a police officer) may, without a warrant, arrest a person if the person is in the act of committing an offence ... or has just committed any such offence".
The use of force in these circumstances is limited to what is "reasonably necessary to make the arrest or to prevent the escape of the person after arrest".