RAW VISION: Road scraper's joyride through Canberra caught on camera
Raw vision of a road scraper being driven erratically along Northbourne Avenue in Canberra, shot by a witness using a phone camera. At the end of the clip, the road scraper can be seen going straight through a set of traffic lights.PT1M8S http://www.canberratimes.com.au/action/externalEmbeddedPlayer?id=d-2uciy 620 349 September 24, 2013
A motorist has described as "surreal" the sight of a 30-tonne road scraper being allegedly taken for a joyride through the centre of Canberra, narrowly missing traffic as the driver ran a red light.
Police have arrested a 23-year-old Deakin man in relation to the 20-minute drive from Majura to Deakin, in the allegedly stolen machinery.
Mathew Birkin was driving on Northbourne Avenue behind the scraper when it allegedly ran a red light at the busy Mouat Street intersection.
Police inspect the road scraper, post-joyride.
Mr Birkin estimated the scraper was being driven at between 50 and 60 kilometres per hour.
“As he ran his first red light, narrowly missing traffic at the intersection of Mouat Street and Northbourne Avenue heading towards the city, I realised that something was wrong and called "000" on the van’s Bluetooth,” he said.
“It was being driven at what I would believe the vehicle’s top speed, and the driver looked to be struggling to keep control swerving violently towards any traffic that looked like it was getting close.”
“As he was heading towards the city, the sheer size of the vehicle could easily have caused mass damage had he driven it into the shopping district.”
ACT Policing have said members of the public reported the scraper driving erratically at about 12.25pm, and said the community continued to send in reports, as the road scraper was driven south along Northbourne to Deakin High School where it is alleged damage was caused to the school's oval.
Officers found the driver of the scraper at the high school about 12.50pm, where he was arrested and taken to Canberra Hospital for tests.
An ACT Policing spokeswoman was unable to confirm the nature of the tests. He has since been charged with with taking a motor vehicle without consent, furious/reckless/dangerous driving, property damage, and possessing a drug of dependence, and is expected to dace the ACT Magistrates Court on Wednesday morning.
A separate witness said the road scraper over took his vehicle near Commonwealth Bridge by driving on the green strip and nearly hit people waiting at the temporary Floriade traffic light.
Mr Birkin, a chef from Narrabundah, said he gave the road scraper space as he followed it south towards the city, before the driver turned the machinery left into Cooyong Street, which runs behind the Canberra Centre.
“It was pretty surreal … when you see it starting to swerve, you know to keep your distance – there’s no way something that big should be driven through suburban streets,” he said.
“[He] was jerking all over the place, trying to keep in one lane to begin with, then in the centre of the road.
“If he wanted to drive it into the shopping centre or whatever he could have done a lot of damage.”
The bizarre sight was the second road incident Mr Birkin had seen in two days, after having to brake heavily on Monday afternoon to avoid the three-car accident near the northern entrance to the University of Canberra.
Witnesses or people with information about the road scraper incident have been asked to contact Crime Stoppers on 1800 333 000 or via act.crimestoppers.com.au
Did you see the road scraper as it was driven through the city? Email firstname.lastname@example.org