Crash scene raises suspicions
Imprints of an upside down 4WD have been found at the bottom of a four-metre drop beside a river in Marlborough.
Police investigating the whereabouts of the vehicle believe its driver may be connected to a theft of a digger at a nearby concrete plant - which was probably used to pull the 4WD back onto its wheels.
The front loader was stolen from Firth Industries Blenheim, off State Highway 1 north of Spring Creek, between 5.30pm yesterday and 6am today.
Firth Industries site supervisor Fred Temple said he arrived at work about 6am to find a front loader parked in a different spot with its cab lights on. He didn't think much of it until he got to the office and saw a window had been smashed.
A colleague came across tyre marks at the top of a slurry pit about 100 metres from the office. It appeared the culprit stole keys from a cupboard in the office and hooked the loader to the 4WD to pull it out of the ditch.
''When I saw the smashed office window, I was pretty upset,'' Temple said.''But then to come here and find this, I was thinking someone might be seriously injured. To go over that drop, there'd definitely be a stop at the bottom.''
Whoever stole the front loader would have needed some knowledge of how to drive one, he said.
Marlborough crime prevention team member Senior Constable Al Hendrickson conducted a crime scene examination today.
He believed at least two people were in the 4WD which headed up the road that runs parallel to the Wairau River.
''They've come over the top not knowing where they were going, and driven off a vertical drop,'' he said.
Imprints in the dirt indicated the 4WD landed on its roof. Broken glass suggested a window had shattered with the impact. It was also likely the vehicle had a snorkel fitted to it, Hendrickson said.
Paw prints belonging to one or two dogs and two dog leads were also found at the scene.
It was not illegal to drive along the river road, but breaking into the office and stealing the front loader was, Hendrickson said.
''We're appealing to a mum or dad who may know something,'' he said.
''The vehicle is going to come home covered in mud with damage to the roof. The driver might also be a bit sore.''
Anyone with information is asked to contact Blenheim police on 03 578 5279 or call Crimestoppers on 0800 555 111.
The Marlborough Express