March 7, 2008 / 4:49 PM / 10 years ago

Man takes car on 2,000 mile test drive

CANBERRA (Reuters) - An Australian who took a new car on a 3,200 km (1,988 mile) six-day test drive from the city to the outback has been arrested, police said on Thursday.

A man walks past Honda Motor Co. cars at a showroom in Tokyo January 30, 2008. REUTERS/Michael Caronna

The 30-year-old convinced a car dealer in the southeastern city of Melbourne to lend him a A$40,000 ($37,000) Honda Accord sedan last Friday and drove the equivalent of London to Istanbul before he was arrested near the town of Tennant Creek, deep in the outback of the Northern Territory.

“He drove from Melbourne to Adelaide to Alice Springs,” Tennant Creek police Constable James Gray-Spence told Reuters.

He said the man was arrested without incident at a road block on his way north to Darwin after he failed to pay for fuel at a hamlet.

The test drive was the longest known to Australian police and topped a 500km theft on New Zealand’s South Island in 2006.

“I think we’ve topped that with the 3,000 km mark,” Gray-Spence said.

Melbourne car yard owner Ian McKenzie said the man would have had to have been in the car all day, every day to reach Tennant Creek.

“He seemed a legitimate gentleman. He stood at the desk right in front of a camera. He wasn’t afraid of being photographed or videoed,” McKenzie told the Herald Sun newspaper.

The man was charged with aggravated unlawful use of a motor vehicle and unlawful possession of property and will appear in court on Thursday.

Reporting by Rob Taylor, editing by Jonathan Standing

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