A 12-year-old boy who drove 1300 kilometres across NSW on his own in the family car was involved in a bingle before he was eventually stopped by stunned highway patrol officers.
The boy was en route to Perth when he was pulled over at Broken Hill in far west NSW on Saturday morning - some 1300 kilometres into his journey.
He had earlier left his home in Kendall on the state's east coast about 11.10am on Friday.
The diesel-fuelled Mazda CX-3 he was found driving had earlier been reported stolen from Kendall.
"He'd taken the family car," Detective Inspector Kim Fehon said. "His parents reported him missing immediately after he left home, so they were looking for him." Officers are still investigating why the boy took the car and attempted to cross the country.
Highway patrol officers stopped him at Broken Hill about 11am on Saturday after they noticed the car's bumper dragging on the ground.
The boy pulled into the Caltex service station at Cobar, topping up his fuel to the tune of $19 and drove off without paying just before 6am on Saturday morning.
Manager Vamshi Reddy said the boy, captured on the store's CCTV system, looked a lot older than twelve so the attendant did not shut off the pumps when he arrived.
The car had suffered some damage, Det Insp Fehon confirmed. "So it appears (the boy) did have an accident while driving," she said. The boy was arrested and taken to Broken Hill police station before being released to his distressed parents.
The family are expected to arrive back on the state's mid north coast this afternoon, with the boy to be questioned by local detectives there.
It's likely he'll be charged under the Young Offenders Act over three offences including failing to pay for petrol and driving without a licence.
Some people on social media have praised the illegal driver's efforts, calling him a "pretty clever kid" who deserved a "gold star for effort". "Clearly he's a top driver. No ticket in 1300km," Lou Steer wrote on Facebook. But Det Insp Fehon says the boy should not be commended.
"Not only was the child's life at risk but all the people he went past and came in contact with," she said.
"He was lucky he had an escape (after his accident).
"But so did all the motorists on the way from Kendall to Cobar. They all had a lucky day as well."
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