Michael's Dispatches

Man-tracking Success in Australia

image013-1000First spore

After the initial boot scuffs we continued to locate spore until we discovered a perfect boot print amongst bushland not far from the river bank.  It looked to be approximately a size 7 and was different to the Police boot prints we had found in the area.  We were confident that this particular print was likely to be from Stenberg so the NT member attempted to gain communications to pass on the information and arrange for forensic officers to attend.  Due to our remote location he was unable to establish clear communications so it was decided that he would return to our vehicle with one of our members to convey the message.

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It was at this stage in our patrol that we consolidated and discussed the situation whilst waiting for the return of the remaining 2 members. It was later discovered that Stenberg was hiding on the waters edge behind a very well constructed bush screen that was only approximately 5 metres from some of our members.  There were no tracks into or out from his hide and we later learnt that he had been using the waterways for all his movement after the initial move across land.

After approximately 20 minutes the other 2 members returned and we continued following the spore toward the bridge.  We later discovered that Stenberg had moved across land to the bridge and at one point even moved up to the road to see what was going on.  He then returned to his bush hide by walking through the shallows of the river.

Near the bridge one of our members located a black Tikka rifle in approximately 70cm of water (This rifle was later proven to be unrelated to Stenberg).  After locating this rifle we were then required to wait at that location for forensic officers to attend.  The Tactical Commander was contacted and he arranged for forensic members to retrieve the rifle and also gather evidence at the boot print location.

Some other officers arrived including a NT TRG tracker and forensic officers.  One of the forensic officers was lead to the rifle in the river and the other was lead along with the NT tracker and another NT officer to the location of the boot print.  The forensic officer at the boot print location began processing the scene and the tracking team were told to continue tracking from the last known spore under the bridge.

The forensic officer at the boot print site was later left by himself whilst other officers remained near the road.  This forensic officer was not wearing body armour or carrying a firearm.  Whilst taking photographs and measurements of the boot print the forensic officer saw movement near the river (It was later learned that this was from Stenberg shivering uncontrollably as he had spent a large amount of time hiding in the water).  The forensic officer pretended that he was there with someone else and said he was going to get additional equipment.  He casually walked away and then once out of sight ran to the road to alert other officers.

Officers immediately called over the radio that there had been movement in the bush and subsequently the helicopter moved to the area.  TRG officers moved to the location in company with the forensic officer and on approach they still couldn’t see anyone behind the bush screen (One officer was within a couple of metres but couldn’t see Stenberg).  As they closed in on where the movement had been seen, an officer in the helicopter gave directions to something that looked out of place.  TRG officers moved the bush that had been screening Stenberg and located him lying by the river.

He was apprehended without incident and had a loaded pistol in a holster with him.  There were two other pistols, a hunting rifle and a large quantity of ammunition located hidden in bushes several metres from him.  Stenberg was also equipped with a thermal monocular.  He was aware of methods to evade detection from thermal imaging and submerged himself in the river at times when the helicopter passed over or when he heard movement in the area.

Overall the Tracking Team was in the area for almost 8 hours prior to Stenberg’s apprehension.

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image019-1000Weapons found in Stenberg's bush hideout

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