Police believe an escaped Unanderra inmate fled Mount Keira Scout Camp on Wednesday, caught a taxi and met his girlfriend in Liverpool.
Wollongong police have issued an arrest warrant for 35-year-old Sunjay Dayal after he absconded while doing maintenance jobs on work-day release.
Dayal, who was with nine other inmates, was present at the 10.30am muster but went missing at the 11.50am muster.
He was supervised by one Corrective Services officer from the Illawarra Reintegration Centre.
Wollongong crime manager Detective Chief Inspector Brad Ainsworth said Dayal, who is serving a one year and three month sentence for assault, was last seen in Liverpool.
"We believe he is with his defacto partner, a 39-year-old female from the Liverpool area," he said.
"He was last at a Liverpool motel and now he is gone."
Police believe Dayal walked down from the Mount Keira Scout Camp, found a house and a called for a taxi.
Det Insp Ainsworth did not know how Dayal paid the $200 cab fare in cash.
He said Illawarra Reintegration Centre protocol meant inmates on work-day release were put on a bus and were unaware where they were going until they were enroute.
"I would not say [the escape] has been pre-planned," Det Insp Ainsworth said.
"I'm not here to judge or comment on the [corrective service] procedures.
"[Dayal] was classified as low-risk. The facility is for reintegration.
"[Inmates] are up there working with volunteers and for whatever reason he has walked off."
A Corrective Services spokeswoman said "the safety of the community is paramount".
"All escapes are unacceptable and Corrective Services NSW comprehensively investigates each one," she said.
Police have not issued an arrest warrant for Dayal's partner.
"They are both subject to an apprehended violence order," Det Insp Ainsworth said. "It is current and enforceable."
Dayal, who is deemed low risk, went into custody on February 22, 2019.
The Illawarra Reintegration Centre inmate has since served his time at multiples correctional institutions.
Dayal is eligible for parole in January 2020, with his sentence expiring in May 2020.
When asked whether he believed Dayal was a danger to the community, Det Insp Ainsworth said he was an escaped felon with a "vast and colourful history".
He warned members of the public not to approach Dayal, but if they see him they should call Triple Zero (000) immediately.