A Woonona man wanted for a three-day crime spree of alleged break-ins was arrested after a dramatic morning police pursuit that ended with an officer in hospital.
The 28-year-old man is accused of breaking into homes and businesses, damaging and taking property from vehicles as well as stealing cars from the Austinmer, Thirroul, Woonona and North Wollongong areas over the weekend.
Police will allege the man, who is known to them, stole thousands of dollars worth of property including personal papers and items from cars, and scripts and medication from Thirroul Central Chemist.
Police carried out a search warrant at the man's home in the early hours of Tuesday but did not apprehend the man until about 9.30am in Woonona.
Officers chased the man on foot through bushland and into a creek, where they received scrapes and bruises and one sustained an injury to his knee.
He was taken to Wollongong Hospital, assessed by staff however his injury was not serious.
Wollongong police commander, Superintendent Evan Quarmby praised the actions of the officers.
"What led to this arrest is some fantastic police work," he said.
"The uniformed police put a lot of work into identifying the offender, executing the search warrant, arresting the man and taking him into custody.
"It is a real credit to the police involved.
"They did not stop the foot pursuit of this offender and they followed him into the creek, of course not knowing what they faced going into that area.
"They put themselves at risk to arrest this offender who was wanted for significant offences within this community."
The man was charged late Tuesday with 23 counts of larceny; two counts of break, enter and steal; two counts of take and drive conveyance; two counts of possess prescribed restricted substance; two counts of driving while suspended; dishonestly obtaining financial advantage by deception; escape police custody; resist arrest and breach of bail.
He was refused bail and will face Wollongong court on Wednesday.
Supt Quarmby said: "Police will allege this offender targeted vehicles that were locked and unlocked, targeted business and stole vehicles from the greater Wollongong area," he said.
"It was outstanding police work.
"Their actions were quick, accurate and police were able to carry out their duty in a professional and exemplary manner.
"The message is, if you are a criminal and you want to be involved in criminal activities within this command then expect police to knock on your door."
Supt Quarmby said police would continue to make further inquiries but believed they had arrested the main offender.
"Police will continue to make inquiries in relation to the property to try to get it back to the owners," he said.
The commander reminded residents to report any crimes to Wollongong police station and not on Facebook.