Manhunt in Bendigo for wanted men: Aaron Burzacott, Jordan Smith and Ashley Backer

UPDATE FRIDAY 7am: The three men are still wanted by police. Read details about each man here.

UPDATE 6.45pm: Police are searching for three “dangerous” men whose erratic driving in stolen cars is putting people’s lives at risk.

Aaron Burzacott, Jordan Smith and Ashley Backer are wanted by police for a range of offences in the Bendigo area.

A large manhunt was sparked on Thursday afternoon when Mr Backer was sighted in East Bendigo.

Police tried to arrest Mr Backer but he fled, causing officers to attempt to lock down the area around Lloyd and Murphy streets.

Despite a more than three-hour search involving the air wing and dog squad, Mr Backer was not able to be found.

Sergeant Steve Rainey said arresting the three men was the highest priority for police.

“The people we’re looking for are very dangerous – they will run, steal motor vehicles and evade,” he said. 

“Their driving is extremely dangerous and very much of a concern for all of us.”

All three men are known to each other and are also wanted for failing to appear at court while on bail.

Nineteen-year-old Jordan Smith was also spotted on Thursday in a car with stolen number plates in Napolean Crescent, White Hills.

Police attempted to arrest Mr Smith, who fled in the car, but not before officers deployed OC spray.

Sergeant Rainey said his actions were alarming, with his erratic driving causing police to take evasive action.

“The escalation of their driving is becoming our major concern because they’re in stolen cars and will not stop for police,” he said.

No police members were injured in either incident.

Sergeant Rainey said police were doing everything they could to find the men.

“We ask people if they know them, know where they are, then to please let us know,” he said. 

“We don't want to have something more serious involving innocent people, or carnage on the road, which is what their driving is going to lead to.”

Anyone who sees any of the men, or who has information on their whereabouts, is urged to contact Bendigo police on 5448 1300, Crime Stoppers on 1800 333 000 or make a report at www.crimestoppersvic.com.au

Despite large-scale manhunt, wanted men slip through net

The full force of Victoria Police was on display on Thursday when the dog squad and air wing joined uniformed and plain-clothed police in a manhunt in East Bendigo.

The focus of the search was three men, Aaron Burzacott, Jordan Smith and Ashley Backer, who police described as “very dangerous”.

But the officers were forced to go home empty-handed by early evening when it became clear the men they were looking for had slipped through the net, for now at least.

Crime investigation unit sergeant, Steve Rainey, who joined the search, said while the men had avoided answering detectives’ questions on Thursday, officers were doing “everything we can to find them”.

“We've still got some investigations pending and a number of addresses still to check and other avenues of inquiry to follow up on, which we will be doing over the next 24, 48, 72 hours,” he said.

“We’d like to put the community at ease that we’re doing everything we can to find them … just be vigilant [and] if you know these people and see them, let us know.”

UPDATE 4.15pm: Ashley Backer is one of four men wanted by police, all of whom have been described by police as dangerous.

Ashley Backer

Ashley Backer

Police have as yet been unable to locate Backer in East Bendigo, after they attempted to lock down the area this afternoon.

Sergeant Steve Rainey said arresting the four men was the highest priority for police.

“The people we’re looking for are very dangerous - they will run, steal motor vehicles and evade,” he said in Lloyd Street this afternoon. 

“Their driving is extremely dangerous and very much of a concern for all of us.”

Backer was sighted in East Bendigo by police, but fled when they approached him.

A short, blonde-haired female was with him at the time and police attempted to lock down the immediate area in Lloyd and Murphy streets.

A search involving the air wing and dog squad has so far been unsuccessful.

Police remain in East Bendigo, although the air wing has left the area.

Backer is believed to be wearing a blue hoodie, white shorts and black sunglasses.

Anyone who sights Backer, or who has information about his whereabouts, is urged to contact Crime Stoppers on 1800 333 000 or Bendigo Police Station on 5448 1300.

UPDATE 3.10pm: The dog squad continues its search for Ashley Backer.

2.32pm: The dog squad has arrived in Lansell Terrace.

2.20pm: A police helicopter is joining the search for wanted man Ashley Backer.

1.55pm: Victoria Police have confirmed that the dog and air wing units have been dispatched from Melbourne to assist in the search for wanted man Ashley Backer.

The dog squad is expected to arrive on the scene about 2.15pm.

1.15pm: Police have confirmed they are searching for Ashley Backer, 32, who was spotted in Lloyd Street, East Bendigo a short time ago.

Backer is wanted for multiple offences including: theft of motor vehicle, theft of petrol, evading police, dangerous driving, contravening a community correction order, drug trafficking and failing to appear while on bail.

Sergeant Steve Rainey said officers were conducting a search in the area of Lloyd Street, Murphy Street and McIvor Highway.

Residents in the area are urged to stay inside their homes.

Backer is believed to be wearing a blue hoodie, white shorts and black sunglasses.

Anyone who sights Backer, or who has information about his whereabouts, is urged to contact Crime Stoppers on 1800 333 000 or Bendigo Police Station on 5448 1300.

1pm: A MAJOR police operation is under way in East Bendigo.

Uniformed and plain clothed officers have cordoned off an area by bound by Lloyd, Murphy and Doak streets.

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