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The chase began about 9am after police responded to reports of a man acting suspiciously in Hillary St, in the Dunedin suburb of Liberton near Pine Hill.
A witness said the man appeared to have run down Lowe St in an attempt to evade police, who blockaded the intersection of Hillary St and Pine Hill Rd as they closed in.
''There was no way he was getting away.''
Upon reaching Lowe St's dead-end, it appeared he crossed through back sections and over a fence, fleeing a pursuing officer, the witness said.
He was apprehended by police shortly thereafter in Tasman St.
The man was wearing socks with holes in them and appeared to have ripped his pants and injured himself in the chase.
St John spokesman Gerard Campbell said the alleged offender sustained moderate injuries.
Meanwhile, a short distance away in Pine Hill Rd, several officers surrounded what was believed to be the man's white station wagon, abandoned outside the Pine Hill Dairy.
A police spokeswoman confirmed the 30-year-old man was charged ''in relation to a historic theft matter''.
He was due to appear in the Dunedin District Court next week, she said.
• Dunedin police (03) 471-4800, Crimestoppers 0800-555-111.