A MANHUNT is underway for a thief who assaulted and carjacked an elderly man after he stopped to help at a car crash on Friday afternoon.
The 29-year-old carjacker is also wanted by police for robbery and stealing the crashed vehicle from the Gold Coast area last week.
Alastair Martin, 69, was driving home to Poona after picking up groceries from Maryborough when he saw a cloud of dust ahead of him on the Cooloola Coast Road, just south of Maryborough.
When he reached the cloud, Mr Martin pulled over, along with another car driven by a 68-year-old man, to help the driver of a car which had driven into a tree.
The 29-year-old Eagleby crash "victim" told the pair of good Samaritans there was an injured passenger in the car.
But when Mr Martin and the other man went to help, the driver of the crashed car turned on him.
The man wrestled Mr Martin for his keys and quickly managed to pull them out of his hand, despite Mr Martin having the key ring looped around his finger.
"He then took off back towards Gympie," Mr Martin said. The attack left Mr Martin with a scraped finger and sore ribs. Mr Martin's car was found abandoned about 30km away with a "blown up" radiator
after the hose detached.
The retiree has been given a loan vehicle by his insurance company and is waiting to hear back how much he will be offered for a replacement.
Hervey Bay Police Criminal Investigation Branch Detective Sergeant Mick Polit said the car had been driven at about 150kmh in second or third gear.
"The male offender has driver the vehicle about 30km south where it has been dumped by him. He has then fled into the bush," Sgt Polit said.
Police, including the dog squad, searched the area on Friday but did not find the man.
"To be assaulted and robbed, simply for coming to the aid of another person really strikes at the heart of what it means to be a good citizen and really is a despicable act," Sgt Polit said.
Sgt Polit said since stealing the vehicle from the Gold Coast, the man had also fuelled up without paying a number of times.
He said police believe the carjacker headed back towards the Gympie area and possibly back towards his home in Eagleby.
The man is also on bail for a number of offences.
Despite the despicable treatment from the thief, Mr Martin said the incident will not stop him from helping others.
"I just hope it doesn't deter anyone from stopping on the side of the road and helping others in need," he said.
"You would hate to think that people are not going to stop now because of an isolated incident."
Mr Martin said due to the long stretches between towns he thought it was important that people stopped to help their neighbours in times of need.
If you have seen the 29-year-old thief, contact Police Link on 131 444 or Crime Stoppers on 180 333 000.