POLICE are closing in on a sex offender who fled an Ararat correctional facility at the weekend.
Police are urging farmers and residents in the Ararat area to remain wary around sheds and outbuildings on their properties after sex offender Andrew Darling fled Corella Place correctional facility.
The 42-year-old was last seen at the Warrak Road facility soon after 2.30am on Sunday.
It is believed he left on foot.
Despite extensive searches of the area and the dog squad being called in, Darling has not been located.
Following an unsuccessful search of the prison area, the hunt will be “re-assessed with statewide perspective” on Wednesday morning, according to Northern Grampians Shire Police Service Area Inspector Ian Lindsay.
Darling has bush survival skills and is known to frequent licensed venues.
Victorian Centres Against Sexual Assault spokesperson Carolyn Worth said Darling was the seventh escapee in eight years.
“He managed to cut his monitoring device off. I find it interesting that you are able to do that,” she said.
“You don’t want them getting out during treatment and causing more harm to people.
“It must have been fairly awful for his victims to see his picture out there.”
Victoria’s Corrections Commissioner, Jan Shuard, said staff got the alert about the tracking device being removed “immediately”.
“They received the alert; the staff immediately attended the unit within a couple of minutes,” Ms Shuard told Fairfax radio on Monday.
Any residents who notice food or clothing stolen from their premises are urged to contact police.
Darling was released on parole from Port Phillip Prison on May 20, 2009, after serving a nine-year sentence for the rape of a 13-year-old girl.
He was arrested in Queensland in 2009 after leaving Victoria while on parole.
Darling is described as Caucasian, about 176 centimetres tall, of medium build, with blue eyes, fair-coloured cropped hair and a fair complexion.
He has both ears pierced and tattoos on his right lower leg, back and arms.
It is not known what he was last seen wearing, but he is known to wear camouflage clothing.