How He Did It: 12-year-old’s epic escape where he drove a scooter, drank a beer on Bali holiday before secured by Bali Police and AFP

Stills from the A Current Affair segment.

The 12-year-old Australian kid who borrowed the family credit cards to fund a holiday to Bali admits he drank a beer and drove a scooter during the unbelievable trip. And it’s all because of a post to social media of his holiday that police were able to hunt him down.

On Monday evening, the Australian broadcast program A Current Affair premiered their 16-minute feature on the kid, who they have decided to call “Drew” for the story, which they’ve titled “Runaway Rascal.”

Those accessing the internet from Australia can view the episode for free (or those with a VPN changing their IP address to Oz). However, if you’re outside of Oz (and VPN-less) you’ll have to make do with this teaser:

During the program in an interview with ACA reporter Brady Halls, we learn between cheesy dramatic reenactment shots of Drew’s great escape, that this was not the kid’s first attempt to go to Bali on his own and his parents had previously asked for help from the Australian Federal Police (AFP) to monitor for any international departure attempts.

Drew had tried to fly solo to Bali with Garuda and Qantas but his escape attempts were foiled by airline policies requiring children to carry permission letters from parents. However, he found that the third time was the charm, realizing that he could go on Jetstar without any such letter.

The airline has publicly stated since the story broke that they will be updating their policy to make sure some other kids don’t try and pull the same thing.

“This is the first time we have heard of a 12 year old traveling overseas without their parents’ knowledge.

“We were concerned when we heard about this and will be introducing new measures to prevent this happening again.

“We will consider several options before introducing a new solution to ensure it’s practical for parents,” says Jetstar’s statement on the matter.

But for Drew’s mother, it’s really with the AFP that there’s an ax to grind.

When she and her divorced partner learned of their kid’s failed two attempts at international travel, she says she contacted the AFP for help and that they were supposed to have flagged his passport.

“We screamed, we begged for help for weeks on end,” she said dramatically in her interview with ACA.

“When the first attempt to Indonesia took place, we were told his passport was going to be flagged.”

What’s not so clear is how exactly Drew was able to get ahold of his passport. The program tells us that he somehow tricked his nan into handing it over, but we’re not sure after learning about the two previous escape attempts why she thought it might even be a good idea to give it to him—unless she thought the passport being flagged could prevent him from leaving Australia.

But anyway, his passport had no such warning on it and Drew traveled with ease, using the self-service kiosks at the airport in Sydney to check in for his connecting flight to Perth. He says no one asked him any questions once he got to Perth and got on to his flight to Bali just fine.

Indonesian immigration was suspicious of the kid, asking him if he was traveling alone but the cunning 12-year-old seemed to have an answer prepared for everything.

“I just said, no my mom’s waiting outside, because she lives in Bali,” Drew told Halls.

After jumping on the back of a scooter, using the popular Indonesian app Gojek to hail a motorbike taxi, Drew arrived at the All Seasons Hotel in Legian, where he’s stayed with family before—according to his mother, the family holidays in Bali every year, so that helps explain why the kid was so at ease getting around Bali.

Like straight out of a scene from Home Alone—which the ACA segment heavily references—Drew says he told the front desk he needed to check-in first since he was traveling with his older sister who hadn’t gotten in yet.

When asked by Halls if he did anything he shouldn’t have done while in Bali, Drew admitted to having a drink.

“I drank a beer.

“At the beach,” he told the reporter.

The kid also revealed that he rented a motorbike with no license and no problem—not really a shocker if you’ve ever tried to rent a scooter in Bali before.

“They just want the money,” he said.

It was apparently a video of Drew backflipping into a pool with a tagged location in Bali, posted to social media, that tipped off AFP as to where the missing kid was.

AFP coordinated with Bali Police to pick the kid up from the hotel.

After waiting a few hours for the kid to return from beach, Drew saw the police and said he just had to get his stuff, but locked himself inside the hotel room, put a chair under the door handle, and closed the windows, only for them to get to him by unscrewing the windows.

Drew was taken to the police station and kept in a special staff room since he didn’t technically commit a crime and wasn’t being arrested—and for those reasons police could only hold him for 24 hours.

Consular staff stayed with him in the police station overnight until his parents could get there.

AFP has released a statement about the incident, which they say took place between March 8 an 14. As with Jetstar, AFP says it will be reviewing current operating procedures to make sure this kind of thing doesn’t happen again. Here’s the full statement, as published by ACA: 

The AFP worked with the Indonesian National Police (INP), NSW Police and the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade (DFAT) to locate a 12-year-old boy in Bali who had been reported as a missing person in NSW and return him safely to his parents.

The AFP was notified on 8 March 2018 that the boy may attempt to travel internationally from Sydney Airport. Between 8 March and 14 March 2018 the AFP worked with ABF and NSW Police and conducted enquiries to locate the child.

On 17 March, the AFP received information that the boy may be in Bali. Enquiries and liaison with DFAT and the INP subsequently confirmed this and he was taken into protective custody by the INP on 18 March 2018.

The AFP helped facilitate some arrangements for the boy’s parents as they travelled to Bali after their child was located.

A travel alert to prevent international travel was not placed on this boy.

The AFP does not have the power to cancel passports or to request the cancelation of a passport by DFAT if the person holding that passport is not suspected of committing specific criminal offences. 

The AFP will work with partner agencies to review the circumstances of this matter and current operating procedures, to ensure this type of incident does not occur again.

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