A Case 5.5 tonne excavator worth about $100,000 has been trashed after thieves took it for a joy ride on Friday night.
Port Campbell police Senior Constable Tony McLachlan said the excavator had been working on the Great Ocean Road in the Gellibrand Lower area.
He said a Colac business owned and operated the machine and it was left parked just east of Princetown on Friday afternoon about 4pm.
The excavator was later entered, started and driven off a 20-metre embankment, causing damage to the cabin and the boom.
The machinery will be assessed by an insurance expert before it's decided whether it can be repaired or declared an insurance write-off.
"The business left it parked for the weekend, came back Monday morning and thought it had been stolen," Senior Constable McLachlan said.
"It was only driven about five metres but that was enough for it to go down the embankment.
"We don't know if someone has taken it for a joyride or tried to damage it on purpose, but they only drove it a few metres.
"It's all steep hills down there and the vehicle has gone off the edge of the road."
The police officer said it was noticed on Saturday morning that the excavator was not where it had been parked.
"It's believed the damage was caused sometime after it was parked at 4pm Friday, on Friday night," he said.
"Other workers thought it odd the excavator had been moved but the buckets were left there.
"Crime scene officers are examining the vehicle and items have been located in the cab that do not belong to the driver."
Senior Constable McLachlan requested anyone with information about the incident contact Crime Stoppers on 1800 333 000 or the Port Campbell police station on 5598 6310.
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