A look back at the times Port Hedland’s Sergeant Steve Cleal won the internet and our hearts

Mia BurgessNorth West Telegraph
Port Hedland Officer in Charge Sergeant Steve Cleal.
Camera IconPort Hedland Officer in Charge Sergeant Steve Cleal. Credit: Danielle Raffaele/North West Telegraph

In the final instalment of his trademark Facebook posts, Port Hedland’s Sgt Steve Cleal announced on Monday that he would be leaving Port Hedland at the end of the week.

Sgt Cleal arrived in Hedland in 2019 after being a detective in the homicide squad for more than 15 years.

Prior to working in Port Hedland, Sgt Cleal had five years experience working in Karratha and another five in Derby.

In 2019, he told the North West Telegraph he wanted to “achieve a reduction in juvenile crime”, and in his final sign off he was happy to report that despite the recent spike in crime the town has experienced there had been a “remarkable down turn” in his final week on the job.

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“I am happy to report the efforts of your Hedland coppers have resulted in a remarkable down turn in youth crime over the last week and am pleased to be leaving on such a good note,” he wrote.

Sgt Cleal said he thought the only thing people would miss about him would be his “goofy, try-hard, humorous posts,” however, the comments left on his final post proved otherwise, with hundreds of comments of gratitude and thanks for his service to the town.

In the wake of Sgt Cleal’s departure from Port Hedland, The North West Telegraph has taken a look back at some of his most iconic social media moments.

Just in case you didn’t realise, all caps mean Sgt Cleal is YELLING

In this post about “hoons” in Hedland, Sgt Cleal discusses dangerous driving, and using mobile phones when driving.

“Now, WHAT’S WITH STARING AT YOUR PHONES WHILST DRIVING — capital letters means I’m yelling by the way . . .

“If it’s REALLY necessary to check the status update of one of your closest 500 friends to see the picture of the meal they just ate or to read about how sore they are after ‘leg day’ — pull over and park somewhere safe!

“Staring at your phone whilst driving is dangerous AND will cost you!” Sgt Cleal wrote.

Great-grandma’s bike and a Hedland feature film?

This pearler not only features Sgt Cleal’s trademark “lock your doors and cars” message, but also a nod to Nicholas Cage and a cheeky dig about a stolen bike.

“If Nicolas Cage wants a sequel to ‘Gone in 60 seconds’ he could film in Hedland and call it ‘Gone in 3 seconds’, although Warner Brothers may not match the ‘thrilling suspense’ of the original with a Hollywood star walking up to an unlocked vehicle and starting it with the ignition keys.

“Oh, and the below pic is a bike that was found at the Shell Service Station in Port Hedland. Don’t be embarrassed to claim it. If it does belong to your great-grandmother, please contact police with proof of ownership . . .”

Confirmed: Yummy Noodle do in fact make yummy noodles

Unfortunately not the only post Sgt Cleal had to pen about ram raids in town, this time on local Asian restaurant Yummy Noodle.

Once again, his message is clear, lock those cars and lock those doors.

“So, another RAM RAID. Let’s just recap my week so far which started with a reception colder than a mother-in-law’s hug.

“Early hours Monday. UNLOCKED unit. Kids walk in. Keys stolen. Car gone (YAWWWN) sorry, I’m boring myself writing the same thing over and over.

“Since then the stolen car was used in four burglaries including this ram raid at ‘Yummy Noodle’ at the Port Hedland Boulevard overnight.

“Several crooks have been charged for these offences and remanded in custody AND whilst writing this ‘low-brow’ literature the stolen car has been recovered — so we should have some short-term relief (sigh).

“There’s a clue in the title of ‘Yummy Noodle’ . . . they make yummy noodles. Judging by the $50 notes in the tip jar, I’m guessing I’m not the only one that thinks so. Let’s show some local support when they’re back trading eh . . .” Sgt Cleal wrote.

Be very afraid of the HTG

Sgt Cleal had us on high alert when he announced there was a “terrifying” new gang in town and told us how he really felt about man-buns.

“GANG ALERT in Hedland — and their really, really scary as well.

“H.T.G or ‘Hedland Town Girls’ have been marking their territory by graffiti tagging. Hells Angels are avoiding the area out of fear.

“They’re really REALLY smart as well not writing their FULL names and only the cryptic clues of their initials — tracking them down wasn’t the hardest job we’ve ever had.

“We’re going back to graffiti again eh? PATHETIC! Just like a bloke with a ‘top knot’, you girls are going to look back at this with embarrassment.”

Protein powder and beauty creams

When things locked down in the big smoke, Sgt Cleal was happy to hear what people thought about the rules.

“So, if you’ve arrived from Perth by air or road you MUST wear a face mask at all times and only go out for essential reasons until midnight Friday — pretty simple.

“This DOES NOT include going out for a few beers to the local pub . We are policing these directions with sole intention of keeping us ALL safe. If you wish to vent your personal opinions to police regarding following these directions, please, don’t let me stop you.

“Just know it will serve the same purpose as taking ‘muscle mass’ protein powder or using ‘anti-ageing’ beauty creams . . . nothing changes.”

‘My reality depicts an unco-ordinated, praying mantis’

This post had Sgt Cleal once again begging Hedlanders to keep their cars and their houses locked up.

“Trying to get ‘you lot’ to lock your doors is like my efforts on the treadmill.

“I start with great aspirations and in my head I’m winning a race with a BILLION people cheering my name.

“My reality depicts an unco-ordinated, praying mantis struggling to keep up with the revolving belt before it throws me off the back, and by the time I’m totally gassed and can’t possibly go on, I realise I’m still in the exact same spot I started!

“A burglary via an unlocked door resulted in two stolen cars that were then used in several ‘ram raids’ in Port and South Hedland including a local school . . .”

“Now please excuse your exhausted Sarge as I go back into my office, close the door and bang my head on the desk.”

Hide and seek and Cobra Kai

In this post Sgt Cleal recaps on a night spent on the frontline.

“So, the crew let me relive the ‘good old days’ joining them on the front line to barrel through a house and capture some crooks with arrest warrants.

“One was caught hiding under a bed frame and the other crouched down in a wardrobe. Personally, I assessed their hide-and-seek level as ‘basic’.

“MY recollection of events involved me being the fearless leader who single handedly captured both crooks using my newfound empty-hand tactics I learnt from binge watching Cobra Kai.

“My STAFF described an old ‘has been’ with good intentions just getting in the way . . . Either way, inside the house we located a number of stolen items from previous burglaries, so when I locate a brand new set of Makita tools in possession of, well, ‘tools’ I have my suspicions,” he wrote.

Aside from being entertaining, Sgt Cleal’s Facebook posts delivered a raw insight into what it’s like to lead a police station in a regional town and the frustrations, challenges and laughs that come with it.

They also proved effective in keeping the town up to date with what was going on.

Take care Sgt Cleal, speak soon.

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