A U.S. Navy deserter surrendered to U.S. authorities after 19 months on the run in Australia and was later placed under arrest by local police on charges of stealing, authorities said Friday.

David Meyer, 19, of Medford, Ore., who said he deserted in order to escape a life of "sheer hell," surrendered to U.S. Consul-General John Dorrance in Sydney Thursday, a consul spokesman said.Then local police who had charges pending against Meyer arrested him.

"Meyer is being held on two charges and will appear in court," a police spokesman said. "The charges relate to jumping ship in Fremantle on Dec. 26, 1986, and a break, enter and stealing charge at Bulahdelah in northern New South Wales."

Meyer said he spent 19 months surviving on food scraps, handouts and a string of odd jobs. He said he slept outdoors often.