Handcuffed Prisoner Stole Police Car, Led Cops on Chase

FREEPORT, N.Y. (AP) -

A handcuffed prisoner seated in the back of a police car Thursday night was able to slip the cuffs in front of him and steal the vehicle, leading officers on a chase before crashing into several parked cars in a residential community.

Police in the village of Freeport, about 30 miles from Manhattan, pulled over Andrew Howard’s minivan after an alert from license plate readers that the 36-year-old had open warrants. The officers arrested Howard, handcuffing him and placing him in the back of a police SUV. But they say Howard was able to slip the handcuffs in front of him and squeeze through a small partition between the front and back seats.

Police say the opening was about 1 foot square. Newsday said Howard is 5 feet 9 inches and weighs 155 pounds.

“This is a very nimble and very agile individual…” said Det. Lt. Richard Lebrun, a Nassau police spokesman. “It was a sliding Plexiglas partition and nobody ever thought that an individual could squeeze through an 11.5 by 12 and a quarter square hole.”

Police said Howard made his way behind the wheel and took off in the police SUV, leading officers on a chase for nearly two miles before he crashed. No injuries were reported.

Howard was arrested on charges including escape, resisting arrest, unlawful fleeing of police, and grand larceny.