published Wednesday, January 9th, 2013

Suspect in Cleveland, Tenn., patrol car heist still free

Cleveland, Tenn., police are still searching for the man they say stole a patrol car and escaped police custody Saturday night.

Charles James Masengale, 29, somehow got out of the back seat of a patrol car and drove the car away while handcuffed, police said.

Cleveland police are offering a reward for information leading to his arrest, spokeswoman Evie West said. She said the officer who arrested Masengale followed department procedures.

"The arresting officer followed proper procedures of handcuffing the suspect and putting him in the back of a locked patrol car," she said.

Masengale was arrested about 9:15 p.m. Saturday after he failed to stop for a traffic violation. The officer who pulled him over reported that he saw methamphetamine and drug paraphernalia in the car and arrested Masengale and placed him in the back seat of the patrol car.

That's when Masengale managed to get into the front seat and drive the car away before crashing and running from police.

West said she doesn't know of any similar escapes in Cleveland, but she added that escapes from police custody are not unheard of.

"Escapes have happened all over the country in many different law enforcement jurisdictions," she said.

Masengale was charged with theft of property in 2001. He does not have any other criminal charges on his record.

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