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I-Team: How a man in handcuffs stole a police cruiser

A man accused of stealing a police cruiser while in handcuffs is now out of the hospital and facing several charges. (WGME)

PORTLAND (WGME) -- A man accused of stealing a police cruiser while in handcuffs is now out of the hospital and facing several charges.

22-year-old Tyler Tibbetts was in court Wednesday, charged with felony theft, escape, and eluding an officer.

Through a prisoner partition, only about 11 inches by 11 inches, Dexter police say 22-year-old Tyler Tibbetts was able to squeeze through from the back seat to the front seat of the cruiser.

Police say they left Tibbets unattended in a running car, "due to climate control safety issues," while on scene helping Tibbets’ girlfriend and young child.

Captain Scott Stewart with the Cumberland County Sheriff's Office says he's seen it before.

“They are few and far between and hopefully no officer has this happen in their career,” Stewart said.

According to state records, Tibbetts is 5’9” and weighs 130 pounds.

The Dexter police department says it's working to be more prepared, too.

Wednesday, a senior officer said this kind of escape will never happen again. They've modified all of the department's cruisers to remove the partition window.

Captain Stewart says whenever possible they make transports using this vehicle that doesn't have a partition window that opens.

Captain Stewart says he suspects all law enforcement agencies are looking closely at the incident in Dexter.

“We have to ask ourselves, ‘How did this happen? How can we prevent it from happening in the future?’” Stewart said.

CBS 13 found transport guidelines vary depending on the police agency.

State police vehicles don't use partitions at all.

According to the Portland Police Department's policy, officers are required to take all reasonable precautions to prevent an escape from custody using a specially equipped arrest van whenever possible.

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