Handcuffed man steals police car

Kouts, Ind., chief James Boyce stands in front of a flatbed tow truck carrying a town police car stolen by a suspect in custody following a traffic stop Tuesday night.

Kouts, Ind., chief James Boyce stands in front of a flatbed tow truck carrying a town police car stolen by a suspect in custody following a traffic stop Tuesday night.

INDIANAPOLIS (AP) — A handcuffed drug suspect who stole and wrecked a police cruiser in northwest Indiana is still on the loose, but he did not take any loaded weapons from the car, authorities said Wednesday.

William Francis Blankenship stole the car Tuesday from a local officer in the Porter County town of Kouts and then used the police radio to ask where to find the car’s cigarette lighter — and a key to unlock himself, police said.

“There was a conversation between him and one of our officers,” Porter County Sheriff’s Sgt. Larry LaFlower said. The sheriff’s deputy did not tell Blankenship how to remove the handcuffs or use the cigarette lighter, and instead tried to talk Blankenship into pulling over and giving himself up, LaFlower said.

Police found the town cruiser Wednesday morning “wrecked and submerged in water” in a drainage ditch in nearby LaPorte County, but Blankenship, 22, of Knox, was no longer with the vehicle, LaFlower said. Police say no other vehicles were involved and they are investigating how the cruiser got there.

The sole police officer on duty Tuesday evening in Kouts arrested Blankenship on drug charges. Authorities are trying to determine how Blankenship got out of the back seat of the patrol car. It’s not clear if he had been locked inside the car. The officer did leave the car keys in the ignition, LaFlower said.

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