A handcuffed theft suspect drove away in the police cruiser in which he was being taken into custody Sunday night, police said.

Howard County police said they were called to the Walmart on Ridge Road around 10 p.m. for a report of a theft in progress. The responding officer said he located the suspect, who had approximately $3,000 worth of stolen merchandise. The officer approached the suspect, who then ran away, police said.

After a foot pursuit, the officer took Jerome Rucker, 32, of Nottingham, into custody.

The officer handcuffed Rucker behind the back and placed him into the backseat of a patrol SUV, police said. While the officer was collecting evidence from the Walmart, Rucker got away.

"Somehow, the suspect was able to bring the handcuffs to the front of his body, climb over into the driver's seat and takeoff in the SUV," Howard County police spokeswoman Sherry Llewellyn said.

Officer gave a brief chase, but it was hardly high-speed and with good reason. Police tracked the vehicle and Rucker in the 2400 block of Westwood Street near Coppin State University in Baltimore City.

"All police vehicles are equipped with GPS technology, so if you take one of our cars, we're going to know exactly where you are as you drive, and we were able to intercept at that location in the city because of the GPS in our vehicle," Llewellyn said.

Rucker was taken into custody and charged with theft, auto theft, drug possession, resisting arrest, failure to obey a lawful order and escape.

Shoppers at the Walmart off Ridge Road were both surprised and impressed.

"That's really crazy. It really is, absolutely," said Norma Rojas, a shopper.

"I think it's pretty crazy that someone's double-jointed enough to actually get out of that stuff. You'd think they would have some precautions against that. Who knows?" said Parker Francis, a shopper.

Police are conducting a standard internal review.

"One of the things that will happen in this case, which is standard, is that there will be an internal review to confirm that the officers followed protocol and if there were no mistakes made," Llewellyn said.

Rucker is being held without bond at the Howard County Detention Center.