Dexter police say the suspect who stole a police cruiser after he was taken into custody Friday squeezed through a small opening in a partition in the vehicle to get from the back seat into the driver’s seat.

Tyler Tibbetts

According to a statement by the department and an officer there, Tyler Tibbetts, 22, was placed in handcuffs behind his back by a probation and parole employee and secured in the rear of a police SUV. Between Tibbetts and the front driver’s area was a partition with an 11-by-11-inch opening.

Tibbetts is believed to have contorted himself to bring the handcuffs in front of his body before squeezing himself through the opening. He then stole the cruiser, according to police.

According to the State Bureau of Identification, Tibbetts weighs about 130 pounds and stands 5 feet 9 inches tall.

The account clarifies an earlier version of events from the Maine State Police in which Tibbetts was said to have escaped one cruiser only to steal a second cruiser nearby – which Dexter police said was not accurate.

The release also provides new details about the circumstances of Tibbetts’ arrest. Police were called to 872 Garland Road in Dexter about 10:30 a.m. by a staffer at Maine Probation and Parole who had an active arrest warrant to revoke Tibbetts’ probation status.

When officers arrived, they determined Tibbetts was home and took him into custody.

While officers were on the scene, they also assisted Tibbetts’ girlfriend and a young child, who police say have since been evicted from the property. It was at that point that Tibbetts took control of the cruiser and fled the area.

Police left the cruiser running with the partition open “due to climate control safety issues for the prisoner in the back,” according to a statement by the department.

Although a Dexter police officer did not divulge the year, make and model of the cruiser involved, Dexter police posted on Facebook in 2013 about their purchase of a 2014 model year Ford Explorer police vehicle. Rear passenger climate control was optional on some versions of the vehicle, according to a user manual for that model year.

Tibbetts fled the area in the vehicle but abandoned it off Parkman Road in Garland by 1:15 p.m. Police caught up with him shortly after 2 p.m., when officers spotted him driving another vehicle.

When Tibbetts refused to stop, police engaged in a brief high-speed chase through Dover-Foxcroft and Tibbetts crashed into some woods off Bangor Road, also known as Route 15, in Corinth, according to the Maine State Police.

Tibbetts suffered serious injuries in the crash and was pinned inside the wreckage. A LifeFlight helicopter was dispatched to take him to Eastern Maine Medical Center, McCausland said. A nursing supervisor at the Bangor hospital said Sunday that she had no information about a patient named Tyler Tibbetts.

It was unknown whether Tibbetts acquired a firearm when he stole the cruiser, although during the more than two hours he was on the loose, police advised the public that Tibbetts should be considered armed and dangerous. It also was not clear how he acquired the second vehicle and whether he was still handcuffed when he crashed.

According to the State Bureau of Identification, Tibbetts has a criminal record that began in 2013 when he was sentenced as a juvenile by a judge for a burglary and theft. He served 18 days but violated his probation and was sent to jail for one year and a month.

Tibbetts later was charged by the Milo police with felony aggravated assault, was found guilty and served six months of an 18-month sentence.

In 2014 Tibbetts also paid restitution for a misdemeanor theft, and served 30 days in jail for resisting arrest.

His record also includes convictions for criminal mischief, another theft charge, violating the conditions of his release, aggravated forgery and other less serious charges.

 

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