Police officers are trained for almost anything from almost anyone. But what Bryan PD saw Friday night was what you normally see at the circus or on a TV magic show.
Assistant Chief Freddie Komar's reaction: "[It] had to be a little fellow, and [he] had to be very limber. I know there's no way I could get through that opening."
Terry Maes, 19, stands 5-foot-4, and weighs around 115 pounds. Friday night just before 9 PM, he was in Bryan P-D custody after a cooperative effort with the Brazos Valley Narcotics Task Force netted him at a residence on Dona Drive. Maes was cuffed in the backseat, officers combing the crime scene, when he performed a disappearing act.
"He was able to get into the front of the car," Komar said. "The car had been left running so the air conditioning would get back there to him. At any rate, he got in the car, got behind the wheel and drove off."
Sergeant Donnie Manry demonstrated what happened using the exact same type of squad car.
"The subject was placed in custody and was handcuffed with his hands behind his back," he said. "He was placed into the backseat of the patrol unit. At some point, he was able to get his handcuffs from behind him into the front, and once he had his handcuffs in front, then he crawled through this window into the driver's compartment."
The window itself is barely one foot by one foot, and is even partially obscured by the front passenger seat's headrest. The opening is barely big enough to get a person's head through, much less one's entire body.
Manry described it as an, "extremely small opening. It's very hard to believe someone squeezed through there."
"I've been with Bryan PD 26-and-a-half years," Komar said, "and while I'm aware we've had some escapes from custody, I am not aware of an event in the last 26-and-a-half years where a Bryan police car was stolen."
The vehicle was last seen heading southbound on Villa Maria, and police don't know the exact route that it took. But they do know where it ended up. Some two hours later, Unit 6-141 was found some 20 minutes away, north of Lake Bryan on Mumford Street.
Some of Bryan PD's newest instruments -- radios installed in their cars -- were instrumental in finding the stolen vehicle.
"Part of that included an AVL, an Automated Vehicle Locator," Komar explained. "This, to my knowledge, is the first time since the radio system's been implemented, that it's been utilized in this manner."
But the search remained on for Maes, who was not with the vehicle. In fact, he was found around 2 AM back at the scene of the original crime, on Dona Drive. He is charged with escaping while under arrest and theft of stolen property.
During the car disappearance, all routine traffic stops were suspended, a necessary but unwanted step, according to Komar.
"That the public should be leary of a Bryan police officer stopping them, that underscores the seriousness of the event," he said. "I never in my wildest imagination dreamed that I would have to make that call."
And while it appears to be a rare magic act, the seriousness of it has prompted an investigation into procedures and personnel, one which Bryan PD won't comment on while it is on-going.
The incident all started after a narcotic search warrant at a woman's home at the Dona Street location. That's where 43-year-old Nicola Naibert was arrested.
Police say they found two-and-a-quarter pounds of marijuana, drug scales and $1,700 in cash.
Naibert was released this afternoon on possession charges after posting a $12,000 dollar bond. The marijuana had a street value of $1,200.
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