Florida Man Steals Rawlins Police Car While Handcuffed; Eludes Cops For 70 Miles

An arrested and handcuffed Florida man was able to slide through the partition of a Rawlins police car and steal the vehicle.

Jimmy Orr

October 11, 20213 min read

Wyoming highway patrol photo
(Cowboy State Daily Staff)

If there were a criminal’s handbook, you would think there would be a chapter on handcuffs and how, unless you happen to be Houdini or Mel Gibson, you should pretty much wave the white flag if wearing those accessories.

Unfortunately for Florida man James Estes, he’s not Houdini nor Mel Gibson and that handbook does not exist.

It turns out Estes was a wanted man for a parole violation in California when he was riding a motorcycle through the town of Rawlins.

Everything was good except he didn’t have any visible registration.

The Rawlins Police spotted the infraction and attempted to pull Estes over.

As happens so often in these stories, the suspect had a difference of opinion about being pulled over and opted to leave instead.

Interstate 80 was available so Estes jumped on that motorway thereby increasing the number of law enforcement officials who got involved and decreasing the number of available turnoffs.

At mile marker 189, Estes apparently thought he had a better chance of outrunning law enforcement on foot. So he abandoned the motorcycle and began the race.

Turns out, he was wrong in that assessment as quickly after, Estes was tackled and placed under arrest.

Normally, this is where the story ends. But James Estes is from Florida. He was just getting started.

Now, in the back of the patrol car, Estes was contemplating his options. He could stay arrested and face the music. Or he could treat it like a Daily Double on Jeopardy and bet it all for glory.

Florida man chose option 2.

His first action was to slide his handcuffed arms to the front of his body. Check.

Then, he crawled through the center partition of the vehicle to the front seat where — bonus — he discovered the car was running. How could he stop now?

With no one in the car but him, he decided to take the police car out for a drive.

Forget thwarting the police with a banana in the tailpipe. Estes actually managed to steal a police car while handcuffed. And then he drove 70 miles down Interstate 80 in the stolen police car.

At mile marker 119 in Sweetwater County, Estes somehow lost control of the stolen vehicle. Upon stopping, he was able to get out, however, and gave a footrace another shot — even though handcuffs would likely make him slower than last time — not to mention, he would likely look like a buffoon.

Second verse. Same as the first.

Tackled again. Arrested again. 

But now with many, many, many more charges. Not only in Carbon County but in neighboring Sweetwater County.

If found guilty, Florida man will likely be a Wyoming man for some time to come.

All suspects are presumed innocent (even this guy) until proved guilty.

*NOTE: This story has been corrected. An earlier version reported that Estes allegedly obeyed one law at one point during the ordeal. That is not the case. He allegedly broke that law as well. In fact, he never came close to obeying any law whatsoever. We regret the error. — Ed.

Share this article



Jimmy Orr

Executive Editor

A third-generation Wyomingite, Jimmy Orr is the executive editor and co-founder of Cowboy State Daily.