Shutterstock/NYPD

An alleged jewel thief dodged the police by sprinting through the city's subway tunnels -- all while wearing handcuffs.

He made flashy videos with titles like "I'm proud to be an Albanian." He debated the afterlife on Sciencebuzz.org. He allegedly snatched chained jewelry from elderly women walking around the Bronx. But none of that — even the jewelry part — could have portended the manhunt through the subway tunnels of Harlem for 18-year-old Vincens Vuktilaj, who briefly halted New York's mass transit system while eluding policy custody on Monday morning, only to emerge five hours later, under a cab, still in handcuffs.

According to the New York Police Department, Vuktilaj had been arrested on Friday in connection with several jewelry snatchings and later released on bail. But new criminal charges against him surfaced over the weekend, and on Monday police went to arrest him for a second time, at his apartment building on 141st Street around 10:15 a.m. That's when Vuktilaj made a run for it. Officials told The New York Times that Vuktilaj, dressed in a yellow sweatshirt and black socks, pushed several officers escorting him down the stairs of his building and, after losing his captors minutes later, sprinted to the 145th Street subway station at St. Nicholas Avenue, and quickly disappeared.

In response, police immediately ordered New York's Metropolitan Transportation Authority to entirely halt the B train and stop certain sections of A, C, and D trains, all of which run through the 145th Street station. The trains momentarily stalled, the hunt for Vuktilaj began in earnest around 10:55, with officers and trained dogs scouring the dank, subterranean tunnels for traces of Vuktilaj's whereabouts.

Two hours passed. Nothing. The trains began running again. 3 p.m. came and went.

It soon became clear that Vuktilaj intended to use the tunnels as one leg of his makeshift getaway plan, not as a hiding place. A little before 3:30 p.m. he was spotted 10 blocks south of his last appearance, at the 135rd Street Station, after emerging from the subway station on Saint Nicholas Avenue. People on scene saw him dodge under a nearby car. Remarkably, he was found wearing the handcuffs he's been given earlier than morning.

Vuktilaj's underground route:

Would-be escapees could learn something from Vuktilaj, just as they could have from the last guy who attempted to escape the NYPD via subway, in September 2012. That man outran dozens of cops in the West Village only to reappear an hour later in Gramercy Park, where he was promptly detained. Sure, it's a romantic thought — mass transit as ultimate escape! But remember: The Taking of Pelham One Two Three was a pulp thriller. In the end, you always have to come up for air.

This post originally appeared on The Atlantic Wire.

About the Author

Most Popular

  1. Environment

    Iceland Is Sick of Tourists' Bad Behavior

    Visitors are underestimating the country’s dangers—and taking locals for granted.

  2. Environment

    Let's All Swim in the Once-Filthy Canals of Paris

    Unlike many cities, the French capital has made good on its promise to re-open urban waterways to bathers. How did they do it?  

  3. The Salk Institute, near San Diego
    Design

    This Is Your Brain on Architecture

    In her new book, Sarah Williams Goldhagen presents scientific evidence for why some buildings delight us and others—too many of them—disappoint.

  4. Equity

    Too Many People Are Calling 911. Here's a Better Way.

    Memphis is working on an alternative for the expensive “you-call, we-haul” approach.

  5. Cafe patrons sitting at outdoor tables beneath an awning
    Life

    In Berlin, This Coffee Shop Is a Microcosm of the Changing City

    The iconic Café Kranzler got a makeover. Now, the coffeehouse illustrates the schism in a city caught somewhere amid historic and hip.