Officers initially arrested Monica Nicole Christian, 31, after responding to reports of squatters in a neighborhood in Rochester Township, near Pittsburgh.
Police say Christian became violent with them during the arrest, WTAE-TV reported.
But once inside a police cruiser, the handcuffed Christian managed to climb through the cage separating the front and back seats – and then drive off in the police cruiser while the officer was gathering some items outside the vehicle, the Times of Rochester reported.
At some point the suspect slipped off the handcuffs, parked the vehicle and fled on foot, the report said.
But tips from neighbors helped police locate the suspect, according to WPXI-TV.
“Without their assistance, we would have had a hard time trying to track her down,” Sgt. Dawn Shane of the Rochester Police department told WTAE.
Christian was later seen on local television, sticking her tongue out at a news crew as she was escorted by law enforcement officers.
Authorities say the suspect was wanted in Texas for robbery.