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Manhunt Underway After Man Escapes Police Custody In East Harlem

NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) -- An intense search is underway in after a suspect accused of shoplifting at a store in East Harlem escaped police custody on Saturday afternoon.

Police said the man was suspected of shoplifting at a Duane Reade on East 102nd Street between Park and Madison avenues shortly before 12:30 p.m.

"I don't know why you would run from the cops if you were shoplifting -- you're not going to go to jail for 20 years for that," one man said.

On Saturday afternoon, detectives began the desperate search to find the suspect, scouring residential building along 102nd Street for hours, but he never turned up, CBS2's Magdalena Doris reported. 

Surveillance footage was captured inside the Duane Reade where police say the man was stealing merchandise. Exclusive video obtained by CBS2 shows the man walking briskly after allegedly leaving the store with stolen goods.

When officers picked him up a few blocks away, they handcuffed him -- but before he was put into the back of a squad car, he was able to escape, with his hands still secured behind his back.

"That means the police...either they're not equipped, or they're not trained properly, because who escapes from the police, that's weird," resident Aiesha Rodriguez said.

This is the first case of its kind this year, but the department is no stranger to the issue. Last year, three prisoners escaped from custody.

In 2015, six suspects were able to make a run for it under police supervision.

All of the suspects were later caught.

Residents aren't so sure that will happen in this case.

"He's probably gone already by now, they aren't gonna catch him. If it happened already this morning, they can forget about it. that guy is gone already," one resident said.

Police are hoping surveillance video will aid in the apprehension.

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