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Manhunt Underway For ‘Survivalist’ Who Stole Deputy’s Vehicle

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Authorities say 58-year-old Stephen Melton escaped custody and may have fled into the woods. (Courtesy WMC-TV)

Authorities say 58-year-old Stephen Melton escaped custody and may have fled into the woods. (Courtesy WMC-TV)

LAUDERDALE COUNTY, Tenn. (CBS Charlotte) – Authorities are searching for a man who stole a Tennessee deputy’s SUV while handcuffed in the back seat, reports WMC-TV.

Police say 58-year-old Stephen Melton later crashed the vehicle several miles away and may have ran on foot into the woods.

Deputies were serving warrants to Melton at his mobile home.

Inside they found a fully functioning meth lab, stun guns and pipe bombs.

Melton and another man inside the mobile home were taken into custody, each in a separate vehicle.

The deputy who was driving the SUV with Melton in the back seat was called back to the mobile home.

Authorities say Melton somehow got the handcuffs out from behind him, kicked through a plexiglass barrier and drove away.

The empty SUV was found 6 miles away, where it had crashed into a tree.

Melton is called a “survivalist” and has been known to spend several weeks living in the outdoors.

Lauderdale County Sheriff Steve Sanders says Melton is dangerous because he has a knowledge of weapons and explosives.

Sanders also believes Melton may have shaved his beard to alter his appearance.

Residents are advised to keep their doors locked and call 911 if they notice any suspicious activity.

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