Anthony Sanchez, 32, was found by officers at about 11:22 p.m. dozing inside the truck near Normington Way and Mountcastle Drive west of Pearl Avenue, San Jose police spokesman Sgt. Jason Dwyer said.
Officers took Sanchez into custody without incident and found two sets of handcuffs taken from the unmarked police van on Wednesday, Dwyer said.
Sanchez was arrested on suspicion of four counts of car theft, as well as burglary, possession of narcotics and stolen property and two probation violation warrants, Dwyer said.
On Wednesday night, a police officer arrested and handcuffed Sanchez on a probation violation and placed him in the unmarked police van in the 800 block of Hillsdale Avenue in San Jose.
As the police officer completed paperwork, Sanchez maneuvered the cuffs from behind his back to the front of his body, leapt into the driver's seat of the van and used the key in the ignition to drive away in it.
Police located the van about two hours later near Almaden Expressway and Wren Drive in South San Jose.