OAKLAND PARK, Fla. (TCD) — Following a dayslong search, deputies arrested a 33-year-old man this week on suspicion of stealing a vehicle and kidnapping a 3-year-old boy from an IHOP.
According to a news release from the Broward County Sheriff’s Office, on Saturday, June 17, at approximately 8 a.m., deputies responded to the IHOP on West Oakland Park Boulevard after a mother exited the restaurant and noticed her car and son were gone. Deputies found the vehicle and the unharmed child minutes later in Fort Lauderdale.
They reportedly established a perimeter in the area and called in aviation and K-9 units to help search for the suspect, Phillip Pepe Jr., but he had already fled the scene.
The Sheriff’s Office received an anonymous tip and responded to a hotel in Lantana in hopes of finding Pepe, but he was not there. Investigators were reportedly able to use his hotel reservation to locate him in Lake Worth.
With the help of the Palm Beach Sheriff’s Office and U.S. Marshals Service, officials arrested Pepe and booked him into the Palm Beach County Jail on Thursday, June 22. He faces multiples charges, including kidnapping, false imprisonment of a child, and grand theft auto.