Social Media Stalker Broke into House to Take Homeowner Hostage, Deputies Say
When arrested inside the home, Hillsborough deputies sayhe was carrying a knife, plastic zip ties, duct tape and mace.
LUTZ – Hillsborough deputies have arrested a man they said stalked a homeowner on social media before breaking into the house to take the homeowner hostage.
Phillip A. Thomas II, 24, was charged with one count each of Aggravated Stalking, Armed Burglary of a Dwelling, Attempted Armed Kidnapping, and Criminal Mischief.
Thomas planned the crime for more than eight months, finally traveling from South Carolina to Lutz to execute his plan, according to the Hillsborough County Sheriff’s Office.
Deputies said they were called about 2:43 this morning (Aug. 16) to a home along Pine Hammock Boulevard in the Promenade at Lake Park subdivision after someone broke into the home. When deputies arrived, they found Thomas inside the residence. Deputies said he was carrying a knife, plastic zip ties, duct tape, mace and other personal items.
Detectives said they learned Thomas parked his car at Idle Wild Church earlier Saturday (Aug. 15), walked to the residence, cut a hole in the patio screen, and remained there for about three to four hours, watching and listening through the windows. After the homeowner went to bed, Thomas entered through the back sliding-glass door, which activated the home alarm, and prompted the homeowner to look out the window and spot the suspect on the property. The homeowner and their guest fled the home in a car and called 911.
Thomas told deputies that lives in South Carolina and came to Lutz, specifically targeting the homeowner. He told deputies he was planning to take the homeowner hostage.
“Our deputies are unveiling the suspect’s disturbing obsession with this homeowner who he had never met, but stalked on social media for years,” said Sheriff Chad Chronister. “It’s frightening to think of all the ways this incident could have played out had the home alarm not gone off and alerted the homeowner of an intruder. Our deputies arrived within minutes and arrested this man who was clearly on a mission to inflict harm.”
Anyone with information about the case should call the Hillsborough County Sheriff’s Office at (813) 247-8200.
PHOTOS COURTESY OF THE HILLSBOROUGH COUNTY SHERIFF’S OFFICE.
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