Broward Sheriff's Office: Public Information Office

PIO Number: 23-6-17(A)

Date: June 23, 2023

Phillip Pepe Jr.JPG

The search is over for a man who stole a car with a child inside Saturday morning outside a restaurant in Oakland Park.

A Broward Sheriff’s Office Special Victims Unit detective received an anonymous tip that Phillip J. Pepe Jr. was at a hotel in Lantana, FL, in Palm Beach County. When investigators arrived at the hotel, Pepe was gone. Based on information obtained from the hotel reservation, detectives with BSO’s V.I.P.E.R. (Violence Intervention Proactive Enforcement Response) team, along with the Palm Beach Sheriff’s Office and U.S. Marshals Service, located Pepe in Lake Worth, where they arrested him Thursday evening. 

According to detectives, just after 8 a.m. on Saturday, June 17, BSO Oakland Park deputies were dispatched to the IHOP located at 3101 W. Oakland Park Blvd. in reference to a stolen vehicle with a three-year-old boy inside. The child’s mother was exiting the restaurant when she discovered her vehicle and son were gone.

Minutes later, deputies located the vehicle and the unharmed child at 1901 N.W. 40th Ave. in Fort Lauderdale. Deputies established a perimeter and called in Aviation and K-9 units for assistance. However, Pepe had abandoned the vehicle and fled from the scene. 

Thursday night, Pepe was booked at a Palm Beach County jail. He is facing charges of kidnapping, false imprisonment of a child and grand theft auto.  

Veda Coleman-Wright/Dir. of PIO