The man who stole a vehicle with an infant inside on Saturday, leading authorities on a pursuit and search has been caught.
According to the Bay County Sheriff’s office, on January 26th, 2019, at approximately 4:45pm, a Panama City woman stopped at the Texaco convenience store located on St. Andrews Blvd in Panama City. The woman entered the store to make a quick purchase, leaving her vehicle running and her three month old child secured in a car seat in the rear seat of her vehicle.
After the woman entered the store, a man was seen walking over to the woman’s vehicle and getting into it. The suspect then drove the vehicle away from the store with the child still inside. Minutes later, the suspect stopped at the Taco Bell on east Panama City Beach and dropped the child off to the store manager. The suspect then left the restaurant and was spotted by a BCSO deputy.
A vehicle pursuit ensued and the BCSO, along with officers from the Panama City Beach Police Department, pursued the vehicle to the area of Pier Park. The suspect was able to elude officers and was found to have parked the stolen vehicle in the parking garage of a Panama City Beach condo.
The vehicle and the child were returned to the child’s mother.
A large scale search was conducted by the BCSO and PCBPD for the suspect in the area for several hours, but he was not located. At approximately 9:45pm, a call was received to the BCSO advising that the suspect was possibly in the area of Thomas Dr. and Magnolia Beach Rd.
Deputies responded to that location and found the suspect, identified as Scott William Thomas, Jr., sitting in the parking lot of a grocery store. He was taken into custody without incident.
Scott Thomas is from Brevard County, Florida, and stated that he was in Bay County doing tree removal work for Hurricane Michael recovery. Upon being interviewed, he offered no explanation why he stole the vehicle.
He was charged with kidnapping, grand theft of an automobile, fleeing and eluding an officer, and driving with a revoked license, and was booked into the Bay County Jail.