The Hillsborough County Sheriff’s Office arrested a man who traveled from South Carolina to Lutz, to commit a crime he planned for more than eight months.
On Sunday, August 16, 2020, at 2:43 a.m., a male suspect, identified as Phillip A. Thomas II, 24, entered a residence within the Promenade at Lake Park subdivision in Lutz, located along Pine Hammock Boulevard.
Detectives learned Thomas parked his car at Idle Wild Church earlier that night, walked to the residence, cut a hole in the patio screen, and remained there for approximately 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. When deputies arrived, Thomas was still inside the residence. Deputies discovered he was carrying a knife, plastic zip ties, duct tape, mace and other personal items.
Through the investigation process, detectives discovered Thomas 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.”
Thomas was charged with Aggravated Stalking, Armed Burglary of a Dwelling, Attempted Armed Kidnapping, and Criminal Mischief.
Anyone with information about the case is urged to call the Hillsborough County Sheriff’s Office at (813) 247-8200.