(WTSP) TAMPA, Fla. — One Hillsborough County deputy jumped into action after he was told a man had stolen a truck with two young kids inside — and the whole thing was caught on camera.
Around 6:42 p.m. on Oct. 10, a man flagged down Deputy Jonathan Pazmino Alvarez near E 137th Avenue and N 15th Street in Tampa, according to a Hillsborough County news release. He told the deputy that his 2011 white Chevrolet Silverado had been stolen with his 4-year-old and 8-year-old inside, the sheriff’s office said.
Alvarez pursued the truck and was able to conduct a traffic stop within minutes.
Body camera footage shows the moments the deputy approached the car and got 37-year-old Kevin Smith out of the driver’s seat.
Alvarez can be heard asking Smith to step out of the car several times while Smith repeatedly responded “it’s not me.”
“I know where your dad is. I saw him running this way,” Alvarez told the children before he got Smith to hand over the car keys.
Smith was arrested without incident and the children were safely returned to their father, the sheriff’s office wrote.
“You can imagine the sigh of relief that this father was praying for, hoping for,” Hillsborough County Sheriff’s Office Public Relations Coordinator Merissa Lynn said. “This was best case scenario that these two kids were able to get into the hands of their father, their family, and are in safe hands tonight.”
Smith, who reportedly has a criminal history dating back to 2003, was charged with one count of grand theft of a motor vehicle and two counts of felony kidnapping. He is being held at the Falkenburg Road Jail without bond.
While it’s still unclear how Smith got inside the truck and why, Lynn said there are lessons that may be learned from this close call.
“Always shut that car off. Always take your kids with you, you know, and do everything in your power to protect yourself, your property, and your family,” Lynn said. “Never leave that car running for any amount of time.”
“This situation could’ve been a lot worse had it not been for the swift action taken by Deputy Pazmino Alvarez. He halted what could have been an otherwise terrifying situation for any parent,” Sheriff Chad Chronister said in a statement. “Thanks to him, two children are safe and in the arms of their loved ones today.”