Suspect Fleeing Florida Police Stops to Pet Cats

During the early morning hours on Tuesday, Daniel Pinedo-Velapatino manged to take thousands of dollars from his friend, steal a car, have two police agencies chase him on water and land, damage a police cruiser and burglarize a couple’s home, according to police.

But the 21-year-old said he had a reason: He told police he stole the money to pay his mom back.

Pinedo-Velapatino faces charges including grand theft, fleeing and eluding, possession of various drugs and other charges. He remains in the Palm Beach County jail on $76,000 bail.

The spree started around 5:30 a.m. on Tuesday when a friend said he saw him leave a Boca Raton hotel room after a night of doing drugs.

When the friend noticed almost all of his $15,000 was missing, he told police he thought Pinedo-Velapatino had taken it.

A few hours later, Delray Beach Police attempted to pull over a man speeding in a silver Lexus down Federal Highway. After hitting a few dead ends, the car crashed into a fire hydrant and police cruiser.

Police say Pinedo-Velapatino intentionally hit their vehicle twice, causing the rear bumper to come off. But as he tried to get away, police say the Lexus got stuck in the mud. The man got out of the car, jumped multiple metal fences, swam in a canal and ran through yards to get away from police.

In the abandoned Lexus, police found Xanax, morphine and oxycodone pills, according to an arrest report.

While officers set up a perimeter, Pinedo-Velapatino stopped at a home on the 7800 block of North East Palm Way. The homeowner asked the man if she could help him and he said he worked with the landscaping crew and was thirsty. As she went to get him a bottle of water, the man stretched out on her living room floor and began petting her cats, according to police.

She said she became suspicious and called police. When she and her husband tried to get him to leave, the group noticed police in the area. She said he ran out the back end of the home, according to the report.

The Boca Raton marine unit found him in the canal near the 800 block of North East 78th Street, just east of Federal Highway, and arrested him.

When Pinedo-Velapatino confessed to taking the money from his friend, he told police he needed $2,000 to pay his mom back.

Police say he was wanted for stealing another car in June.

Pinedo-Velapatino was previously arrested on drug possession charges, but was not convicted, according to county records.

Copyright 2014 The Palm Beach Post (West Palm Beach, Fla.)

McClatchy-Tribune News Service