Police Tracking Yacht Wanted In Abduction Case Off San Mateo Coast

PILLAR POINT (CBS SF / AP) – A yacht allegedly stolen by a man who had kidnapped his two children from South San Francisco earlier this week was spotted Friday morning in the waters off of Pillar Point Harbor, a police spokesman said.

Christopher Maffei, 43, allegedly abducted his children Brooklynn, 3, and Devin, 2, at about 3 p.m. Tuesday in the 100 block of James Court.

Mother Jen Hipon claims she was at the courthouse getting a restraining order when her kids were abducted. She said her mother – the grandmother of the kids – was babysitting when her ex-boyfriend, Maffei, broke into the backyard.

According to Hipon’s account, Maffei waved at his daughter through the sliding glass door. The little girl opened the door. He grabbed the children quickly one in each arm, and took off running.

Police said Maffei then drove in a rental car to Ballena Isle Marina in Alameda, where he stole a yacht named “Unleashed” and sailed away with the children.

A commercial fishing vessel apparently spotted the yacht around 4 a.m. Friday about 50 miles off the coast from Pillar Point Harbor in San Mateo County, South San Francisco police spokesman Sgt. Bruce McPhillips said.

maffei abduction 090712 Police Tracking Yacht Wanted In Abduction Case Off San Mateo Coast

Christopher Maffei (left) is accused of abducting 3-year-old Brooklynn Maffei (center) and 2-year-old Devin Maffei and taking them on a yacht on September 5, 2012. (South San Francisco Police)

The operator of the fishing vessel notified the U.S. Coast Guard, and after police were alerted of the sighting, photos were sent to the fishing vessel that helped its operator confirm that it was indeed the stolen yacht, McPhillips said.

Hipon said detectives have informed her that they are watching her ex-boyfriend by plane and that it appears he has set a new course headed back to shore. As such, the detective informed Hipon that they are planning to wait until he gets back to shore to confront him.

She said the detective informed her that the surveillance plane could see Chris Maffei, but so far had not spotted the children.

Chief Petty Officer Mike Lutz said a Coast Guard airplane spent the day following the boat south to Monterey Bay, but he would not reveal whether boats from the agency will try to intercept it.

Lutz said law enforcement hasn’t yet made radio contact with the yacht that is believed to be carrying Maffei and the children.

Anyone with information about the case is asked to call South San Francisco police at (650) 877-8900.

(Copyright 2012 by CBS San Francisco and Bay City News Service. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.)

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