PASCO COUNTY, Fla. (WFLA) – A sex offender who had been on the run is behind bars after Pasco deputies say they discovered him hiding in a storage bin in his brother-in-law’s garage.
A tip led deputies to Thomas Mock, age 37, who was shirtless and sweating profusely when deputies found him hiding in the storage bin around 4 p.m. on Friday. Detectives say Mock had been hiding in a tiny plastic box for 45 minutes in the sweltering garage at 8132 Sylvan Drive in Bayonet Point.
The convicted sex offender was so sly and so clever, veteran investigators admit that they walked right past him in the Hudson home where they were serving a warrant for his arrest.
“How did I feel when I found him? I was relieved,” said Detective Scott Raymer. “I have been looking for him for two months.”
Body cameras that the deputies wear captured the entire event on video.
This wild case originated in 1996 when Mock was convicted in a case involving a pre-teen girl. He was 16 years old at the time and had sexual relations with a 12-year-old girl. After three years in prison, Mock was required by law to register twice a year as a sex offender.
Detective Raymer tells WFLA he kept tabs on the man. However, in June, Mock failed to re-register, according to documents. Then, in July, Mock left the Tampa Bay area with no forwarding address, investigators said. They were worried because he went off the grid completely. Mock also had a grand theft warrant in Hillsborough County.
So, why did he disappear? Mock told investigators that he had family issues going on in Minneapolis and forgot to update his sex offender registration.
“There are rules. That reason wasn’t good enough. By law, he has to register. I began looking for him,” said Detective Raymer.
Because Mock did not re-register, the warrants unit at the Pasco County Sheriff’s Office, along with the sex offender unit, went looking for him and they found him in a plastic box. Deputies say his little 2-year-old daughter was in the next room when Mock was discovered hiding in the garage.
“We got our man,” said Detective Raymer.
“I’ve seen some strange places where offenders hide,” said Detective Kip Mello. “The weirdest place was in a television. It was definitely strange.
By all indications, Mock will most likely be going back to prison, facing three years at the very least for one charge, detectives said. The convicted sex offender currently faces three charges in this case.
Deputies say when Mock was arrested his family members were hiding him. His brother-in-law and a woman who claimed to be his employee were not cooperating with the investigation, detectives say. Those two individuals who were in the house now face felony charges as well, accused of harboring a sex offender, according to documents.