Dad Kidnapped Kids, Stole Yacht, Cops Say

PHOTO: (L-R) Christopher Maffei and his two children Brooklyn and Devin are seen in these photos provided by South San Francisco Police Department.
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Two young children are safe now after their father allegedly took them from their mother's home and attempted to flee in a stolen yacht.

Christopher Maffei, of South San Francisco, allegedly took his children from their mother's home Sept. 4 while the woman, Jennifer Hipon, was in a Redwood City court filing a restraining order, South San Francisco police Sgt. Bruce Phillips said.

The children's grandmother was watching the girl and boy, Brooklynn and Devin, who are 4 and 2 years old.

Maffei, 43, then drove to the Ballena Isle Marina in Alameda where he is accused of stealing 40-foot yacht and sailing away South down the coast. It is unknown at this time where he was heading, McPhillips said.

First the FBI, then the Coast Guard got involved as authorities followed the alleged abductor's trail.

A fisherman reported to the Coast Guard early Friday morning that he had spotted the yacht and an airplane from Sacramento was dispatched to follow the boat, McPhillips said. Authorities planned to approach Maffei if he stopped for gas, but when he changed course, heading south, the Coast Guard dispatched a small boat to approach him.

At 7:20 p.m. about 20 miles south of Monterey Bay, the Coast Guard came alongside the vessel and asked to come aboard, to which Maffei agreed. The children were taken off the ship and Maffei was arrested on two charges each of kidnapping, child endangerment and parental abduction, McPhillips said.

He was taken to the San Mateo County Jail and was ordered held on $200,000 bail.

Once police determined that Brooklynn and Devin were unharmed, they were returned to their mother, police said.

The stolen yacht, named Unleashed, was managed by a service called Club Nautique, McPhillips said, and was used for charters and sailing lessons. Maffei had been on the vessel before for a sailing lesson but any additional relationship he had with the owner is unknown at this time.

The restraining order against Maffei the children's mother requested was granted Sept. 6 by the San Mateo County Court, according to court documents.

It was believed that Maffei might try to take his children outside of the United States after it was revealed that the man had quit his job, closed his bank accounts, got rid of his assets, and sold his home, ABC station KGO-TV in San Francisco reported.

Maffei had also lived in Thailand and had several bank accounts there.

A hearing for the restraining order is set for Sept. 21.

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