Make us your home page
Instagram

Today’s top headlines delivered to you daily.

(View our Privacy Policy)

Off-duty Pinellas deputy: Sex offender was wearing authentic sheriff's badge in Dunedin

Off-duty Pinellas sheriff’s detective John Grubb found a stun gun and dating ads in the car Manning drove, according to officials.

JIM DAMASKE | Times

Off-duty Pinellas sheriff’s detective John Grubb found a stun gun and dating ads in the car Manning drove, according to officials.

DUNEDIN — Detective John Grubb was off-duty, strolling the Publix. He grabbed the bananas, the zucchini, and headed to the pharmacy to pick up a prescription for his boxer, Maxine.

Another shopper caught his attention. Grubb knew Thomas Manning Hook was a registered sex offender. He knew Hook had a history of impersonating cops. Then Grubb saw something that made him abandon his shopping cart: Hook had a sheriff's badge clipped to his waist.

Grubb thought: This guy has to be stopped.

Grubb might have prevented a sex crime when he recognized Hook stealing cookies and children's sticker books at the Dunedin Publix on Wednesday night, authorities said.

Hook had a stun gun in his car, which resembled a police cruiser, the Pinellas County Sheriff's Office said. Deputies also found dating advertisements and ads placed on Craigslist by women seeking a male roommate.

Hook, 43, 2670 N McMullen-Booth Road, No. 1211, Clearwater, was arrested on charges of petit theft and unlawful use of a police badge. He was convicted of a sex offense and other crimes in South Carolina in 1992.

In that case, Hook tried to force a woman into a sex act while impersonating an officer, deputies said. But that wasn't Hook's first time, or even his second, getting caught impersonating an officer. Records show he has a lengthy history of convictions on the same charge in other states.

Hook moved to Clearwater this summer. When he arrived, he did an intake interview with Detective Grubb, who works for the sexual predator/offender tracking unit of the Sheriff's Office. Detectives do those interviews so they'll be familiar with the sex offenders in their communities.

That's why Grubb recognized Hook right away when he walked into the Main Street Publix about 8 p.m.

Grubb arrested Hook when he walked out of the store with Halloween cookies, greeting cards for children, five sticker books and no receipt. Some of the items were stuffed into his waistband, Grubb said.

Hook was driving a Ford Crown Victoria with a North Carolina license plate. The car wasn't registered to Hook, but it has not been reported stolen. Deputies were still trying to track down the owner Thursday.

When deputies searched the car before impounding it, they found the stun gun and an air gun. The air gun's red tip had been removed, which made it look like a 9mm semiautomatic firearm, Grubb said.

The badge Hook was wearing on his waist was an authentic sheriff's badge from Manatee County. It is unclear how he obtained it.

"The fear is that he is, after all these years, leading others to believe he's a law enforcement officer," Grubb said. "There can't be any good explanation. It can only be a bad thing for him."

Hook was convicted of impersonating a police officer six times in South Carolina between 1987 and 1995, according to law enforcement records.

Hook made headlines in 1995, when he was sentenced to six months in prison and ordered to undergo mental health counseling after he pretended to be a deputy who wanted to help search for Susan Smith's two sons.

Smith reported her two boys had been abducted but later confessed to drowning them. She was sentenced to life in prison.

In 2000, Hook was arrested after several months of posing as a Marine in North Carolina, according to news articles in that state. He served five months in prison.

Just two months after his release, he was arrested again after he told staff at the Duke University Medical Center that he was a detective. Authorities found him in possession of an authentic Greensboro, N.C., police badge and a .40-caliber gun stolen from a police distributor, the articles show.

Wednesday, Hook was also arrested on an outstanding Polk County warrant for failure to appear on charges of driving while license suspended or revoked and unlawful possession of a weapon. Thursday evening, he was being held in the Pinellas County Jail in lieu of $20,300 bail.

Times researcher Carolyn Edds contributed to this report. Rita Farlow can be reached at farlow@sptimes.com or (727) 445-4157.

ast facts

Do you have info?

The Sheriff's Office is asking anyone with information about Thomas Hook to call Detective John Grubb at (727) 582-6200.

Off-duty Pinellas deputy: Sex offender was wearing authentic sheriff's badge in Dunedin 10/14/10 [Last modified: Thursday, October 14, 2010 9:10pm]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times

    

Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

Loading...
  1. Why did Debbie Wasserman Schultz keep paying tech expert suspected of stealing House computers?

    Blogs

    The following is from the Miami Herald:

  2. GOP senators blink on a big chance to repeal 'Obamacare'

    Nation

    WASHINGTON — After seven years of emphatic campaign promises, Senate Republicans demonstrated Wednesday they don't have the stomach to repeal "Obamacare" when it really counts, as the Senate voted 55-45 to reject legislation undoing major portions of Barack Obama's law without replacing it.

    U.S. Sen. Majority Whip John Cornyn (R-TX) talks with reporters as he walks to the U.S. Capitol on Wednesday in Washington, DC. [Photo by Justin Sullivan/Getty Images]
  3. Rick Baker's debate answer revives painful St. Pete controversy

    Elections

    ST. PETERSBURG — Former Mayor Bill Foster fired one of his top administrators, Goliath Davis III, six years ago for disobeying an order to attend the funeral of a slain police officer.

    St. Petersburg police officers stand by two caskets before the beginning of the 2011 funeral services for Sgt. Thomas Baitinger and Officer Jeffrey Yaslowitz at the First Baptist Church of St. Petersburg. [DIRK SHADD   |  Times]
  4. Plan your weekend July 28-30: Comic Con, Lady Antebellum, Margarita Wars, Tampa's Fourth Friday

    Events

    Plan your weekend

    Geek out

    Tampa Bay Comic Con: The fan convention returns to the Tampa Convention Center this weekend, bringing actors Val Kilmer, Kate Beckinsale, Nichelle Nichols (Star Trek's Lt. Uhura), Khary Payton (Ezekiel in The Walking Dead) and the …

    Ibri Day poses for a photo at opening day of the 2015 Tampa Bay Comic Con at the Tampa Convention Center. (Friday, July 31, 2015.) [Photo Luis Santana | Times]
  5. Editorial: Trump assaults rule of law by attacking attorney general

    Editorials

    Jeff Sessions was a terrible choice for attorney general, and the policies he has pursued in his brief tenure — cracking down on immigrants, bullying sheriffs, prosecuting low-level offenders to the max — are counterproductive. But the stinging personal attacks President Donald Trump leveled at Sessions this …

    The stinging personal attacks President Donald Trump leveled at Attorney General Jess Sessions this week assault the integrity of the Department of Justice and the rule of law.