ST. PETERSBURG — Pop superstar Taylor Swift’s dad paid $4 million for a penthouse in one of the Vinoy Place towers loaded with security measures, but a career criminal recently waltzed through the entrance to climb 13 flights to burglarize the condominium.
That’s what St. Petersburg police say Terrence Hoover, 30, of St. Augustine, did on Jan. 17.
Through property records and other databases, the Tampa Bay Times determined Scott Swift owns the penthouse. He did not respond to messages left at phone numbers listed for him or respond to an email.
Swift found Hoover in the penthouse when he returned home at about 10 p.m. the night of the burglary, according to Pinellas County court records. The residence can only be accessed through an emergency stairwell or an elevator that requires a key card, court records show.
Hoover’s arrest history goes back years, according to the Florida Department of Law Enforcement records. Some prior arrests include domestic violence by strangulation, aggravated battery, burglary, aggravated assault with a deadly weapon and kidnapping and false imprisonment, records show.
On the day of the burglary, Hoover got past the “fully gated and guarded entrance” and then ran through the parking garage to the emergency stairwell, according to an arrest affidavit. The stairwell remains locked at all times unless someone doesn’t fully close the door, the report said. A security camera recorded Hoover walk up the stairs and exit the stairwell into the penthouse just before 10 p.m., the report states.
Seconds later, Swift returned home through the elevator and watched Hoover run out of his residence. A struggle ensued between the men before Hoover ran away. Hoover later called the police “to report his encounter with a man living at the Vinoy,” according to the report.
Swift later picked Hoover from a photo pack of pictures, the report said.
It’s unknown whether Hoover targeted the residence or stumbled into it. He had an encounter with police 20 hours earlier. At 1:31 a.m. on Jan. 17, Clearwater police cited Hoover for making an illegal U-turn on railroad tracks, records show.
St. Petersburg police could not find Hoover after the burglary. A judge signed an arrest warrant on Jan. 31. Marion County deputies arrested him on Feb. 12, records show. He faces a burglary charge and is in jail on $50,000 bail.
Donna DeNapoli, Hoover’s mother, told the Tampa Bay Times that her son has no ties to the bay area and was “looking for churches by the water where his wife could be staying.” His wife left him and his three children six months ago, she said.
At times, the estranged wife calls DeNapoli to drop hints about the church complex where she is staying, DeNapoli said. Hoover has crossed the state looking for churches near water, she said.
Hours before Hoover entered the penthouse, he scoured downtown St. Petersburg looking for churches, the mother said. When Hoover entered the Vinoy complex, DeNapoli said she was on the phone with him.
“He was lost and should be charged with only trespassing,” she said.
Jill Silverman, the general manager of the condo towers, did not respond to multiple requests for comment.
Swift purchased the property in February 2018 under the name of Ocean Pines, LLC based in Hendersonville, Tenn., according to Pinellas property records. The address of the limited-liability corporation is also the same address for other properties that Swift owns in the Tampa Bay area. Ocean Pines is listed as the owner in Hoover’s arrest warrant.
When Swift purchased the penthouse, it was a record-breaking price for a Vinoy condo. The penthouse encompasses the entire top floor of one tower and includes 5,359 square feet, three bedrooms and three full baths.
Times senior news researcher Caryn Baird contributed to this report. Contact Mark Puente at firstname.lastname@example.org.