ALAMEDA -- Police believe a 43-year-old man took his two young children from their mother's South San Francisco home on Tuesday and fled to an Alameda yacht harbor, where he ditched a rental car and sailed away in a stolen 40-foot boat.
South San Francisco police said Christopher Maffei took 3-year-old Brooklynn and 2-year-old Devin and drove a white Ford Fusion to Club Nautique harbor on Ballena Boulevard, where the car was found. Investigators learned that Maffei had been to the harbor two weeks before, kids in tow, to ask about purchasing a boat.
The stolen sailboat is a white Hunter 41 with blue canvas, christened "Unleashed." It has a hull number of HUN41366C707. While police believe it was spotted around 6 p.m. Wednesday in the area of Mare Island near Vallejo, an extensive air and ground search Thursday proved fruitless and the boat, Maffei and children are still missing.
Brooklynn was last seen wearing a white, sleeveless dress with blue and green designs. Devin was wearing a short-sleeved "Sponge Bob SquarePants" shirt and a diaper.
According to South San Francisco police, Maffei has expressed interest in sailing to Monterey Bay and Mexico.
South San Francisco police consider the children abducted and have issued a warrant for Maffei's arrest.
The theft of the "Unleashed" follows police receiving 16 reports of motors stolen from boats at local marinas over about the past two months, Alameda police Lt. Ted Horlbeck
One theft was reported the morning of Aug. 26 at the Alameda Marina on Clement Avenue, where five days earlier the Harbor Master confronted men acting suspiciously near a boat, Horlbeck said.
The men fled in a green Honda Accord -- which the employee pursued in his own vehicle -- and hit a pole at Oak Street and Clement Avenue before they continued into Oakland, where they abandoned the car and ran off.
Investigators arrested Desmond Treymayne Hutson, 38, on Aug. 28 in connection with the case at his home in Oakland, where they also served a search warrant. Officers did not find any of the stolen motors at his residence.
Hutson was booked on suspicion of attempted grant theft.
South San Francisco police ask anyone with information about the sailboat or Maffei's whereabouts contact them at 650-877-8900. Alameda police ask anyone with information about the "Unleashed," the missing sailboat, or the boat motor thefts to call 510-337-8340.
Reach Peter Hegarty at 510-748-1654 or follow him on Twitter.com/Peter_Hegarty/.