A documented gang member who police say has a criminal record spanning 30 years has been charged after allegedly kidnapping an 82-year-old man during a burglary and forcing him to buy food, alcohol and clothing, police said Tuesday.
The victim was able to alert his family and a security guard during the lengthy ordeal.
The incident occurred June 9 when suspect Sergio Magaña Arechiga allegedly burglarized a Santa Ana home while the victim was about to sit down for a Zoom meeting with fellow church members.
Arechiga, 50, allegedly kicked the victim to the ground, pinned him down and threatened to kill his wife if he didn’t cooperate, Santa Ana Police said in a news release.
“He told me he would not harm me, but if I didn’t do what he told me to do, he would harm my family,” the victim, who did not want to be identified, said.
Arechiga then forced the victim into the victim’s car as the suspect filled it with items from inside the house. Arechiga drove the victim around for several hours, forcing him to withdraw money from ATMs and buy the suspect food, alcohol and clothing, police allege.
Officials on Tuesday also released surveillance video of the suspect and victim at a Warehouse Shoe Sale. In the video, Arechiga is wearing a red bandana on his face and is holding an armful of clothing. At the register, the victim is seen paying for the items with a credit card, as the suspect grabs them from the counter after they have been bagged.
The victim knew to use a certain card that would send alerts to his wife, leading family members to alert the authorities.
While at that store, the victim was also able to alert a security guard about what was going on.
“When he was far enough away from me, I whispered to the individual, ‘I am being held up, call the police,'” the victim said. “He winked at me on the way out the door which to me said, he understood what I said.”
Police responded to that location, but the two men were gone by the time they arrived.
The victim’s son was able to track his father’s location with a cellphone and found the victim sitting in the passenger seat of his vehicle on West First and North Harbor Boulevard.
Arechiga had apparently gotten out of the vehicle just before the victim’s son got to the location, police said.
“If his son hadn’t found him, who knows what would have happened,” Cpt. Anthony Bertagna said. “I mean, this is a violent felon.”
Robbery detectives were soon able to identify Arechiga as the suspect and began searching for him.
He was arrested on June 12 at a family member’s house after a disturbance call was made. The suspect was found with some of the victim’s property, including a watch and family photos.
His bail was set at $1.3 million, police said.
Arechiga’s criminal record includes arrests for robbery, assault with a deadly weapon and assault on a police officer, officials said, adding that he is a three-strike candidate.