A gang member with a lengthy criminal record was charged Tuesday with abducting an 82-year-old man from his home in Santa Ana and forcing him to withdraw cash from an ATM and buy him clothes and pay for a hotel room, police said.
Sergio Magana Arechiga was burglarizing a home in the city’s Floral Park neighborhood when the victim walked in on it about 5 p.m. June 9, said Santa Ana Police Department Cpl. Anthony Bertagna.
The burglar knocked the victim down and choked him and threatened to kill the man’s wife if he didn’t cooperate, Bertagna said.
The victim thought his wife was home, so he went along with the suspect as he forced him into the victim’s car and made him drive for several hours to go on a shopping spree, Bertagna said.
“First, he took him to an ATM and got the max, $300, out and then took him to a liquor store where he wanted to buy beer,” Bertagna said.
“Then he took him to a hotel where the guy used a credit card to get a room and then got him back into the car to take him to a burger stand, where he bought three meals and then they went to a clothing and shoe store where he got a bunch of clothes and shoes.”
The victim’s credit card was set up to alert his son and wife of his purchases, so the victim’s son, who was having dinner with his mother, realized his father was spending money in unfamiliar neighborhoods, Bertagna said.
The son used a tracking device on the victim’s phone to trace where he was, Bertagna said.
“So he went and found his father and while the crook had gone into another store the son calls us and the suspect splits,” Bertagna said.
When police responded to a domestic dispute Friday officers recognized Arechiga from a flyer circulated among the department as the suspect in the kidnapping and robberies, Bertagna said.
Police were able to establish the suspect’s identity through a variety of evidence, including surveillance video that showed the suspect wearing a face covering during the robberies, Bertagna said.
When Arechiga was arrested he still had the victim’s credit card on him, Bertagna said.
Arechiga, who has a criminal record dating back 30 years, was charged with single counts each of kidnapping for ransom/extortion or to commit robbery and robbery of an automatic teller machine as well as four counts of robbery, all felonies, according to court records.
Arechiga made his first appearance in court on Tuesday when his arraignment was rescheduled for July 14 in the jail courtroom in Santa Ana.