What police initially suspected was a kidnapping-robbery turned out to be a con on an auto parts store manager in Santa Ana, police said Tuesday.

Police were called about 6:30 p.m. Monday regarding an armed robbery at the AutoZone at 1101 S. Bristol St., said Santa Ana police Cpl. Anthony Bertagna.

What actually happened was a store manager received a call from thieves who ordered him to take money out of the cash drawer and wait outside for them or else they would enter the store and shoot the employees, Bertagna said.

The manager grabbed the cash and waited outside the store, but the thieves never showed up, he said.

“They continued to talk to him on the phone and sent him to a location where he wired them money” from the store’s account, Bertagna said.

Police did not disclose how much money was wired to the con men, who investigators suspect were calling from Mexico, Bertagna said.

Another AutoZone manager elsewhere in Santa Ana received the same threat, but he hung up on the callers and dialed 911, Bertagna said. Police advised other potential victims of the scam to do the same.

“Originally we thought we had a robbery-kidnapping, but it turns out the victim was never taken physically,” Betagna said. “He was following instructions and complied with the suspect’s demands. We located him and he’s safe and sound.”

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