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Suspect Arrested After Allegedly Kidnapping Lafayette Man; Forcing Him To Local Bank To Withdraw Funds

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Manuel Bustos, 26, of Pittsburg. Photo: Contra Costa County Sheriff

Lafayette police say the Pittsburg man who confronted a Sweet Drive resident at his front door, overpowered him, and led him through the home in a search for valuables Tuesday came to Lafayette with the intent of doing such a crime and had likely cased the neighborhood before.

Police arrested 26-year-old Manuel Bustos as he was sitting in the victim’s car outside a downtown bank while the victim, an older man in his 60s, was inside purportedly to withdraw money for Bustos. The victim tipped bank employees that he had been kidnapped under duress and they, in turn, notified police.

Bustos was arrested at gunpoint without further incident, roughly a half hour after he arrived at his intended target’s front door dressed in reflective vest and hard hat, pushing his way inside after the victim – believing the man was there to make a service call – unlocked the front door.

Investigators said Bustos forced his victim from room to room of the home in the 3400 block of Sweet Drive, threatening to harm both him and his family if he did not comply and turn over valuables.

Bustos reportedly found an unloaded shotgun in the home but was unable to secure ammunition for it as the homeowner kept shells in another location. He allegedly used the gun to prod the resident into his car, Bustos leaving another vehicle behind, before he jettisoned the weapon in the front yard.

Police descended on the parking lot of the Chase Bank, 3492 Mt Diablo Blvd., at around 2 p.m. Tuesday after the customer entered the bank and told employees he had been beaten inside his home and instructed to withdraw funds by a man still waiting outside.

Police said Bustos came to Lafayette looking to rob a home, driving through the area the day before the robbery. Detectives said Bustos spotted the victim outside his residence on Sweet Drive and decided to rob the older man because he looked like an “easy target.”

In order to gain access to the home, according to police, Bustos dressed as a service worker in vest and hard hat. He was carrying a bucket with a crowbar and a torch in his hands when he confronted his victim and pushed his way inside.

Police said there was no connection between Bustos and the victim other than the robbery.

Bustos was booked into jail on charges of kidnapping, robbery, making criminal threats, burglary, elder abuse, and stolen automobile.

He is being held in lieu of $395,000 bail.

41 COMMENTS

  1. The perp wandered pretty deep into Lafayette from BART. Was this random? Either way, scary situation and glad everyone is OK and that the cops got the bad guy.

    • @Chris – This is unfolding as we speak but apparently the suspect drove his car – or a borrowed car – to the victim’s residence, where it was subsequently found. We believe it has been towed by police for processing. It appears both men drove to the bank in the victim’s car… more later.

  2. Robert Hale: I agree with your interpretation. Seems like the suspect thought he was using “self help” collections technique, not robbing the victim.

    I wonder if the house was a rental. I assume that, in this real estate market, owners would turn to a HELOC instead of a loan shark for emergency liquidity…..the vig is better and you keep your kneecaps intact.

    • @Mike – We’re not sure yet Mike and we’re asking. We don’t believe the suspect is from Lafayette. Their exact relationship, if any, is not known to us at this time.

  3. Hard to say if it was random or targeted, but not very successful. One on one to the bank – the bank calls the police. How surprising.

    I guess it’s a good thing he didn’t tell the guy to use the ATM (and leave his cellphone in the car) to avoid police intervention. Or worse yet, thankfully he didn’t kidnap his family and hold them for ransom.

    Criminals aren’t the sharpest tools in the shed.

  4. Either really scary or a really bad move by the perp in this. Did he work for the man and pick this way to collect payment?

  5. Coming out of WF with an armload of groceries when Lafayette police swarmed in! Got your flash as I was standing there trying not to squash the tomatoes!

    • @Linsey – It appears the suspect in this incident picked his victim, whom he had never seen before, about a half hour prior to the robbery.

  6. We were down there around that time and didn’t see a thing. Completely clueless until we got your bulletin!

  7. Horrible. Initially sounded too dumb to be true, but I overestimated the crook.

    The “construction worker” outfit seems to be a growing trend. To be safe, I am going to refuse to open the door for anyone dressed as a member of Village People.

    • @Chris – We read you loud and clear. We had questions of our own. Extremely frightening situation for this resident, who did his resolute best to control the situation and to keep this person calm during the course of the robbery.

  8. Whether it happened in snobby ass Lafayette or anywhere else in the Bay Area it’s a very sad situation that we have no other evidence to go off of. If we all got paid for our opinions and comments we would be fucking millionaires. Please wait to share your thoughts until the authorities have released more information. This is all way to vague to be assuming. The city of Lafayette isn’t any better than anyone else. Believe it or not it goes on on a regular basis in other cities w/ no headlines at all. No one is safe. Wake up folks!

  9. So glad this homeowner kept his wits about him. He didn’t let the guy restrain him and he built some trust with the creep, which is probably what allowed him to survive this horrific ordeal.

  10. @Pittsburg Res – I thought the comment stream here has been very restrained given the serious nature of the crime. I don’t care where you’re from – don’t come to my home to rob me. How’s that? Kudos to the gentlmen who apparently kept cool throughout this ordeal and managed to escape with his life. Someone else mentioned the Cheshire case and this could very easily have gone that way.

  11. Thank you for the alerts you sent out on this yesterday. They were frightening and just informative enough at a time when we needed the information most. Incredible that someone would come here to commit such an act. Great work by the bank people and police and homeowner. I hope he is ok today. And I hope Manuel Bustos doesn’t see anything but the inside of a jail cell for a long long time.

  12. Great job reporting this horrible crime AS IT WAS HAPPENING. Unbelievable that it could happen in the first place and I believe everyone showed great restraint. The police performed magnificently as did the bank employees. So happy this ended the way it did and not the way it could have gone.

  13. Just so hard to believe anyone could do this. Were drugs involved?? Does he have a record of this sort of crime???

  14. I feel sorry for the next legitimate worker who turns up in a reflective vest on Sweet Drive — the neighbors will be in no mood!!!

  15. @Pittsburg Resident: what about this situation is “sad?” Do you think there are any conceivable life circumstances of Mr. Bustos (perp) that justify, excuse or mitigate this crime? I think it is fair to assume that anyone attempting such a bold crime is going through some tough times.

    Just curious for your thoughts since you seem to have some strong feelings about it.

  16. Mr. Pittsburg resident – if there’s a point to your comment could you make it clear? I fail to see it. Are you saying people shouldn’t be commenting about this incident? I’d really like to know and as this site has allowed your comment despite its f bomb it appears they are interested too.

  17. “Evidence” to go off of: Strong arm burglary, kidnapping, attempted grand theft.

    Not to sound snobby but is getting caught perpetrating those acts not considered “evidence” in Pittsburg?

  18. The comments here are “very restrained.” Pittsburg Resident could easily be a friend or family member of Manuel Bustos. Or someone who resents anyone who works hard for their money, and becomes very successful.

    I ignore comments like that. Why go there?

    I hope the gentleman wasn’t hurt too badly, and Mr. Bustos will do his time. He’s in jail where he belongs.

  19. I don’t understand Pittsburg Residents position so I’m going to pass that by and say that anyone who preys on another person because of their age — presuming it was the person’s age here — deserves to have time added to their sentence. Older people in this country are already going through rough times for a number of reasons and to be singled out for assault and robbery due to their age is doubly wrong.

    • @May – Thanks, May, we will. Right now the poor man would probably just like to be left alone!

    • @Bailey L – You’re quite welcome. He/She had a position, we opted to let them express it.

  20. Perhaps I should have been a little more specific—I didn’t know f bombs were allowed under your rules. My bad.

    • @BaileyL – Ah. F-bombing is strongly discouraged here, BL. Most of our readers know that and abide by our terms of service in that regard. We also don’t like anonymous monikers in relation to reader posts but, again, in this case – we felt the point of view while inelegantly expressed was a contrary position to the ongoing thread and worthy of consideration.

  21. Are times just getting tougher for people and more people are doing crazier things? That guy in SAN Ramon just doesn’t fit the mold of bank robber IMHO.

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