Aggressive panhandlers suspected in attempted kidnapping of 1-year-old at South Bakersfield Walmart, police say

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BAKERSFIELD, Calif. (KGET) — Bakersfield police tell 17 News, aggressive panhandlers are suspected in the attempted kidnapping of a 1-year-old boy at a South Bakersfield Walmart parking lot Monday afternoon.

Around 2:45 p.m. on Monday, police responded to an attempted kidnapping at the Walmart parking lot in South Bakersfield.

“A female victim was approaching her vehicle with her small child when two suspects approached her,” said Seargent Nathan Mccauley, public information officer for Bakersfield Police. “Initially they had solicited her for some items when she refused the suspects became upset.”

Police say they threatened the mother that they would take her child. 

“They did put hands on the child in an effort to take the child away, the mother was able to take the child away and enter her vehicle,” said Mccauley.

The woman suffered minor injuries, the 1-year-old was unharmed.

Autumn Padilla, 21, and Manuel Sepeda, 28, were found at a home in the 2100 Block of Elaine street shortly after the incident. They were arrested and booked into Kern County Jail for attempted kidnapping and other felonies.

We looked up their criminal records and found that Sepeda has a long one. Just two weeks ago, he was charged with five felonies, including assault and carjacking. 

“I don’t know much about these previous charges, it looks like he was out on bail for another charge,” said Mccauley.

Witnesses say they’ve seen the couple in the area before and believe they are homeless.

Police say this type of crime is rare.

“Over the past 18 months, it appears that there has been about eight reports of kids undergoing any type of attempted kidnapping in general and a lot of those involved known suspects, the few that weren’t were kids that were left in vehicles that suspects tried to take. [Make sure you] have a plan coming and make sure you’re prepared for these type of situations.”

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