VAN NUYS, Calif. – Police Monday sought the public’s help to identify additional possible victims of a 37-year-old ride-share driver suspected of sexually assaulting a 13-year-old boy in Van Nuys.
The victim was walking home in the area of Gilmore Street and Sylmar Avenue, near Van Nuys Elementary School, on Aug. 13 when he was approached by Jonh Erik Bastidas Arenas driving a 2021 White Toyota Prius, according to the Los Angeles Police Department. Arenas allegedly opened the passenger door of the Prius, brandished a knife and directed the boy to enter the car.
“Out of fear the victim complied with his demand,” the LAPD reported. “While inside the vehicle, the suspect sexually assaulted the victim.”
The boy was eventually able to escape from the vehicle on foot and notified authorities of the alleged assault. Investigators reviewed surveillance video from the area and identified Arenas as a suspect, and the victim later confirmed Arenas was the attacker.
Authorities arrested Arenas on Thursday and he was booked into the LAPD Van Nuys Community Police Station jail. Investigators also discovered Arenas had been employed as a contract driver for multiple ride-share services since September 2021.
Anyone with information on any possible further assaults committed by Arenas was asked to call LAPD Juvenile Division detectives at 818-374-5415. Calls made during non-business hours or on weekends should be made to 877-527- 3247.
Anonymous tips can be called in to Crime Stoppers at 800-222-8477 or submitted online at lacrimestoppers.org.