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Police Files

Airbnb rental ‘party house’ is busted for drugs and stolen mail in South Laguna

Detectives received a tip early Thursday morning referencing possible drug and fraudulent activity being conducted at a residence in the 31000 Block of Virginia Way. Officers proceeded to conduct surveillance, before contacting several subjects in front of the residence, which led to a search of the entire residence.

According to LBPD Spokesperson Sgt Jim Cota, “Officers found heroin, needles, and what looks like meth, although it’s still undetermined, if in fact, it was actually meth.”

 “Inside the residence it was basically a ‘crash party house.’ Many of the people inside did not know each other,” said Sgt Cota. 

Rented through Airbnb, the officers found that the person who is renting the house was not at the premises at the time. 

Seven people were contacted – one occupant was not arrested and was released. Five people, between ages 25 and 35, were taken into custody, and the sixth suspect was transported to Mission Hospital because of a medical emergency.

“The suspect that went to the hospital, heroin was found in his underwear,” Sgt Cota said. “We may have just saved his life.”

None of the suspects are from Laguna, but they are from Orange County.

“We got a hold of the homeowner and he came to the house and was very appreciative of the PD and the involved officers. He works in Laguna Beach,” said Sgt Cota.

The suspects checked into the house on Tuesday as an Airbnb rental. The house – which is listed as a 3 bedroom, 3 bathroom “quintessential 1930s Laguna Beach cottage” – rents for $350/night, according to an active listing on the website. The rental has a 5-star rating from past renters, and has a bonafide short-term housing rental permit through the City.

“I am very pleased our officers and detectives were able to stop this criminal activity from continuing and possibly saving a life at the same time. This rental house was being used for criminal activity, so it needed to be shut down,” said Sgt Cota. “The Laguna Beach Police Department is fully committed to its citizens and pleased with the outcome that resulted in five arrests.”

Besides being busted for drugs, the suspects were also found to be in possession of a large quantity of mail that was not their own. “Inside the premises, literally handfuls of local Laguna Beach residents’ mail was seized,” said Sgt Cota.

“LBPD will get a hold of each person and individually let them know,” said Sgt Cota.

All the suspects that were taken into custody are currently being held at LB Jail. Charges are pending.

 

Canine capers: beloved pitbull Brody has bolted twice, quite the charming escape artist, tail wagging and all

Dogs just want to have fun, that’s Brody the pitbull’s story and he’s sticking with it.  

According to LBPD’s Facebook Page, “With the help of our community, officers reunited our most recent escape artist, Brody. So far this week he’s effectively escaped his secured household, twice. Lucky for him we know where he lives.”

Click on photo for a larger image

Courtesy of LBPD Facebook

Brody, the friendly pitbull, is home again thanks to LBPD

Perhaps his name should be changed to Houdini.

LBPD Spokesperson Sgt Jim Cota said that they received a call Thursday morning stating that, “Brody was loose, he wanted to go for a walk but couldn’t. He scratched his way out the window.”

An officer went to the area of the home and found Brody. They went to the house to see how he may have gotten out.

Click on photo for a larger image

Courtesy of LBPD Facebook

Brody, a known escape artist, enjoys his canine capers with LBPD

“He got creative and pushed an interior sliding window open,” Sgt Cota said.

Eventually he was released to the dog walker, which is perplexing since the dog seemingly broke free to walk himself. Nonetheless, Brody was released and noted for his congeniality, quite the charmer.

“Brody is our favorite little pitbull. He’s super nice,” said Sgt Cota.


Police Files

A huge posse of 75-100 motorcyclists were wanton and wild doing wheelies on the wrong side of Coast Hwy and the law

On Sunday, April 15 at 10:50 am., officers responded to the area of Mission Hospital in Laguna Beach after seeing approximately 75 to 100 motorcyclists doing “wheelies” and riding on the wrong side of the roadway on Coast Highway. 

“An officer observed one of the subjects performing a “wheelie” on the wrong side of the road at Cleo Street and South Coast Highway,” said LBPD Spokesperson Sgt Jim Cota. “The officer attempted to initiate a vehicle enforcement stop, however, the motorcyclist did not yield. A slow speed pursuit ensued until Emerald Bay where speeds picked into Corona Del Mar where the pursuit was ultimately terminated.”

The Orange County Sheriff’s Department helicopter, named “Duke,” monitored the situation from the sky, providing the perfect bird’s eye view. 

Officers were able to get several license plates from the large group thanks to “Duke,” LBPD officers and a motorcycle officer.

 A further investigation will take place to identify the main suspect and pursue prosecution. No arrests have been made yet, Sgt Cota explained.

The motorcycle group was put together through Facebook. The wild and wanton “wheelie” loving motorcycle posse were riding a motley mix of street and dirt bikes. 

Alcohol is not suspected at this time.

 

Vandals jack up a Porsche 911 in North Laguna and steal its wheel

On Monday, April 16 at 10:16 a.m., LBPD officers responded to a petty theft report. Officers arrived on scene, at the 1000 block of Hillcrest Drive, where they discovered the owner’s silver Porsche 911 vandalized, collapsed on top of a floor jack with a missing rear wheel that had been stolen.

Courtesy of Nextdoor website

There’s nowhere to go after someone tries to steal the hot wheels off a silver Porsche 911, only able to manage one for the road, wheel that it is

The officers were told that sometime after 11 p.m. the previous night, someone had attempted to remove the wheels and tires from the Porsche, but they were unsuccessful, Sgt Cota said. 

The petty theft occurred while the Porsche was parked on Hillcrest between La Brea Street and Fairview Road. Evidence was collected and the vehicle was towed to assess the damage.

 

LBPD, LBFD, and Laguna lifeguards will be off to the races for the Special Olympics Torch Run

LBPD is proud to announce that they will again be participating in the annual Special Olympics Torch Run on May 31, 2018 at 7:35 a.m. with a little help from their friends. 

Sgt Cota said, “Laguna Beach Police Officers, Fire Fighters, and Lifeguards will be escorting the “Flame of Hope” from the Laguna Beach Police Department to the intersection of Coast Highway and Newport Coast Drive where we will hand the torch off to The California Highway Patrol.”

They welcome members of the public to meet at the police department at 7:10 a.m. to share their support for the runners and Special Olympics athletes, as they participate in this 5.4-mile run.

Over the years, the Law Enforcement Torch Run and Tip-A-Cop have been some of the largest fundraising and community relation events for the Special Olympics.

Click on photo for a larger image

Courtesy of LBPD

Sgt Cota, seen here at LBPD’s annual Tip-A-Cop event at Ruby’s Diner, along with other LBPD officers, firefighters and lifeguards will participate in this year’s Special Olympics Torch Run

“The Laguna Beach Police Department has had the honor and privilege to participate with the Special Olympics, interact with the Laguna Beach Community, and raise awareness for the Special Olympics programs and athletes though these activities,” said Sgt Cota.

To support the Laguna Beach Public Safety personnel, please donate to their Special Olympics fundraising page here.


DUI enforcement operations deploy today, 4/20, starting at 4:20 p.m.

Officers from the Laguna Beach Police Department’s DUI Enforcement Team are deploying today to stop and arrest alcohol and drug-impaired drivers in the Department’s ongoing traffic safety campaign. 

DUI Saturation Patrols will deploy today, Friday, April 20, between the hours of 4:20 p.m. and 3 a.m., in areas with high frequencies of DUI collisions and/or arrests. 

This date, 4/20, is associated by many as, “national holiday for cannabis culture.” Researchers examined a quarter-century of national data and found a 12 percent increase in the relative risk of a fatal traffic crash after 4:20 p.m. on April 20 compared with identical time intervals on control days. 

Additionally, the risk to teenage drivers is even higher on that day and the risk of crash involving drivers under 21 years of age was 38 percent higher. 

DUI charges aren’t only about alcohol

Officers will be looking for signs of alcohol and/or drug impairment. When possible, specially trained officers will be available to evaluate those suspected of drug-impaired driving, which now accounts for a growing number of impaired driving crashes.  

Studies of California drivers have shown that 30 percent of drivers in fatal crashes had one or more drugs in their systems. A study of active drivers showed more tested positive for drugs that may impair driving (14 percent) than did for alcohol (7.3 percent). Of the drugs, marijuana was most prevalent, at 7.4 percent, slightly more than alcohol. Everyone should be mindful that if you’re taking medication, whether prescription or over-the-counter, drinking even small amounts of alcohol can greatly intensify the impairment affects.  

Hand over your keys if you are impaired in any way

Law Enforcement emphasizes the preventable nature of drunk driving, reminding everyone that all it takes is a little planning ahead. Designate a sober driver or call a cab. But whatever you do, don’t drink or use drugs, and drive. The cost of a ride home is cheap. 

Drivers caught driving impaired can expect the impact of a DUI arrest to include jail time, fines, fees, DUI classes, license suspensions and other expenses that can exceed $10,000, not to mention the embarrassment when friends and family find out.

Funding for this DUI operation is provided to the Laguna Beach Police Department by a grant from the California Office of Traffic Safety, through the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, reminding everyone to ‘Report Drunk Driving – Call 9-1-1’.

For further information, contact Lieutenant Tim Kleiser at (949) 464-6655 or This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.


Police Files

Suspected ID thieves, including 14-year-old boy, caught red-handed with stolen loot

On Thursday, April 19 at 2:18 a.m., after barely squeaking by Laguna Beach, LBPD officers stopped a car at the El Morro dip just north of city limits. 

From the car stop, the officer detained three suspects, Deserie Garcia, 30, James Saaf, 22, and a 14-year-old male juvenile, all from Whittier.

Courtesy of LBPD

Deserie Garcia                             James Saff

Accordingly to LBPD Spokesperson Sgt Jim Cota, while detained, Garcia admitted that she was the driver of the group, but also pointed the finger at her friends, alluding to the other two illegally taking mail from residents, including some from Laguna Beach.

 “All of the stolen mail was inside the car. There were also burglary tools – little saws, picks, and things that are used to get through locks and doors, along with fraudulent documents, leading officers to believe identity theft crimes had been committed,” Sgt Cota explained.

Click on photo for a larger image

Courtesy of LBPD

Stolen mail, burglary tools, and of course, a case of beer, were all taken in as evidence by LBPD as part of Thursday’s big bust, which landed three Whittier pals behind bars

Perhaps in an attempt to practice their craft and fool LBPD’s best, the two adults provided false identification information. Busted! 

They were subsequently properly ID’d.

“All three subjects were arrested and will face a litany of charges. This is an ongoing investigation that will lead to many more charges,” Sgt Cota said.

Click on photo for a larger image

Courtesy of LBPD

Receipts for fraudulent purchases, LBPD says. Were the suspects planning to use these as write-offs on their taxes this year?

 “Officers did a terrific job stopping these subjects from continuing their criminal activity in and around Laguna Beach,” said Sgt Cota. “The Laguna Beach Police Department will not tolerate criminals committing theft against our citizens at any time, day or night. Our citizens need to stay vigilant and if they see something or somebody acting suspiciously, do not hesitate to call the police. We are always open for business, we never close.”

 

Too close for comfort, house cat snatched by coyote

One lucky cat still has nine lives thanks to a fast acting neighbor who caught a coyote in the act of snatching the cat on Monday, April 16 at 10:50 a.m., in nearby Laguna Woods.

A cat was loose in the area when a medium-sized coyote grabbed it twice according to a concerned neighbor. Together with another neighbor, they hazed the coyote, which frightened the coyote and caused the coyote to drop the cat, saving it from the snare of the coyote’s clenched grip.

A Laguna Beach Animal Services Officer arrived shortly thereafter, observed the coyote, and initiated hazing procedures. The coyote ran away. No injuries were observed on the cat. However, the feline was quarantined for 30 days to monitor to make sure it is healthy. It is unknown at this time to whom the cat belongs. Please let Laguna Beach Animal Services know if your cat is missing.

Click here for information about coyotes and for pet safety tips from the Laguna Beach Animal Services.

Laguna Beach Animal Services provides service to the City of Laguna Woods, contracted with the City of Laguna Beach, for the provision of all animal control and animal shelter services. Laguna Woods is the only other city that they provide animal services to besides Laguna Beach. 

 

Get PIO’d at LBPD @ Twitter, #newpage #scoop

LBPD has a new Press Information Officer (PIO) page on Twitter. This page will be another way for the department to not only communicate with the public but with the press on LBPD events/incidents, Sgt Cota said. 

This new page will be in addition to the LBPD Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter pages, making it even easier to keep up with the LBPD. 

Click on photo for a larger image

Courtesy of LBPD PIO Twitter

LBPD Spokesperson Sgt Jim Cota invites the public to Tweet

To find the new page, log onto your Twitter account and search for Laguna Beach PD PIO. The page should come right up, so you’ll be down with the latest LBPD scoop on important information, served fresh and timely.


Time to have Coffee with a Cop (and a doughnut too, of course): Bring your questions with you

LBPD invites residents to meet police officers for coffee and doughnuts this Sunday, April 22 from 8 a.m. – 10:30 a.m. at Laguna Beach Cyclery, 240 Thalia St.

Click on photo for a larger image

Photo by Lynette Brasfield

Bring questions, ideas, and even your dogs to Coffee with a Cop, just as these locals did a month or two ago

 “Join your neighbors and personnel from the Laguna Beach Police Department for coffee, doughnuts and conversation. No agenda or speeches, just a chance to ask questions, voice concerns, and get to know the officers in your neighborhood. We hope to see you there!” says LBPD Spokesperson Sgt Jim Cota.


Police Files

Virtual kidnapping scam terrorizes Laguna moms

Last Friday, April 20, a frantic Laguna Beach mother told LBPD she received a call from a person who said they had kidnapped her son and were demanding a large sum of money to be brought to a location or they would kill her son. 

The victim was distraught and doing whatever the caller told her because they knew the name of her child and she could hear a child screaming for help in the background. Detectives responded, and while investigating this terrifying and dynamic situation, determined her child was safe and the call was a hoax in an attempt to coerce the mother to wire money out of the country.

The terrible situation is a reminder that if you receive such a message, please call the police immediately. Virtual kidnapping can take on many forms but is always an extortion scheme to trick the victim into paying the ransom. 

On Saturday, another victim stepped up. “I just received an email from a Laguna Niguel woman who was also a victim of that kidnap scam [like Friday’s incident]. Her email to me was terrifying,” said LBPD Spokesperson Sgt Jim Cota. “I can’t even imagine. We need to let everyone know about this. I’m sure there are more people out there too who have been ‘victims’ of this.”

Many times, specific information related to the person being virtually kidnapped is obtained through unsecured social media accounts. It’s crucial for families to review their individual social media sites to make sure they are secured, to be protected against being a victim. 

Once contacted, it’s urgent to call 9-1-1 immediately.

The success of any type of virtual kidnapping scheme depends on speed and fear. Criminals know they only have a short time to exact a ransom before the victims unravel the scam or authorities become involved.

To avoid becoming a victim, ask important questions, like, “How do I know my loved one is ok?” And questions only the alleged kidnap victim would know, such as the name of a pet, while avoiding sharing information about yourself or your family.

Importantly, don’t agree to pay a ransom, by wire or in person. Delivering money in person can be dangerous. For more tips and information, contact Sgt Cota at (949) 497-0701 or via email at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

 

LBFD fired up about scam soliciting money 

in their name

The Laguna Beach Fire Department has been notified that someone may be using their good name to scam people out of money. Neither the Laguna Beach Firefighters nor their association will solicit fundraising over the phone. 

“Example: Someone called an individual asking if they had their tickets for the Laguna Beach Firefighters Magic Show. Although, the firefighters could probably put together a pretty entertaining magic show, this did not come from the Laguna Beach Firefighters. Please be weary about anyone soliciting money over the phone especially,” said Jordan Villwock, City of Laguna Beach Emergency Operations Coordinator. 

Call LBPD at (949) 497-0701 if you believe you have been a victim of a scam. 

 

Front door kicked down by intruder in the middle of the night, leaving Laguna resident unnerved

A Laguna Beach resident was awoken early Thursday morning last week, April 19, by an unknown intruder who was kicking his door in. The resident, who lives in the 200 block of Calliope Street, immediately called 9-1-1 to report the suspicious person, at 3:20 a.m.

“Officers arrived quickly and were able to detain the suspect who was walking down the stairs,” said Sgt Cota. 

Carlos Alberto Maldonado, 18, of Dana Point, was the kicking culprit caught coming down the external stairs to the condo.

Maldonado was booked on felony burglary charges with a bail of $50,000.

 

Pooch plucked out of hot car by patrol

A pooch was plucked out of a parked prison by Laguna Beach Patrol in the 400 Block of Coast Highway on Saturday, April 24 at 2:54 p.m. Patrol had observed the liver and white Cavalier King Charles Spaniel within a vehicle with all the windows rolled up. 

“The outside temperature per weather apps was 69 degrees, however, the inside temperatures inside can be significantly higher,” explained Sgt Cota, a passionate pooch proponent.

According to a California Legislation Information site, the person broke California Penal Code 597.7, which states, “A person shall not leave or confine an animal in any unattended motor vehicle under conditions that endanger the health or well-being of an animal due to heat, cold, lack of adequate ventilation, or lack of food or water, or other circumstances that could reasonably be expected to cause suffering, disability, or death to the animal.”

Unless the animal suffers great bodily injury, a first conviction is punishable by a fine not exceeding $100 per animal. Any subsequent violation of this section, regardless of injury to the animal, is also punishable by a fine not exceeding $500, imprisonment in a county jail not exceeding six months, or by both a fine and imprisonment.

The dog was released with the help of a tow agency and taken to the animal shelter for safety reasons until the owner picked him up the following day.

 

Tony Hawk teams up with LBPD for anti-bullying video, will it go viral?

LBPD has just released an anti-bullying video in partnership with Tony Hawk to help deter bullying at schools. The video can be seen online at https://youtu.be/uk70o55bRPs, and also below.

“It’s something Captain Jeff Calvert and I wanted to do for a long time based on the worldwide problem of bullying. It’s a major issue with schools across the country,” said Sgt Cota. 

Lucky for Calvert, he knows a close friend of Tony Hawk, Laguna Beach resident Kim Novick, which led to LBPD pitching the idea to him.

“He loved it and is a huge supporter of anti-bullying. He was bullied when he was younger. He was a great partner,” said Sgt Cota. “We worked on the script with Tony’s recording and photo team, 900 Films, who made the video with us.”

“Tony came to this because of his work through the Tony Hawk Foundation. He works to our youth and found this a great way to empower them,” said Kim Novick, former Development Director of the Tony Hawk Foundation.

According to Sgt Cota, this is just the start for LBPD, as a series of anti-bullying videos featuring celebrity advocates are planned.

“We are still in the process of reaching out to other celebrities. We have some names we are tossing around still,” Sgt Cota said. “There is no time frame yet on the next one. We want to see how this one plays out.”


Police Files

Sunset walk at Victoria Beach turns tragic, woman swept off rocks and drowns  

What started as a sunset walk at Victoria Beach on Wednesday ended in unimaginable tragedy for a married Irvine couple in their 70s. Suddenly, the man’s wife was pulled into the tide and later drowned.

At7:30 p.m. on Wednesday, LBPD, LBFD and LB Marine Safety received 9-1-1 calls about a woman who was swept off the rocks at the north end of Victoria Beach and immediately responded.

The ominous sounds of a rescue helicopter could be heard throughout Laguna Beach, during an extensive search via sea and air by emergency responders.

According to LBPD Spokesperson Sgt Jim Cota, “Police, firefighters, lifeguards, and the U.S. Coast Guard were all involved in the search that lasted approximately two hours.” 

The woman was reported missing at approximately 8:15 p.m. Later, Marine Safety found the missing woman unresponsive at around 10 p.m. She was later identified as Chiawen Keh, 70, of Irvine.

 “It was the wife who was swept off the rocks while they were walking across the rocks,” explained Kai Bond, LB Marine Safety Captain. “A good Samaritan attempted to provide rescue. He was simply a passerby of the incident as it occurred.”

The quick responding good Samaritan nearly drowned himself as he tried to rescue the woman that he saw swept into the large waves and carried out to sea. After searching, he barely got out of the water himself. He was transported to an area hospital; his condition is unknown.

Unfortunately, conditions weren’t favorable with strong currents at the time the couple crossed the jagged, rugged, uneven surface.

“We had 3 to 5-foot surf out of the south and it was rising until 8:17 p.m.,” Cpt Bond said. “It was a situation where the waves were crashing up against the rocks and she was simply swept off. There are [all] sorts of currents in that area; it wasn’t one specific element, but it was a combination of all of them.”

“I want to stress the safety of staying off the rocks during hazardous conditions,” Cpt Bond said.

Click on photo for a larger image

Photo by Mary Hurlbut

The rugged terrain at Victoria Beach turned deadly

“We train on a regular basis on search, rescue and recovery; it’s part of what we do as a marine safety department,” Cpt Bond said. “We take great pride in those skills. Training is ongoing, we train on it consistently in order to provide top level service for our community.”

It’s devastating when a life is lost. 

“It’s a tragedy for the family and we’re mourning with the family as a City,” said Cpt Bond. “I can’t imagine what they’re going through.” 

Sgt Cota echoed his sentiments.

“The Laguna Beach Police Department offers its deepest condolences to the family of Chiawen Keh. We share in the sadness of this very unfortunate situation and will never forget you,” Sgt Cota expressed.

 

Man allegedly exposes himself to two juvenile girls at Aliso Beach

A man allegedly exposed himself to two juvenile girls, ages 12 and 16, in the shower area at Aliso Beach on Tuesday, April 24 at 6 p.m., according to LBPD. Per reports, officers responded to the area – one made contact with the alleged victims and their parents while the other officers searched the area.

After allegedly exposing himself, the suspect fled the scene on foot. The alleged suspect was described to be a white male, shirtless, and wearing khakis. On the run, he crossed Coast Highway, at which time officers suspect he climbed a trail next to the Aliso West parking lot and into the neighborhood overlooking Aliso Beach.

“An officer witnessed the suspect who matched the description leaving a residence. After further investigation and during the search, a wallet, keys, and cash were located on the suspect,” said LBPD Emergency Operations Coordinator Jordan Villwock. 

The alleged suspect, Jerald Bruce Pollard, 31, of Irvine, was detained just south of the location in a neighborhood and was arrested. He was booked on multiple counts.

Officers made contact with the residents where the alleged suspect was seen leaving. The residents confirmed to the officers that all the property found on Pollard’s person belonged to them. 

Besides being arrested on suspicion of willful cruelty to a child (a felony), indecent exposure, and annoying a child under the age of 18, arrest logs also indicate that Pollard was arrested for felony burglary. Bail was set at $100,000 for the willful cruelty charge and $50,000 for the burglary charge, per LBPD.

 

Man caught drinking the suds, while allegedly stealing the duds…

A beer toting man is suspected of taking his victims to the cleaners, stealing their laundry out of the local laundromat on Legion Street. 

A victim called the police on Monday, April 23 at 11:43 p.m., reporting her clothing had been stolen from the laundromat the night before and that she saw the person who did it.

The woman claimed she filed an online report for theft the previous night, regarding the theft of her clothes and the suspect. He was described as a male in his ‘30s or ‘40s, approximately 6’, wearing jeans, and a blue and white plaid shirt. 

“She didn’t approach when she observed him taking the clothing out of fear she might be hurt and that he was back at the laundromat,” said LBPD Emergency Operations Coordinator Jordan Villwock.

 Officers made contact and observed that the suspect was consuming a 24-ounce beer in the front seat of his van, described as a turquoise Astrovan.

 After further investigation and a search of the suspect’s vehicle, officers discovered 38 pieces of clothing. Yes, a large array of duds were found in the van of the man who loves his suds, including sweatshirts, underwear, and the like, estimated at $1,500 in value.

During the name check of the suspect, officers also discovered that the suspect had an outstanding warrant. So they cuffed Jesus Rosas, 37, a construction worker. 

Rosas was arrested for felony grand theft, among other charges. His bail was set at $20,000.

 

When push comes to shove, it takes a village, Laguna, where neighbors gladly push and shove 

On Thursday, April 26 around 4:51 p.m., in the downtown area near Forest Avenue and Third Street, there was a bus, a school bus, that needed to be somewhere in Laguna, but it didn’t quite make it to its destination…yet. 

Until a neighbor came along and lent a helping hand or two, a push and a shove! Yes, it’s pure Laguna love in action…and one of a busload of reasons why we love where we live and love what we do at Stu News! 

Lea Abel-Stone shared the story that’s pure Laguna, the little bus that could…seeing the wayward bus stuck in a rut called peeps to action.

Cary Redfearn, owner of Lumberyard and Slice restaurants, was summoned for this situation of bus frustration. He was at Lumberyard and responded without hesitation. 

“Cary rushed out to help. He actually called back to his kitchen and said, ‘Hey guys, let’s go push a bus,’” Abel-Stone fondly recalled. “But he was the first out and got it going before they came out.”

Click on photo for a larger image

Courtesy of Lea Abel-Stone

Said bus, at first…

Lea Abel-Stone, whose grandfather Chris was the original Lumberyard building designer, and whose father, Gregg, remodeled the building into the Lumberyard Restaurant of today, shared a fun story to bring everyone back to planet Laguna

Click on photo for a larger image

Courtesy of Lea Abel-Stone

Said bus, goes the distance…

Go bus go, with a little bit of heave and ho, to the destination at the LBPD station


Police Files

Late night knifing at Jack In The Box: Suspect flees in Mercedes Benz

At 12:28 a.m. on Saturday, April 28, LBPD officers and LBFD were dispatched to Jack In The Box regarding a stabbing investigation. The victim and a group of friends were inside the dining area at Jack In The Box when Alan Warren Anderson, 59, of Kerville, TX, approached them.

According to LBPD Spokesperson Sgt Jim Cota, “Anderson believed the group made negative statements about him so he approached them.”

“As he did this, the victim stood up and Anderson grabbed a folding knife from his back pocket,” said Sgt Cota. “Anderson opened the knife and lunged toward the victim with an upward slashing motion.”

While allegedly wielding the knife and slashing it at the victim, the knife blade made contact with the victim’s torso area and caused an approximate eight-inch superficial laceration. 

Anderson didn’t stay around to see what would happen next. After the alleged slash, Anderson dashed. Trying to get away, he fled the restaurant on foot, across South Coast Highway, toward Glenneyre Street. 

A quick-thinking Jack In The Box employee pursued Anderson and saw him jump behind the wheel of a black Mercedes Benz with Texas license plates. Anderson took off driving north on Coast Highway.

Shortly thereafter, the vehicle was spotted by officers in the area of Broadway Street and North Coast Highway. LBPD pulled over the Benz to conduct an investigative stop at the 1200 Block of North Coast Highway near Myrtle Street. Anderson, who is a retiree, was the sole occupant in the Mercedes.

 “His clothing and personal descriptors matched the description provided by the victim and witnesses,” said Sgt Cota. “He was detained and positively identified by the victim.” 

During a search of Anderson’s vehicle, a knife with blood residue and a handgun were located in the trunk of his Benz. No charges were filed regarding the handgun. However, he was taken into custody by the LBPD and charged with Assault with a Deadly Weapon, a felony, for the alleged stabbing at Jack In The Box.

Bail was set at $25,000.

 

Man faces felony vandalism charges after trashing City trash can

On Wednesday, April 25 at 10:30 p.m. at Main Beach, a Public Works supervisor observed a shirtless male push over a city owned concrete trash can causing damage.

 Brett Bolin, 29, Laguna Beach, “overturned the City trash can…causing the can to sustain a two-foot crack on one side,” said Sgt Cota.

The condition of the cracked can was irreparable. But not irreplaceable; the cost is estimated to be $500. 

Why was the defenseless trash can targeted?

“Bolin was upset because someone stole his belongings, so he took out his frustrations on the trash can. Bolin also admitted to damaging the trash can,” said Sgt Cota.

 Bolin was arrested for felony vandalism because the property damage amounted to over $400. He was transported to OC Jail. Bail was set at $20,000.

 

Speed racer takes officers on “wild and wanton” 4 a.m. car chase

On Friday, April 27 at 3:50 a.m., a vehicle was careening outbound at the 300 Block of Broadway Street, when an officer behind it reported that it was swerving in the roadway. The officer attempted a traffic stop and the vehicle accelerated and failed to yield. 

“The officer initiated a pursuit of the vehicle. The suspect vehicle accelerated, slowed and accelerated multiple times,” said Sgt Cota. The vehicle continued to flee outbound Laguna Canyon Road to the 5 Freeway northbound.”

 C.H.P. took over the pursuit at Jamboree and the 5 freeway. The pursuit terminated in Newport Beach on Newport Blvd at 17th Street. 

The suspect, Michael Allen Garcia, 40, of Laguna Beach, was arrested for felony evading. Garcia was not intoxicated or wanted for any other reason, said Sgt Cota. “He just decided to cause a pursuit.” 

The car was not stolen. 

Garcia was transported to OC Jail.


Police Files

Frightened mom pays out thousands to suspected cartel members while on vacation in Laguna Beach

On Tuesday, May 1 at 7:25 a.m., an officer spoke with a frightened and distraught female victim in the front lobby at LBPD. The woman, who was vacationing in Laguna Beach from Nebraska, had fallen victim to a virtual kidnapping scam that has been circulating around town in recent weeks.

 “She was a victim of the virtual kidnapping scam via telephone. She received a phone call from a Nebraska area code and the suspect stated he had her son,” said LBPD Spokesperson Sgt Jim Cota. “She attempted to contact her son, but was unable to do so. This increased her fears and she ultimately wired $3,000 to the suspect via Western Union.”

The woman recounted her horrifying story. On the call she heard a voice that sounded like her son plead, “Mom, it’s serious.” 

She was told if she did not wire the requested amount of money immediately, she would find her son in the river.

The suspects are two Hispanic males with suspected cartel connections, according to the victim’s statement

“There were two guys who went back-and-forth on the phone, “John Morales,” with a Spanish accent, who sounded about 20 years old. He claimed to be affiliated with the cartel,” said Sgt Cota.

“Victor,” the second suspect, also had a Spanish accent, according to the victim, and sounded approximately 40 years old.

“At one point, one of them said, ‘It won’t take much more to end this. You won’t find your son in the Missouri River.’”

She did the right thing by going to LBPD. 

Kathie Gross from Laguna Niguel is still suffering from PTSD, after enduring the trauma of being a victim of a virtual kidnapping scam thinking someone had taken her daughter. 

“I immediately heard what I thought was 100 percent my daughter’s voice. It sounded exactly like her. She said, ‘mom,’ and I said yes. ‘Mom I have a problem.’ She sounded very frantic. I said, ‘yes,’ thinking something happened at school. And then she said, ‘they took me, I’m in a van, and I don’t know where I am.’ I was just silent and then I said, ‘My God, where are you Jordan?’”

Gross explained, “Her name is Jordan which is often mistaken for a male’s name. I think at that point, they wrote her name down.”

Gross asked her daughter again where she was.

“’She said I don’t know, I think I am on the freeway and there aren’t any windows,’” Gross said. “At that point, a man got on the phone and asked, Is this Kathie Gross and I said yes. And he said, listen missy, you better not hang up, you better not be calling the police. My guys have got him.”

She said that right then he made the mistake of referring to my daughter as a boy.

“And at that point my radar sort of went up, still thinking it’s very possible she’s in that car. Because I heard her voice,” Gross said.

She said there were two things that raised red flags, the mistake of calling her daughter a boy and her daughter being in a school where the security is incredibly safe.

“I was thinking, if I hang up they’ll just think that I dropped the call. And in that time, they’ll call me back and I will have verified that she’s at the school,” Gross said. “So I hung up. I was absolutely out of my mind. It was a miracle I didn’t have an accident.” 

She called the school, however, it wasn’t as simple as that; her daughter stayed late at a class, so the school couldn’t locate her. 

“So they kept calling back and I kept hanging up calling the school,” Gross said. “As the moments went by I became more and more terrified.”

Luckily, the virtual kidnappers didn’t have her daughter. But, it has become her mission to get the word out so other parents won’t have to endure what she has. She found out that it has become a billion dollar national scam.

She said, “Shouldn’t people know about this?”

 

Big truck crashes on Nyes causing massive five-car collision, barely missing a driver head on

On Tuesday, May 1 at 11:42 a.m., LBPD received a call about a traffic collision involving a large truck that occurred on Nyes Place. 

When they arrived on scene they found the formidable 14-foot box truck turned on its side. 

“A 14’ box truck crashed in the 200 block of Nyes Place causing a massive five-car and one-structure collision,” said Sgt Cota.

The truck was turned on its side, as seen in photos below. Traffic in the area was heavily congested for hours. Thankfully, there were only minor injuries for the two occupants.

The truck was loaded with debris, thankfully no chemicals. 

Longtime Laguna Beach resident Johnny Miller recounted what he saw from his residence, a 270-degree fishbowl view of what happened after the point of impact, a collision he said was close to being deadly.

“These guys were doing construction at South Street, they’ve been doing it a couple of days. Suddenly, I hear this big noise and I look out of the window and someone had just smashed into the construction guy’s car in a driveway and the truck rolled over,” Miller said. 

He couldn’t believe his eyes.

“It was like watching a Hollywood movie. I didn’t think cars actually did that. This huge truck rolled over,” Miller said. 

Click on photo for a larger image

Courtesy of LBPD PIO Twitter Page

Big truck hammers, hits a car, flips on its side and careens going sideways nearly hitting the driver straight on

After seeing what happened, he put the pieces together. 

Miller surmised that the semi-truck’s brakes went out at the very top of the hill at Nyes Place.

 “I guess on the way down, he smashed into a parked car and pushed it off the road. He totally plowed into it; the back end was totally off,” Miller said. “He kept going, plowed into the car down the hill that was parked in the driveway of the construction guy, rolled over, and then another car came out as soon as he rolled over.”

He said another car was coming up from under the tunnel at Victoria Place underneath Coast highway.

“The side of the truck hit the front of the car. If he hadn’t rolled over and kept going straight, he would have plowed straight into the driver’s side door and killed him,” Miller said. 

Miller said the driver was lucky the truck rolled over, instead of being seriously injured or worse.

Immediately everybody ran over to help the victim get out.

“They had to climb on the truck and open the driver’s side door and pull him out from the top of the truck to get him out,” Miller said. “And then the EMT’s came and like four police cars and firetrucks.”

Click on photo for a larger image

Courtesy of Johnny Miller

Big truck causes a big scare after plowing down Nyes Place taking out five cars and a structure

He said it all happened really fast. 

“I’m lucky I turned my head when I heard it, otherwise, I wouldn’t have seen it turn over,” Miller said. “I go, whoa, that was weird and it was really loud.”

He said that it took about three hours to figure out how to haul away the big truck, “I mean there were four tow trucks towing it.”

 

Driver plows down a cement wall near beach entry 

On the evening of Tuesday, May 1, a driver in a black Toyota Prius pulled over and was taking a break from driving for some chill time at the 100 block of Moss Street and Ocean Way.

The driver tried to stretch inside the vehicle to get comfortable. “While stretching, he took his foot off the brake, believing the vehicle was in park,” said Sgt Cota. “The vehicle started rolling forward and he could not react quick enough to break.”

Click on photo for a larger image

Courtesy of LBPD PIO Twitter Page

A driver accidentally drove through this concrete wall on Tuesday

Thankfully, there were no reported injuries, other than the 8-foot wall.


Police Files

Running a red light on foot at 3:15 a.m. on Cinco de Mayo while stashing meth is not a good idea

On Saturday, May 5 at 3:15 a.m., a Laguna Beach Police Department officer made a pedestrian stop after seeing two males cross the street against a red light at Laguna Avenue and South Coast Highway.

The males were identified as Jordan Escobar, 25, and Juana Hernandez-Perez, 30, both of San Clemente.

LBPD Spokesperson PIO Sgt Jim Cota said, “LBPD found out that both men had warrants for their arrest. Escobar had an OC warrant for drug charges ($5,000) and Hernandez-Perez had an OC warrant for vehicle code violations ($2,500).”

According to Sgt Cota, both men were taken into custody and were admonished about the additional charge if any contraband was brought into the jail. 

“Once inside the jail, a jailer observed a white piece of paper protruding from Escobar’s buttocks. Escobar claimed it was nothing. A strip search was conducted and revealed that inside the paper was 4.4 grams methamphetamine worth about $350,” said Sgt Cota.

 A felony charge was added to Escobar’s initial warrant charge, and both subjects were transported to OC Jail. Bail was set at $25,000 for Escobar.

 

Hit by a car, motorcyclist ends up in the hospital 

On Saturday, May 5 at 12:58 p.m., officers were dispatched to a traffic collision with injuries involving a vehicle and a motorcycle at South Coast Highway and Ocean Avenue. The motorcycle was down. Officers blocked three lanes of traffic at the intersection, two northbound lanes of Coast Highway and one southbound lane.

 

Click on photos for larger images

Courtesy of Marshall Aren/Angela Russick

A motorcyclist went down and ended up in the ER after a traffic collision on Saturday

“The motorcycle rider was transported to Mission Hospital Laguna Beach with orientation concerns due to head trauma,” said Sgt Cota. “Traffic was impacted for approximately 40 minutes. The driver of the vehicle was placed at fault.”

 

Not your ordinary Joe, LBPD saddened by passing of former LBPD Police Chief Joseph Kelly at age 99

On LBPD’s Facebook page this week, the team expressed their grief after the loss of one of their own, Joseph Kelly, former LBPD Police Chief, 1971 to 1973.

“Members of the Laguna Beach Police Department are sadden (sic) by the passing of former Chief of Police Joseph Kelly at age 99. Chief Kelly lived a life as a public servant, first as a Marine where he retired in 1970 as a Colonel, and then as a Chief of Police in both the cities of Laguna Beach and Tustin. Thank you for your service! #RIP.”

Joseph John Kelly, age 99, Col., U.S.M.C. Ret., passed away May 1, 2018 in Laguna Woods. 

Kelly was born June 1, 1918, in the Bronx, N.Y., the son of Joseph Francis and Selma Kelly. He attended Fordham Prep in the Bronx and graduated in February, 1935 at age 16. Joe enlisted in the Marines in January, 1942, beginning a 28-year career both in enlisted and officer’s positions. 

He married the former Patricia Ann O’Connor on September 5, 1942. They were married 57 years, raising a family of nine children that eventually grew to18 grandchildren and 20 great grandchildren. 

Click on photo for a larger image

Courtesy of LBPD Facebook 

Former LBPD Police Chief Joe Kelly, who cracked down on the drug epidemic during his tenure in the early ‘70s, passed away on May 1 at age 99

During his tenure as LBPD Police Chief, Kelly (along with his predecessor, LBPD Chief Neil Purcell) was known for cracking down on drugs in Laguna Beach.


Police Files

Not this time: Virtual kidnapping scam is thwarted

For over three consecutive weeks, several women in Laguna have been targeted in a virtual kidnapping scam, a billion-dollar crime that’s sweeping the country. 

On Monday, May 7 at 3 p.m., LBPD received a call from a woman reporting that she was threatened with the virtual kidnapping scam.

“It was another kidnapping scam but was unsuccessful,” said LBPD Spokesperson PIO Sgt Jim Cota.

The woman who reported the attempted crime does not have kids, so she did not fall for the scam. 

“She knew about the scam from the LBPD warnings,” said Sgt Cota.

Thanks should go out to our helpful and proactive police department for getting the word out about this growing cyber crime.

In most cases, the best course of action is to hang up the phone and call 9-1-1.

For more tips and information, contact Sgt Cota at (949) 497-0701 or via email at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

 

Asleep at the wheel with a foot on the brake still equals a DUI

On Tuesday, May 8 at 7:42 p.m., what started out as a welfare check did not fare well for a Mission Viejo man who was reportedly found passed out behind the wheel of his car at the 200 Block of Broadway Street.

When LBPD officers arrived on scene, Vincent Lee Daugherty, 30, was reportedly slumped in the driver’s seat of his black Honda Accord. He was parked east bound on Broadway Street in close proximity to a local liquor store. 

“A male was passed out inside his vehicle with the vehicle in drive and his foot on the brake,” said Sgt Cota.

“He was contacted and a DUI investigation was conducted,” Cota said. “He was arrested and this was his second DUI.” 

Because the suspected DUI was Daugherty’s second, bail was set at $10,000

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