Back to Top


Police Files

LBPD offers advice and empathy in response to Las Vegas shooting

The Laguna Beach Police Department is closely monitoring the tragic events from Sunday’s “Route 91 Country Concert” in Las Vegas, during which at least 59 people were killed and 527 injured. 

Preliminary news reports indicated that among the innocent victims of the active shooter incident were a number of off-duty police and firefighter personnel from jurisdictions throughout the country, including Orange County. 

“Our thoughts are with everyone involved in the incident, including the family and loved ones affected by this tragedy, and law enforcement, other first responders and medical staff who responded to the scene and worked tirelessly to preserve life,” said Sgt. Jim Cota in an interview on Monday.

The Laguna Beach Police Department offered the following possible courses of action in an active shooter situation:

Get out, if possible. Try to remain calm, and find cover and/or concealment. You MUST take action to protect yourself. Assist the injured, if it is safe to do so. Secure your location. Silence any cell phones and remain quiet. And, defend yourself. 

Thieves steal laptops from local business, get caught trying to sell them in town

On Wednesday, September 27 at about 6:30 p.m., Seven-Degrees reported the theft of two laptops. The suspects were described as two white men in their mid-twenties. 

About three hours later, two white men in their mid-twenties approached a man at Oak Street and Glenneyre Street, and offered to sell him some stolen laptops. The man turned them down, and called the police after they left.

Surveillance footage from the theft confirmed the suspect’s identity, and officers arrested Nicholas Huffman, 21, Colorado, for possession of stolen property.


Police Files

LBPD nabs “big fish”: suspected thief with $500k in jewelry, loaded guns

On July 26, five Laguna Beach jewelry businesses at the Shops at the Cliffs shopping center were burglarized, and over $200,000 in merchandise was stolen. 

On Tuesday, exactly two months after the burglaries, LBPD detectives arrested one of the two suspects caught on surveillance video during the thefts.

“This was the big fish,” said Sgt. Jim Cota. “We’ve been working on this investigation for two months.”

Detectives went to Oceanside and located Edward Torrison, 30, at a home where he resides with his girlfriend. When detectives attempted to detain him, Torrison fled on foot, down an alley, over a fence, and into a business, where he attempted to jump through a window and successfully shattered a gecko aquarium. (We were assured that the gecko was unharmed and given a new home.)

Click on photo for a larger image

Photo courtesy of Laguna Beach PD

Edward Torrison was detained with the help of Oceanside police following a brief chase that involved a broken gecko aquarium and an attempt at jumping through a window.

Torrison was arrested with the help of the Oceanside PD and some brave citizens.

“This arrest was the culmination of excellent police work coupled with a steadfast determination by our investigations unit to apprehend the offenders,” said Captain Jeff Calvert in a statement. “It serves as a reminder that when individuals commit a crime in Laguna Beach, we will leave no stone unturned in bringing the perpetrators to justice.”

A search of his residence revealed an estimated $500,000 in stolen jewelry, two loaded firearms, and stolen pieces of art. The investigation is ongoing, and LBPD is working with law enforcement agencies throughout Los Angeles, Orange, and San Diego Counties to identify additional victims.

Torrison was arrested on multiple theft and burglary related charges, as well as being a felon in possession of a firearm. He was taken to Orange County Jail where he is being held on $500,000 bail.

The second burglar is still outstanding, and encouraged to turn himself in to the Laguna Beach Police. 

Anyone with any information regarding this investigation is encouraged to call the Laguna Beach PD at 949-494-0701. For further information, please contact Sgt. Jim Cota at 949-464-6671 or This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

Feces smeared at residence

A resident in the 31800 block of Circle Drive reported an unusually disgusting event on Tuesday. 

Somehow, an unknown suspect got through two locked gates to smear feces on the property.

“Neither of the gates had been tampered with, so we have no idea how the suspect got onto the property,” said Sgt. Jim Cota.

A few weeks ago, a similar feces-smearing incident occurred when someone reported feces on their car door. Officers are not sure if the two events are related.

“About 8 years ago we had a caretaker from Newport Beach throwing used diapers onto the streets of North Laguna,” said Cota. “But we haven’t had any occurrences of feces being spread on walls before.”


Incident Reports

Saturday, July 28

Laguna Canyon Road | 20600 Block | Annoying Phone Calls

11:36 p.m. Donald Patrick Glass, 46, Sacramento, was arrested for calling the 911 emergency line with the intent to annoy or harass another person. According to repots, he called four times total. Bail was set at $500.

Chillion Way | 2800 Block | Suspicious Activity

6:35 p.m. A caller reported that an unknown man was in her bushes. She reported “a foot sticking out of a bush” and was concerned because her next door neighbor’s house was vacant. LBPD was unable to locate the suspect.

Circle Way | 1300 Block | Resisting Arrest, Possession of False Identification

2:58 p.m. Savannah Rae LaDuke, 20, Lake Forest, was arrested for resisting arrest and providing false identification. Bail was set at $500.

Circle Way | 1300 Block |  Possession of a Narcotic Controlled Substance, 

2:58 p.m. Seong Min Back, 22, Normridge, was arrested for being in possession of a narcotic controlled substance. Bail was set at $500.

Laguna Ave | 200 Block | DUI, Driving with a Blood Alcohol Content 0.08% or Higher

8:17 p.m. A 26-year-old Beaumont man was arrested on suspicion of DUI (bail was set at $2,500) and driving with a blood alcohol content of 0.08% or higher (bail was set at $2,500.)

Laguna Canyon Road | 20600 Block | DUI, Driving with a Blood Alcohol Content 0.08% or Higher 

2:51 a.m. A 27-year-old Aurora, CO man was arrested on suspicion of DUI (bail was set at $2,500) and driving with a blood alcohol content of 0.08% or higher (bail was set at $2,500.

Coast Hwy & 9th Ave | DUI, Driving with a Blood Alcohol Content 0.08% or Higher

2:45 a.m. A 22-year-old San Clemente man was arrested on suspicion of DUI (bail was set at $2,500) and driving with a blood alcohol content of 0.08% or higher (bail was set at $2,500.)

Friday, July 27

Forrest Ave | 500 Block | Criminal Threats, Disorderly Conduct – Drugs or Alcohol, Resisting Arrest, Refusing to Provide Sample to Police

8:58 p.m. Kyle Albert Winston, 38, Mission Viejo, was arrested for criminal threats of a crime that could result in death or great bodily injury to another person. He reportedly made 10 to 15 threats to the jailer at the Laguna Beach Jail. He was also charged with disorderly conduct related to drugs or alcohol, resisting arrest, and refusal to provide blood, saliva or thump print specimens. Bail was set at $20,000.

Coast Hwy & Vista Del Sol | Violating a Restraining, Protective or Stay Away Order

1:14 p.m. Matteau Eric Queen, 19, Encinitas, was arrested for violating a court order and a parole violation. Bail was set at $15,000.

S Coast Hwy & Anita Street | Disorderly Conduct – Alcohol

1:10 a.m. A 63-year-old Riverside man was arrested for disorderly conduct related to alcohol. Bail was set at $500.

Thursday, July 26

“South of the Playground” | Bench Warrant

3:50 a.m. Feinai Saipani Eli, 43, Corona, was arrested for an outstanding bench warrant. Bail was set at $1,500.

Mountain Road | 200 Block | DUI with One Prior DUI, Driving with a Blood Alcohol Content 0.08% or Higher 12:34 a.m. Jaspaul Singh Kapoor, 31, Los Angeles, was arrested on suspicion of DUI driving with one prior DUI, and with a blood alcohol content of 0.08% or higher. Bail was set at $10,000. 

Wednesday, July 25

Forest Ave | 500 Block | Bench Warrant

9:44 p.m. William Stanley Ramirez, 43, Laguna Beach, was arrested for an outstanding bench warrant. Bail was set at $5,000.

N Coast Hwy & Viejo Street | DUI with One Prior Dior, Driving with a Blood Alcohol Content 0.08% or Higher 

6:53 p.m. William David Sommerville, 65, Laguna Beach, was arrested on suspicion of DUI with one prior DUI, and with a blood alcohol content of 0.08% or higher. Bail was set at $10,000.


Police Files

What will Laguna do to prepare for future rallies?

Since the rally on Sunday didn’t happen after all – with just a scattering of protesters and counter-protesters wandering around the cobblestones – what will the police department’s strategy be for future possible rallies?

Click on photo for a larger image

Photo by Lynette Brasfield

All was quiet on the western front on Sunday

How does Laguna strike a balance between costs of preparing, and the need to prepare for possible violence?

Click on photo for a larger image

Photo by Scott Brashier

Police outnumbered protestors on Sunday

These are difficult questions, and we appreciate all that LBPD does to keep our community safe.

Stu News asked Sgt Jim Cota what the police department’s plans were at this time for the America First rally that is scheduled for Sunday, Oct 22 at Main Beach.

Sgt Cota told Stu News, “We will have the same coverage. This one appears that it will be much larger.”   

It’s an ongoing question. We’d love our readers’ feedback.


LBPD gather to honor fallen officers during annual ceremony

By BARBARA DIAMOND

Laguna Beach Motorcycle Officer Jon Coutchie died in a traffic accident in 2013 while tracking a reported erratic driver.

Officer Gordon French was shot in 1953 by Carl Miller, who was being booked on suspicion of check kiting, and he died on the trip to Hoag Hospital in Newport Beach. 

Both officers were honored at the Remembrance and Flag Folding Ceremony, held annually on Sept. 21, the anniversary of Coutchie’s death, in front of the police memorial, “Eternal Legacy.” 

“A memorial wasn’t erected in Gordon French’s honor (at the time of his death), but because of his sacrifice, something more important took place,” said former Police Chief Paul Workman. 

Recognizing that French’s life might have been saved if medical care had been closer, the community rallied to raise the funds to build South Coast Community Hospital, which opened its doors in 1959, the first hospital in South Orange County, now an affiliate of Mission Hospital.

Click on photo for a larger image

Photo by Sande St. John

LBPD gather outside the police station to honor fallen officers

French was 49 when he died, widowing his wife and leaving his two children fatherless. 

“It is the sacrifice of officers in past years, like Gordon, who so often have saved the lives of officers today,” said Workman.

 Training has vastly improved, Workman said 

In 1965, academy classes lasted two weeks. When Workman joined the force in 1975, graduation took 11 weeks. Now, it takes six months.

“Today, we do everything possible to teach young officers how to avoid placing themselves in harm’s way,” said Workman.

Sometimes training doesn’t help. 

Jon Coutchie’s life was cut far too short, but it was a life well-lived, said Police Capt. Jeff Calvert, Master of Ceremonies and chronicler of Coutchie’s life.  He never flinched from the duty, but it wasn’t as easy as he made it look.

Officer Jon Coutchie

Calvert spoke touchingly of Coutchie. Who better? The two had been friends since high school and it was Calvert who urged Coutchie to join the department after he was discharged from the U. S. Army.

“I knew Jon would love being a police officer because he lived by the same core values that police officers are sworn to uphold,” said Calvert. 

Coutchie, with four tours of duty as a Ranger in the mid-east under his belt, aced the Police Academy course in 2009 and established himself in Laguna’s department, as an officer and a comrade.

“Jon didn’t have children, so he would always volunteer to work shifts on Thanksgiving and Christmas for officers who did have children.” Calvert said.

However, he also served as instructor in firearms and defensive tactics and was selected to become a motorcycle officer. 

“I like to think of Jon at rest in heaven and vigilantly watching over his Laguna Beach team, his Ranger team, his family and his friends.” said Calvert.

Click on photo for a larger image

Photo by Sande St. John

Matt Rolfe, firefighter second time performing, first was for 911 event; John Falk, retired LBPD the very first time performing on drums; and Davy Lopez, bagpiper/firefighter engineer. Facing away from the camera, Derek St. John former director, Laguna Club for Kids

Calvert praised the Laguna Beach residents who stepped up to support the “grieving and deeply wounded department” after Coutchie’s death. 

“The construction of our police memorial, ‘Eternal Legacy,’ wouldn’t have been possible without the unwavering commitment of our community, the Police Employees Assn., the City Council, City Manager John Pietig, Cultural Arts Manager Sian Poeschl, and artists Gerard Stripling and Michele Taylor,” Calvert said.

Calvert concluded by introducing department Honor Guard Sgt. Dave MacGill, who presented a ceremonially lowered and folded flag to Captain Jason Kravetz, in recognition of his nearly 30 years of dedicated service to Laguna Beach. 

Kravetz was speechless.

“Everybody knows I am a crybaby,” Kravetz choked out, before his throat completely tightened. It was okay. 

The annual ceremony brought tears to the eyes of more than a few folks in the audience, as they, Mayor Toni Iseman, Police Chief Laura Farinella and solemn police officers, firefighters and lifeguards placed white roses at the foot of the memorial to fallen officers.

Hard to forget.


Incident Reports

Saturday, Aug 4

S. Coast Hwy | 1300 Block | Under the Influence of a Controlled Substance

5:50 p.m. Luis Enrique Yebra, 56, Fontana, was arrested on suspicion of being under the influence of a controlled substance. Bail was set at $500.

N Coast Hwy | 1300 Block | Possession of a Narcotic Controlled Substance, Possession of Controlled Substance Paraphernalia

5:44 p.m. Julie Michele Queler, 57, Del Ray Beach, FL, was arrested for being in possession of a narcotic controlled substance (bail was set at $500) and controlled substance paraphernalia (bail was set at $500).

Broadway Street | 200 Block | DUI, Driving with a Blood Alcohol Content 0.08% or Higher

3:22 a.m. A 26-year-old Irvine man was arrested on suspicion of DUI (bail was set at $2,500), driving with a blood alcohol content of 0.08% or higher (bail was set at $2,500).

Agate Street & S Coast Hwy | DUI, Driving with a Blood Alcohol Content 0.08% or Higher

1:23 a.m. A 30-year-old Whittier man was arrested on suspicion of DUI (bail was set at $2,500), driving with a blood alcohol content of 0.08% or higher (bail was set at $2,500).

S Coast Hwy | 100 Block | DUI with One Prior DUI, Driving with a Blood Alcohol Content 0.08% or Higher 1:03 a.m. Kevin Matthew McMahon, 35, Huntington Beach, was arrested on suspicion of DUI driving with one prior DUI (bail was set at $10,000), and with a blood alcohol content of 0.08% or higher (bail was set at $10,000). 

Friday, Aug 3

N Coast Hwy & Emerald Bay Drive | DUI

3:50 p.m. A 34-year-old San Juan Capistrano man was arrested on suspicion of DUI. Bail was set at $2,500.

S Coast Hwy & Nyes Place | Taking a Vehicle Without Owner Consent, Embezzling a Leased or Rented Vehicle

11:49 a.m. Christopher Laurence Howard, 41, Santa Ana, was arrested for taking a vehicle without owner consent and embezzling a leased or rented vehicle. Bail was set at $20,000.

St Anns Drive | 100 Block | Outstanding Warrant

6:03 a.m. Eric Lawrence McGuffick, 53, San Clemente, was arrested for an outstanding warrant. Bail was set at $10,000.

Thursday, Aug 2

Coast Hwy | 3100 Block | DUI, Driving with a Blood Alcohol Content 0.08% or Higher 

8:44 p.m. A 39-year-old Oceanside man, was arrested on suspicion of DUI (bail was set at $2,500), and driving with a blood alcohol content of 0.08% or higher (bail was set at $2,500).

Ocean Ave & Beach Street | Resisting Arrest, Failure to Use a Crosswalk

7:14 p.m. Braden Elliot Bolton, 39, Laguna Beach, was arrested for resisting arrest and failure to use a crosswalk. Bail was set at $500.

Coast Hwy & West Street | DUI, Alcohol Person Under 21, Driving with a Blood Alcohol Content 0.08% or Higher,

5:09 p.m. A 20-year-old San Juan Capistrano woman was arrested on suspicion of DUI, under the age of 21 (bail was set at $2,500), and driving with a blood alcohol content of 0.08% or higher (bail was set at $2,500).

Cleo Street | 200 Block | Possession of a Narcotic Controlled Substance, Possession of Controlled Substance Paraphernalia, Bench Warrants

3:36 p.m. Kenneth Lee Koestler, 43, Laguna Beach, was arrested for being in possession of a narcotic controlled substance (bail was set at $500) and controlled substance paraphernalia (bail was set at $500), and for multiple bench warrants (bails were set at $15,000 and $10,000).

S Coast Hwy & Anita Street | Outstanding Warrants

1:42 p.m. Damian Berry Carter, 44, Laguna Beach, was arrested for outstanding warrants for being in contempt of court, graffiti and vandalism. Bail was set at $10,000.

N Coast Hwy | 400 Block | DUI, Driving with a Blood Alcohol Content 0.08% or Higher, Driving with a Suspended License

1:56 a.m. A 25-year-old Laguna Beach man, was arrested on suspicion of DUI (bail was set at $2,500), driving with a blood alcohol content of 0.08% or higher (bail was set at $2,500) and driving with a suspended license (bail was set at $500)

Wednesday, Aug 1

Laguna Canyon Road | 20400 Block | Trespassing

10:50 p.m. Bianca Scarlett Bennett, 41, Santa Ana, was arrested for trespassing. Bail was set at $500.

S Coast Hwy | 600 Block | Trespassing

5:35 p.m. Robert Oxier, 35, Fontana, was arrested for trespassing. Bail was set at $500.

N Coast Hwy | 100 Block | Possession of Controlled Substance Paraphernalia, Bench Warrant

6:33 a.m. Robert Lenn Caltabiano, 46, Laguna Beach, was arrested for being in possession of controlled substance paraphernalia (bail was set at $500) and a bench warrant (bail was set at $1,500).

Broadway Street | 300 Block | Under the Influence of a Controlled Substance

4:34 a.m. Tatum McCall Wadle, 24, Luling, TX, was arrested on suspicion of being under the influence of a controlled substance. Bail was set at $1,000.


Police Files

LBPD will be out “in full force” Sunday, in anticipation of possible rallies

Sgt. Jim Cota told Stu News Laguna on Thursday evening that LBPD will be out “in full force” Sunday, Sep 24 at Main Beach, in anticipation of possible rallies including a previously scheduled (but possibly canceled) America First rally. There will be multiple agencies on hand again, including officers on horseback.

America First’s Johnny Benetiz told LBPD that he would “not be rallying on Sunday”, said Cota, after reports he had received death threats to his family.

However, it is unknown if others from the group will show up, as original plans were to gather Sunday starting at 3 p.m.

Regardless of whether or not America First supporters show up, a peace rally is scheduled for Sunday at Main Beach from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. The rally will be aimed at “promoting peace and unity for our community”. Organizers encourage rally goers to wear pink to support The Race for the Cure.

Click on photo for a larger image

Photo by Scott Brashier

LBPD will patrol Main Beach Sunday in anticipation of possible rallies

 

Three more residential burglaries reported this week

Laguna Beach residents reported three more residential burglaries this week. 

On Sunday, an unknown suspect broke into a residence in the 200 block of San Joaquin Street. Artwork and kitchen items were moved or taken, and a $2,000 chair was also stolen from the residence. A complete inventory is still being compiled.

Two burglaries on High Drive were reported on Wednesday, both of which occurred sometime after August 30. 

“In the first, the suspect broke a bedroom window,” said Sgt. Jim Cota, LBPD spokesperson. “The suspect went through specific drawers looking for small items but did not ransack the entire home.”

The second High Drive burglary had similar circumstances: the suspect broke a rear glass door and went through drawers, but did not ransack the residence. The exact loss for both is still unknown.

“So far, we do not have a connection in the burglaries, but we are not ruling it out,” said Cota.

Cell phone conversation interrupted by robber

On Sunday at 12:52 p.m., officers went to the bus depot on Broadway Street to respond to a call.

While there, the officers were approached by a man who reported that another man had stolen his cell phone.

“The victim stated that he was talking to his mother on the phone when the suspect hit him with a closed fist twice in the mouth and side of his face,” said Sgt. Jim Cota. “The suspect took the phone and ran away.”

Officers were able to locate the suspect, identified as Bryce Summers, 18, no fixed address.

Summers was detained and the phone was returned back to the victim.

Once video footage of the crime was reviewed and the victim’s story verified, Summers was arrested for robbery and was transported to Orange County Jail. Bail was $100,000.


Police Files

Three home burglaries in five days: Laguna police warn residents to be extra vigilant 

In Friday’s edition, we reported on a home burglary that had been interrupted by the North Laguna homeowner last Wednesday the 13th.

On that same evening, just before 8 p.m., a home invasion in the 400 block of Windsor Place was interrupted by a cat sitter entering the residence.

According to a post by the homeowner on NextDoor, the burglar broke a window to enter and left with jewelry.

“With the close distance from the other burglary that night, they could be associated, but we have nothing concrete yet tying them together,” said Sgt. Jim Cota, LBPD spokesperson.

On Sunday at 12:41 a.m., a citizen in the 300 block of Loma Terrace saw an unknown man leaving a residence. The screen and window were removed from the home.

Police officers have not determined if there is a connection between this event and the other recent burglaries in Laguna.

“We will be beefing up patrol officers looking for the people responsible,” said Cota.

Laguna Beach residents must remain vigilant and report suspicious looking individuals and vehicles – and if you see something, say something, he advises.

Additionally, residents can take advantage of vacation checks offered by the police department. To apply for basic house check services, visit the Laguna Beach police station at 505 Forest Avenue. And, alert neighbors you trust about any upcoming trips and ask that they keep an eye on your property during that time. When you leave town, don’t leave signs of an empty house.

“Our police department cannot be fully effective without the community’s help and support,” said Cota. “We need you as much as you need us. Together we can make a big difference.”

LBPD welcomes two new officers

The Laguna Beach Police department swore in two new officers on Monday.

Officer Priscilla Angeloni was sponsored through the Golden West Police Academy after serving as a jailer.

Officer Jeremiah Kennedy spent the last three years working for the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department.

 

Click on photos for a larger image

Photos courtesy of LBPD

Meet LBPD’s newest officers, Priscilla Angeloni and Jeremiah Kennedy


Police Files

North Laguna resident interrupts a burglary

On Wednesday at 9:02 p.m., officers received a call from a resident in the 500 block of Poplar Street.

“The woman heard some noise in a guest bedroom and when she went to investigate, a man wearing a black hoodie and gloves told her to ‘get out of here’,” said Sgt. Jim Cota, LBPD spokesperson. 

According to a post on NextDoor, the victim went back into her bedroom where she immediately called 911.

Officers arrived on the scene two minutes later, but the man was no longer in the house. They were unable to find him in the area as well. 

Officers believe the suspect entered the home through a screen in the guest bedroom that had been pushed into the room.

No loss was reported at this time.


Police Files

Boyfriend and girlfriend arrested in last week’s home burglary

On Tuesday, we reported that a Laguna Beach resident returned home on Friday to a burglary in progress – his garage door had been broken in and there was an unknown Hyundai parked in his driveway. 

The RP called police and waited for officers to arrive. While waiting, he saw a man and a woman walk out of his house with a clothes hamper. The pair entered the Hyundai parked in the driveway and left – with $5,000 in stolen purses and $12,000 in stolen jewelry.

On Wednesday, Laguna Beach detectives went to the City of Orange to visit Zachary Morales, 26, and his girlfriend, Tiffanie Moreland, 23, suspects in the case. When detectives spoke with the pair, they denied their involvement in the Laguna Beach burglary despite the following:

1. A white Hyundai Sonata was seen fleeing from the Laguna Beach burglary. Tiffanie drives a white Hyundai Sonata.

2. The female suspect in the Laguna Beach burglary case was described as thin, with pink hair. Tiffanie is also thin, and had pink hair up until this past weekend, when she changed it to magenta.

3. Stolen property from residential burglaries in Villa Park and Laguna Hills was found in a storage unit leased to Zachary and Tiffanie.

4. Zachary is on parole and served time in prison for residential burglaries.

LBPD Booking photos

Zachary Morales and Tiffanie Moreland

Morales and Moreland were arrested for burglary.


Police Files

Man who sucker-punched Trump supporter will see jail time

On Tuesday, August 22, Richard Losey, 20, from Ohio, was arrested for sucker-punching an African-American Trump supporter after the rally that took place on Sunday the 20th at Main Beach. He was charged with misdemeanor battery.

On Friday, September 1, Losey pleaded guilty and was sentenced to thirty days in county jail followed by three years of informal probation.

Resident discovers burglary in progress at his home

On Friday, September 1, a resident in the 30600 block of Driftwood Drive arrived home only to realize that an unfamiliar car was parked in their driveway. The resident also noticed that the garage door appeared to be broken in.

The RP called the police and waited for officers to arrive. While waiting, he saw a man and a woman walk out of his house with a clothes hamper. The pair entered the white Hyundai parked in the driveway and left, hitting the victim’s vehicle on their way out.

When officers arrived, they confirmed that the home had indeed been broken into, and the duo had made off with $5,000 in purses and $12,000 in jewelry.

The suspects were described as a woman in her 20s or 30s with pink or red hair, and a man wearing a blue bandana across his face.


Police Files

Something’s up in the neighborhood…

On Thursday morning, the Laguna Beach PD was called to help out Homeland Security and the IRS with a federal search warrant. 

“The warrant was executed at approximately 8 a.m. at a residence in the 2000 block of Crestview Drive,” said Sgt. Jim Cota, LBPD spokesperson. “Two vehicles and documents were seized by the federal agents.”

Because it is an ongoing federal investigation, no further details are available at this time. 

Click on photo for a larger image

Courtesy LBPD Facebook


Police Files

Property manager arrested for jewelry heist of South Laguna home

On Tuesday, August 15, Laguna Beach Police Officers responded to investigate a report of a residential burglary in South Laguna. The residence is a vacation home, and the owners were out of town at the time. The property manager, 36-year-old Raul Aguilera, had notified police about the burglary and the homeowners listed multiple pieces of jewelry missing from their residence. The total reported loss of jewelry was more than three quarters of a million dollars – $765,912.00.

On August 21, detectives from the Laguna Beach Police Department began their investigation and through additional follow-up, identified Aguilera as the suspect in the case. The investigation led detectives to a pawn shop in Orange County, where they were able to locate some of the missing jewelry and seize it as evidence.

On August 23, detectives served a search warrant on Aguilera’s residence. During the search of Aguilera’s home, detectives located additional stolen property and jewelry belonging to the victims in this case.

Aguilera was taken into custody without incident and booked into Orange County Jail, where he is being held on $765,912 bail – the exact amount the jewelry had been valued at. He has since pleaded not guilty to the felony grand theft charge.

Anyone with any information regarding this investigation is encouraged to call the Laguna Beach Police Department at (949) 497-0701.  For further information, please contact Sergeant Jim Cota at (949) 464-6671 or This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

 

DUI Checkpoint nets five arrests

LBPD conducted a DUI/Drivers License checkpoint on August 26, in the area of Coast Highway and Aliso Beach between the hours of 9 p.m. and 3 a.m.

Checkpoints are placed in locations that have the greatest opportunity for achieving drunk and drugged driving deterrence and provide the greatest safety for officers and the public. 

Here are the stats from Friday: 1,834 vehicles went through the Checkpoint; 864 drivers were greeted. Five DUI-Alcohol suspects were arrested. Four drivers were cited/arrested for operating a vehicle unlicensed or while suspended/revoked and four citations were issued. 

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

The Laguna Beach Police Department will be conducting numerous DUI education/enforcement details throughout 2017 in an ongoing commitment to lowering deaths and injuries upon our streets and highways. 

The checkpoint was funded by a grant from the California Office of Traffic Safety, through the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, reminding everyone to ‘Report Drunk Drivers – Call 9-1-1.”


Police Files

Peace, love – and then a punch at Sunday’s rally

Placards pleading for love and peace dominated at the 2,500 strong rally last Sunday afternoon – mixed in with aggressive slogans carried by extremists on the left and right – and finally, after hours of relative calm, came “The Punch.” 

And now video of The Punch is all over social media, from You Tube to activist websites.

“The victim, an African American Republican and supporter of President Trump, was speaking peacefully with a group of people when he was sucker-punched,” LBPD spokesperson Sgt Jim Cota said. “The attacker fled from the scene and incident went unreported at the time. The next day the victim, R.C. Maxwell of Los Angeles, reported the attack.”

This video captures the punch

According to media reports, Maxwell said he was trying to make the point that being against illegal immigration didn’t make someone a Nazi sympathizer. Associates of his were filming with their cell phones when the incident took place.

“There was no indication that the violence was a set-up in any way,” Sgt Cota said. “There’s no way to take a punch like that and not be hurt.”

Sgt Cota said that the suspect, identified as Richard Losey, 20, was “a familiar face” around town and within 24 hours “in typical LBPD no-nonsense style,” Losey was in custody.

Losey’s motivations for throwing the punch remain unknown.

“The suspect is not a transient, but he does not appear to have a permanent home here in Laguna,” Cota added. “He’s from Lancaster, Ohio, and was caught while trying to get a bus pass back there.”

Losey was booked into Orange County Jail with a $50,000 bail for misdemeanor battery with a hate crime enhancement.

His arrest brings the number of arrests related to Sunday’s rally to four, including the arrest of Harlan Pankau Jr., 38, for felony for carrying a concealed dirk or dagger. Bail in his case was set at $20,000.

Attempts to reach Mr. Maxwell for comment were unsuccessful.

Anyone with any information regarding this investigation is encouraged to call Laguna Beach Police Department at (949) 497-0701. 

 

This week, someone got a visit from the LBPD…

More to come, Sgt Cota promises – we’ll be following up…

Click on photo for a larger image

Photo from LBPD Facebook page

Det Cornelius Ashton pays a visit

 

Remember, DUI doesn’t just mean booze: checkpoint planned for this weekend

The Laguna Beach Police Department will be conducting a DUI/driver’s license checkpoint on Saturday, August 26 at an undisclosed location within the city limits between 9 p.m. and 3 a.m.

California has seen a disturbing increase in drug-impaired driving crashes, according to the press release. Laguna Beach PD and the Office of Traffic Safety aim to educate all drivers that “DUI Doesn’t Just Mean Booze.” Prescription drugs and marijuana can also be impairing, especially in combination with alcohol or other drugs, and can result in a DUI.

Research shows that crashes involving an impaired driver can be reduced by up to 20 percent when well-publicized, proactive DUI operations are conducted routinely. In California, alcohol involved collisions led to 1,155 deaths and nearly 24,000 serious injuries in 2014 because someone failed to designate a sober driver.

Officers will be looking for signs of alcohol and/or drug impairment and checking drivers for proper licensing. 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 LBPD by a grand from the California Office of Traffic Safety, through the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, reminding everyone to ‘Report Drunk Driving – Call 911.’

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.


Peace, love and protective police kept Saturday rally safe, joyful and positive

Approximately 350 people gathered at Main Beach on Saturday morning to celebrate love, diversity and equality, and to protest racism and neo-Nazi philosophies following the tragic events in Charlottesville. 

Click on photo for a larger image

Photo by Lynette

Almost all demonstrators carried placards with positive messages

The decision to rally before the following day’s planned America First march would, Mayor Toni Iseman and Democratic groups hoped, offer residents an opportunity to express their emotions while denying oxygen to the anti-immigration group meeting on Sunday evening. 

“Here in Laguna, we don’t just tolerate diversity,” Iseman said, “We embrace diversity.”  

The “Unity Rally” was peaceful (in a loud way, given the chants) from beginning to end. Police officers were visible, deterring the likelihood of aggression on anyone’s part, though this particular crowd seemed composed almost entirely of like-minded people. 

Several speakers, including Mayor Iseman, paid tribute to the LBPD for their vigilance and support, as well as their work in communicating with the community about the rally.

A lone Trump supporter, Cherie Allen, aimed a double thumbs-down sign a few times in the direction of the placard-carrying crowd. But Allen said she shares the desire for peace, yet feels that as a Christian she is targeted sometimes by liberals. 

She supports President Trump, “Though I don’t agree with everything he says,” Allen said. “But he hasn’t been given a chance. He needs to be given the respect of the office.” 

The 50-year-Laguna resident sat quietly during the speeches, occasionally mouthing agreement or disagreement, but listening respectfully.

“I can’t support people who [support abortion],” noted Allen, who says she has sometimes been known as the “Peace Lady of Laguna.”

Click on photo for a larger image

Photo by Lynette

L-R: Rick Fletcher and his wife, Lori Werstein and Dan Mariner

Most at the rally felt particular protective of Laguna.

Resident Dan Mariner said, “What makes Laguna great is that it is such a melting pot, a microcosm of America. Different cultures are welcome here.”

Rick Fletcher nodded. “Laguna is all about love.”

Rick’s wife (my apologies, I can’t find her name in my notes!) told Stu News Laguna, “My parents brought me here when I was just five years old, decades ago. I know they’d approve of this. Laguna is no place for hate.”

Daughter-in-law Lori Werstein commented: “It felt hopeful and peaceful, very positive, this morning. That’s what we need.”

Thank goodness, there were no sounds of gunshots or screams of injured victims: only the honk of horns, chanting, and the barking of dogs; no smell of smoke, only the briny breeze; no shoving, only hugs and pats on the back.

Laguna’s reputation as a peaceful town remained intact. And then came Sunday…and (see Barbara Diamond’s report), peace pretty much continued to reign.

--Lynette Brasfield


Police Files

Run + ignore officer’s commands = maybe a  Taser

On Thursday around 9:30 p.m., officers contacted a man at Jasmine Street and N. Coast Hwy. The man was drinking alcohol from a cup and gave officers a false name.

During the interaction with officers, the man, later identified as Ralph Bowers, 47, Huntington Beach, took off running from the officer in the middle of Coast Hwy.

“Bowers ignored the officer’s commands to stop,” said Sgt. Jim Cota, LBPD spokesperson. “He was told to stop or a Taser would be utilized to stop him.”

Despite these verbal warnings, Bowers continued to run and was subsequently tasered. Additionally, a brief fight ensued between him and the arresting officer.

Bowers was taken into custody and charged with resisting a police officer, delaying/obstructing an officer, providing false information, and battery on an officer. He was booked and transported to Orange County Jail. 

Remember, DUI doesn’t just mean booze: checkpoint planned for this weekend

The Laguna Beach Police Department will be conducting a DUI/driver’s license checkpoint on Saturday, August 26 at an undisclosed location within the city limits between 9 p.m. and 3 a.m.

California has seen a disturbing increase in drug-impaired driving crashes, according to the press release. Laguna Beach PD and the Office of Traffic Safety aim to educate all drivers that “DUI Doesn’t Just Mean Booze.” Prescription drugs and marijuana can also be impairing, especially in combination with alcohol or other drugs, and can result in a DUI.

Research shows that crashes involving an impaired driver can be reduced by up to 20 percent when well-publicized, proactive DUI operations are conducted routinely. In California, alcohol involved collisions led to 1,155 deaths and nearly 24,000 serious injuries in 2014 because someone failed to designate a sober driver.

Officers will be looking for signs of alcohol and/or drug impairment and checking drivers for proper licensing. 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 LBPD by a grand from the California Office of Traffic Safety, through the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, reminding everyone to ‘Report Drunk Driving – Call 911.’

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

18-year-old arrested for stealing a car

On Monday, August 14, at 9:12 p.m., officers were alerted to a stolen Toyota Tacoma entering the city. It had been stolen out of Lake Forest on Friday.

Laguna Beach police officers located the car and had all three of its occupants detained by 9:25 p.m.

The driver, 18-year-old Luis Reynasoto from Lake Forest, was arrested for possession of a stolen vehicle, receipt of stolen property, and burglary.

The truck was returned to its owner.

Don’t light tree branches on fire

On Sunday afternoon, a caller reported seeing two men using rags to extinguish a tree branch that was on fire near Stan Oak Drive and Laguna Canyon Road.

Orange County Fire Authority was called, but requested that Laguna Beach handle the situation due to the small size of the fire.

The branch was extinguished just six minutes after the initial call.

One of the two men, Kameran Cherrier, 29, Laguna Beach, was arrested for resisting officers and for misdemeanor reckless burning.


Police Files

Motorist vs bicyclist: bicyclist wins

On Thursday, August 10, at 9:42 a.m., Laguna Beach police officers responded to a report of a disturbance at the intersection of Bluebird Canyon Road and S Coast Hwy.

According to witnesses on scene, the disturbance began when the suspect, a motorist, intentionally struck a person riding his bicycle. When confronted about this by another bicyclist, the suspect then intentionally tried to run him over as well. The suspect fled the scene prior to officers arriving.

Laguna Beach Police Department patrol officers and detectives responded to the scene and obtained a description of the suspect and his vehicle. Using this information, detectives identified Kevin O’Neill, a 53-year-old resident of Laguna Beach, as a possible suspect. Witnesses and victims positively identified O’Neill in a photo lineup.

On Sunday, August 13, police officers stopped O’Neill while he was driving his vehicle and placed him under arrest. He was charged with two counts of assault with a deadly weapon and booked into Orange County Jail.

Anyone with any information regarding this investigation is encouraged to call the Laguna Beach Police Department at 949-497-0701. For further information, please contact Sergeant Jim Cota at 949-464-6671 or This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

Road rage results in DUI arrest

On Saturday around 3 p.m., callers reported that a Toyota Camry rear-ended a Tesla and attempted to drive away.

When officers arrived, they discovered that the victim stood in front of the Camry as it was attempting to leave the scene and was struck by the vehicle.

“The driver, identified as 57-year-old Anaheim resident William Boeck, exhibited signs of driving while impaired and was investigated for driving under the influence,” said Sgt. Jim Cota. 

Boeck was arrested for a fourth offense of driving under the influence and, since he tried to hit the other party with his car, assault with a deadly weapon.


Incident Reports

Saturday, July 21

Myrtle Street & N Coast Highway | DUI (with a prior)

9:08 a.m. Michael Anthony Hilbert, 48, El Cajon, was arrested on suspicion of DUI with a prior DUI. Bail was set at $10,000.

Forrest Ave | Warrants

5:13 p.m. Frank David Mitlo, 45, Arlington, TX was arrested for felony out-of-jurisdiction warrants. A license plate reader alerted LBPD that the registered owner, Mitlo, had felony warrants for residential burglary and elder abuse with full extradition for both. No bail was set.

N Coast Hwy| 200 Block | Disorderly Conduct – Alcohol

1:39 p.m. A 22-year-old San Clemente man was arrested for disorderly conduct related to alcohol. Bail was set at $500.

Upland Road | 200 Block | Possession of a Controlled Substance, Possession of Controlled Substance Paraphernalia

1:14 p.m. J Anthony Margarite, 38, Laguna Beach, was arrested for being in possession of a controlled substance (bail was set at $500) and controlled substance paraphernalia (bail was set at $500).

Upland Road | 200 Block | Possession of a Controlled Substance Without a Prescription, Possession of Controlled Substance Paraphernalia 

1:14 p.m. Ebony Beulah Bocage, 34, Colton, CA, was arrested for being in possession of a controlled substance without a prescription (bail was set at $500) and possession of a controlled substance (bail was set at $500).

Laguna Canyon Road | 20600 Block | Vehicle Theft

6:34 a.m. Kwang Tae Yu, 44, Pomona, was arrested for vehicle theft, taking a vehicle without the owner’s consent. Bail was $20,000.

Laguna Canyon Road | 20300 Block | DUI

2:25 a.m. A 33-year-old Mission Viejo woman was arrested on suspicion of DUI. Bail was set at $2,500.

Canyon Acres Drive & Arroyo Drive | Possession of a Controlled Substance, Possession of Controlled Substance Paraphernalia

1:51 a.m. Madeleine Elizabeth Shane, 38, Laguna Beach, was arrested for being in possession of a controlled substance (bail was set at $500) and controlled substance paraphernalia (bail was set at $500).

Canyon Acres Drive & Arroyo Drive | Possession of a Narcotic Controlled Substance 

1:51 a.m. Jason Michael Killpack, 38, San Clemente, was arrested for being in possession of a narcotic controlled substance. Bail was set at $500.

Bluebird Canyon & S Coast Hwy| Possession of a Controlled Substance, Possession of Controlled Substance Paraphernalia

12:06 a.m. Phillip Arthur Rose, Jr, 54, Laguna Niguel, was arrested for being in possession of a controlled substance (bail was set at $500) and controlled substance paraphernalia (bail was set at $500).

Wesley Drive & Coast Highway | Vehicle Theft

12:05 a.m. An LBPD officer was alerted by a citizen that a subject was seen trying to get into a woman’s car in the underground parking lot at Gelson’s. The male suspect was described as a white male with beige pants and a black backpack. An officer found the suspect and made contact with him. The police report was not completed by press time.

Friday, July 20

Regatta Road | 1500 Block | Vandalism

9:06 p.m. A resident reported that someone shot out the windows of her home. She stated that there was minor damage to the window by the front door and that she thought the shooter might have used a .22 or a BB pellet. The suspect is unknown.

N Coast Hwy | 100 Block | Bench Warrant

5:13 p.m. Reese Mitchel Westenberger, 53, Laguna Beach, was arrested for a bench warrant for shoplifting. According to LBPD’s arrest log, bail was set at $25,000.

Parked on ocean side of Coast Hwy | Bench Warrant

2:33 p.m. Joseph Matthew Olivas, 35, Trabucco Canyon, was arrested for a bench warrant for driving without a valid driver’s license. Bail was set at $1,500.

S Coast Hwy| 1700 Block | Bench Warrants

1:03 p.m. Maria Cortez Rodriguez, 46, Laguna Niguel, was arrested on two outstanding warrants, a DUI (bail was set at $10,000) and for driving with a suspended license (bail was set at $2,500). It was reported that “two females were seen drinking beer seated on a planter box in the parking lot, under a tree,” LBPD Spokesperson, Emergency Services Coordinator, Jordan Villwock said. The RP said there has been an issue with increased loitering, drinking, and leaving trash behind in the area, and that they usually see a lot of trash in the morning and would like to see patrol cars in the area during the night.

Forest Ave| 500 Block | Battery

12:41 p.m. Raquel Rodriguez, 46, Newport Beach, was arrested for battery. Bail was set at $10,000.

S Coast Hwy| 600 Block | Bench Warrants

2:07 a.m. Timothy Patrick Ahern, 49, Scottsdale, AZ, was arrested for two bench warrants. Bails were set at $10,000 and $2,500. 

Bluebird Canyon Drive & S Coast Hwy | Driving on a Suspended or Revoked Driver’s License

1:17 a.m. Christian Ibsem Ho, 34, Hacienda Heights, was arrested for driving on a suspended or revoked without a valid driver’s license. Bail was set at $500.

Broadway Street & Beach Street | DUI, Driving with a Blood Alcohol Content 0.08% or Higher, Driving without a Valid Driver’s License

12:30 a.m. A 23-year-old San Juan Capistrano man was arrested on suspicion of DUI (bail was set at $2,500), driving with a blood alcohol content of 0.08% or higher (bail was set at $2,500), and driving without a valid driver’s license (bail was set at $500).

Coast Hwy| 30800 Block | Under the Influence of a Controlled Substance

12:17 a.m. Luis Enrique Yebra, 56, Fontana, was arrested for being under the influence of a controlled substance. Bail was set at $1,000.

Thursday, July 19

Laguna Canyon Road | 20600 Block| Trespassing

9:44 p.m. Kenneth Lee Koestler, 43, Laguna Beach, was arrested for trespassing. Bail was set at $500.

Bluebird Canyon Drive & S Coast Hwy | DUI

7:38 p.m. A 57-year-old San Clemente woman was arrested on suspicion of DUI. Bail was set at $2,500.

Bluebird Canyon Drive | 200 Block| Disorderly Conduct

4:13 a.m. A 24-year-old Laguna Beach man was arrested for disorderly conduct. Bail was set at $500.

N Coast Hwy | 100 Block | DUI

3:04 a.m. A 21-year-old Ontario man was arrested on suspicion of DUI. Bail was set at $2,500.

Wednesday, July 18

St Anns Drive | 300 Block | Bench Warrants

10:16 p.m. Scott Foresman Armstrong, 55, Laguna Beach, was arrested with an outstanding bench warrant (bail was set at $2,500) and a second bench warrant (bail was set at $1,500). 

Balboa Ave | 800 Block | DUI, Driving with a Blood Alcohol Content 0.08% or Higher

6:22 p.m. An 18-year-old Foothill Ranch man was arrested on suspicion of DUI (bail was set at $2,500) and driving with a blood alcohol content of .08 percent or higher (bail was set at $2,500).

Canyon Acres Drive | 100 Block | Possession of a Narcotic Controlled Substance, Possession of Controlled Substance Paraphernalia

6:09 p.m. Evan Garrett Miller, 31, Laguna Beach, was arrested for being in possession of a narcotic controlled substance (bail was set at $500) and controlled substance paraphernalia (bail was set at $500).

Canyon Acres Drive | 100 Block | Possession of a Narcotic Controlled Substance, Possession of Controlled Substance Paraphernalia

6:09 p.m. Veronica Faith Parker, 28, Laguna Beach, was arrested for being in possession of a narcotic controlled substance (bail was set at $500) and controlled substance paraphernalia (bail was set at $500). 

Broadway Street | 300 Block | Parole Violation

2:05 p.m. Ralph Bowers, 48, Laguna Beach was arrested for parole violation. No bail was set.

N Coast Hwy| 200 Block | Disorderly Conduct – Alcohol

1:39 p.m. A 22-year-old San Clemente man was arrested for disorderly conduct related to alcohol. Bail was set at $500.


Police Files

Unwanted sleepover nets arrest

On Monday, August 7 around 8:15 a.m., officers responded to a residence under construction in the 2400 block of S. Coast Hwy. A caller had reported a suspicious person on the property.

“Upon arrival, the officers immediately recognized the man as Reese Westenberger,” said Sgt. Jim Cota, LBPD spokesperson. “Inside the residence, property was located that belonged to him.”

Westenberger, 52, no fixed address admitted to staying at the residence overnight and storing his property there.

He was arrested for burglary and later transported to Orange County Jail.


Incident Reports

Tuesday, July 17

Bluemont Street| 500 Block | Bench Warrant

2:14 a.m. Robert Kenneth Berglund, 55, Santa Ana, was arrested for an outstanding felony bench warrant. Bail was not indicated in the arrest report.

Cliff Drive| 300 Block | Disorderly Conduct – Alcohol

12:40 p.m. A 67-year-old Laguna Beach man was arrested for disorderly conduct related to alcohol, on his birthday. Bail was set at $500.

Glenneyre Street| 800 Block | Disorderly Conduct – Alcohol, Obstructing or Resisting an Executive Officer

5:56 p.m. Jeffery Donald Cates, 57, Los Angeles, was arrested for disorderly conduct related to alcohol (bail was set at $500) and felony obstructing or resisting an executive officer (bail was set at $25,000).

S. Coast Hwy| 400 Block | Disorderly Conduct – Alcohol

9:38 p.m. A 40-year-old Los Angeles man was arrested for disorderly conduct related to alcohol. Bail was set at $500.

Laguna Canyon Road | 20300 Block | DUI

10:36 p.m. A 53-year-old Anaheim man was arrested on suspicion of DUI. Bail was set at $2,500.

Monday, July 16

S. Coast Hwy| 1100 Block | Disorderly Conduct – Alcohol

1:25 a.m. A 60-year-old Laguna Beach woman was arrested for disorderly conduct related to alcohol. Bail was set at $500.

S. Coast Hwy| 100 Block | Outstanding Warrant

2:31 a.m. Donald Douglas Kramer, 46, Laguna Beach, was arrested for a bench warrant. Bail was set at $200,000.

S. Coast Hwy| 1200 Block | Bench Warrant

12:52 p.m. Michael Hays Matekel, 29, Laguna Beach, was arrested for an outstanding felony bench warrant. Bail was set at $10,000.

Forest Ave| 200 Block | Bench Warrant, Disorderly Conduct – Alcohol

12:52 p.m. Sean Patrick Eskeli, 55, Laguna Beach, was arrested for a bench warrant (bail was set at $1,500) and for disorderly conduct related to alcohol (bail was set at $500).

Laguna Canyon Road | 20600 Block | Possession of a Controlled Substance, Possession of Controlled Substance Paraphernalia

4:10 p.m. Allan Neville Friant, 39, Laguna Beach, was arrested for being in possession of a controlled substance (bail was set at $500) and controlled substance paraphernalia (bail was set at $500).

Laguna Canyon Road | 20600 Block | Possession of a Narcotic Controlled Substance, Possession of Controlled Substance Paraphernalia

4:10 p.m. Anita Marie Novak, 39, Sterling Heights, MI, was arrested for being in possession of a narcotic controlled substance (bail was set at $500) and controlled substance paraphernalia (bail was set at $500).

Coast Hwy | 31100 Block | Possession of a Controlled Substance Without a Prescription, Possession of a Controlled Substance 

8:59 p.m. Sarah Anne Alwan, 27, Colton, CA, was arrested for being in possession of a controlled substance without a prescription and possession of a controlled substance. Bail was set at $500.

Coast Hwy | 31100 Block | Battery on a Peace Officer

8:59 p.m. Neyzza Mendoza, 25, Huntington Park, was arrested for battery on a police officer, emergency personnel, etc. Bail was set at $500.

Sunday, July 15

Wesley Drive & Coast Hwy | DUI, Driving with a Blood Alcohol Content 0.08% or Higher

1:28 a.m. A 24-year-old Murrieta man was arrested on suspicion of DUI (bail was set at $2,500) and for driving with a blood alcohol content of .08 percent or higher (bail was set at $2,500).

Broadway Street & coast Highway | Vehicle Theft

2:08 a.m. Miguel Castaneda, 38, Inglewood, was arrested for vehicle theft, taking a vehicle without the owner’s consent. Officers were alerted to a stolen vehicle entering the city limits by way of Laguna Canyon Road. The vehicle was stolen from the city of Inglewood. The vehicle was observed at Forest Avenue and Broadway and occupied by one individual. Officers conducted a high-risk vehicle stop at Broadway and Coast Highway. “The driver, identified as Miguel Castaneda, was arrested for possession of a stolen vehicle. He chose to “plead the fifth” when questioned about the stolen vehicle. He was booked and transported to OCJ,” according to LBPD Spokesperson PIO Sgt Jim Cota. Bail was set at $20,000. “If you choose to come to Laguna Beach in a stolen vehicle, you will be found and arrested. Our officers are just the best in the business at locating stolen vehicle’s,” Sgt Cota added.   

Thalia Street & Glenneyre Street | DUI – Drugs, Possession of Controlled Substance Paraphernalia

9:08 a.m. A 38-year-old Laguna Hills woman was arrested on suspicion of DUI – drugs (bail was set at $2,500) and for being in possession of a controlled substance paraphernalia (bail was set at $500).

S. Coast Hwy | 100 Block | Parole Violation

10:55 a.m. Michael Patrick Cohen, 46, Laguna Beach was arrested for parole violation. Bail was not listed.

S. Coast Hwy | 1500 Block | Warrants

3:04 p.m. Christopher Brian Lawson, 29, Laguna Niguel was arrested for two outstanding bench warrants. Bail was set at $2,500 each.

Broadway Street | 300 Block | Resisting Arrest

6:38 p.m. Christian Dale Gaddis, 51, Lake Forest, was arrested for resisting arrest. Bail was set at $500.

Broadway Street & N. Coast Hwy | DUI

9:50 p.m. A 25-year-old Westminster man was arrested on suspicion of DUI. Bail was set at $2,500.

S. Coast Hwy| 1400 Block | Disorderly Conduct Alcohol

9:21 p.m. A 42-year-old Florida man was arrested for disorderly conduct, alcohol. Bail was set at $500.


Incident Reports

Tuesday, July 24

Laguna Canyon Road | 20600 Block | Possession of a Controlled Substance, Possession of Controlled Substance Paraphernalia 

8:21 p.m. Vincent Lombardi Hassell, 44, Greenville, WI, was arrested for being in possession of a controlled substance (bail was set at $500) and possession of a controlled substance paraphernalia (bail was set at $500).

Laguna Ave | 200 Block | DUI, Driving with a Blood Alcohol Content 0.08% or Higher

8:17 p.m. A 26-year-old Beaumont man was arrested on suspicion of DUI (bail was set at $2,500) and driving with a blood alcohol content of 0.08% or higher (bail was set at $2,500).

Arroyo Drive | 1600 Block | Animal Call, Rattlesnake

6:25 p.m. A baby rattlesnake was reported on the RP’s steps, but was gone on arrival after the call.

Cliff Drive | 800 Block | H & S Activity

6:23 p.m. LBPD received a call that kids were smoking pot across the street. LBPD went to check out the situation and no violations were seen.

Monday, July 23

Balboa Ave | 29900 Block | Animal Call, Rattlesnake

6:25 p.m. LBPD received a call that there was a baby rattlesnake on the black pavement next to the grass where the kids and pets are.

Coast Hwy | 31900 Block | Parole Violation

2:05 p.m. Shawn Michael Juan Rosales, 21, El Monte, was arrested for violating a court order for domestic violence and parole violation. No bail was set.

Coast Hwy | 600 Block | Disorderly Conduct – Soliciting a Lewd Act

2:01 p.m. Leslie Jan Shacklett, 56, Laguna Beach, was arrested for disorderly contact, soliciting a lewd act. Bail was set at $1,000.

Coast Hwy | 600 Block | Disorderly Conduct – Soliciting a Lewd Act

2:01 p.m. Arash Rahimi, 39, Laguna Beach, was arrested for disorderly contact, soliciting a lewd act. Bail was set at $1,000.

Van Dyke Drive | 900 Block | Wires Down

9:40 a.m. LBPD received reports that on Friday, a construction truck had pulled down some wires, possibly a telephone wire. The RP stated that in the past it took several days for the phone company to respond and fix the issue. According to her, no one called on Friday for a response.

Doormoor Street & Hillcrest Drive | Animal Call, Mountain Lion

9:40 a.m. LBPD received reports of a mountain lion in the area 30 minutes prior. There were no further details available.

Laguna Canyon Road | 20600 Block | DUI (drugs)

8:30 a.m. A 34-year-old Coto de Caza woman was arrested on suspicion of DUI related to drugs. Bail was set at $2,500.

Coast Hwy | 600 Block | Domestic Violence

8:02 a.m. Kimberly Ivy Gold, 49, Laguna Beach, was arrested for domestic violence, injuring a spouse, cohabitant or fellow parent in an act of domestic violence. Bail was set at $50,000.

S Coast Hwy | 1100 Block |  Possession of a Narcotic Controlled Substance, 

2:07 a.m. Lisandro Martinez, 61, Mira Loma, was arrested for being in possession of a narcotic controlled substance. Bail was set at $500.

N Coast Hwy| 200 Block | Disorderly Conduct – Alcohol

11:53 p.m. An 18-year-old Laguna Beach woman was arrested for disorderly conduct, alcohol. Bail was set at $500.

N Coast Hwy| 200 Block | Disorderly Conduct – Drugs

12:11 a.m. A 24-year-old Laguna Beach man was arrested for disorderly conduct, drugs. Bail was set at $500.

Sunday, July 22

3rd Ave & Mar Vista Ave | Disorderly Conduct – Alcohol

11:53 p.m. An 18-year-old Laguna Beach resident was arrested for disorderly conduct, alcohol. Bail was set at $500.

Broadway Street | 200 Block | Bench Warrant

10:59 p.m. Ernesto Flores Solano, 35, Santa Ana, was arrested for a bench warrant related to driving without a license (bail was set at at $2,500) and for making an illegal turn crossing a double parallel solid yellow lines (bail was set at $500).

N Coast Hwy | 100 Block | Possession of a Controlled Substance Without a Prescription, Driving on a Suspended or Revoked Driver’s License

7:09 p.m. Marcus Anthony Iribarne, 19, Laguna Niguel, was arrested for being in possession of a controlled substance without a prescription (bail was set at $500) and for driving on a suspended or revoked without a valid driver’s license (bail was set at $500).

N Coast Hwy | 100 Block | Possession of a Controlled Substance, Possession of Controlled Substance Paraphernalia

2:49 p.m. Tatum McCall Wadle, 24, Luling, TX, was arrested for being in possession of a controlled substance (bail was set at $500) and controlled substance paraphernalia (bail was set at $500).

Laguna Canyon Road & Hwy | Possession of a Controlled Substance Without a Prescription, DUI (drugs) 

10:02 a.m. Briana Burke Lee, 34, Coto de Caza, was arrested for being in possession of a controlled substance without a prescription (bail was set at $500) on suspicion of DUI related to drugs (bail was set at $2,500).

Laguna Canyon Road | 20600 Block | Bench Warrant

9:37 a.m. Travis Burton Elsasser, 28, Costa Mesa, was arrested for a bench warrant for not being arraigned. Bail was set at $2,500.

Via Majorica | 800 Block | Animal Call, Dog

8:56 a.m. LBPD received a call about a large dog that had “almost nipped at the neighbor” a few days prior and was “back again.” The dog, whose breed was unknown, was reportedly “also known to be in the neighborhood off leash.”

Ocean Ave | 200 Block | Disorderly Conduct – Alcohol

1:33 a.m. A 23-year-old Palos Verdes man was arrested for disorderly conduct, alcohol. Bail was set at $500.


Police Files

There’s no Jell-o in jail

On Saturday, August 5 at 5:17 a.m., a residential alarm went off in the 800 block of S. Coast Hwy. Officers went to the scene and found an open slider door, which they entered. After announcing their presence, they heard movement on the upper floor.

Ross Simard, 34, Malibu, was detained in handcuffs after coming down the stairs. He first claimed to be the owner of the property, and then claimed his girlfriend owned the property. But, the names he gave were not associated with the property. The caretaker and owner verified that Simard should not have been on the property.

Surveillance footage shows Ross Simard, 34, Malibu, at a residence in the 800 block of S. Coast Hwy.

 “A search of the interior showed Simard had taken food out and made himself a snack, which included Jell-o,” said Sgt. Jim Cota, LBPD spokesperson. 

Simard was arrested for burglary, providing a false name to police, and a $300,000 felony warrant for a prior burglary in Los Angeles. 

“He also told officers he swallowed two grams of heroin before he was contacted inside the residence,” said Cota. “He was taken to Mission Hospital for a medical clearance and then transported to Orange County Jail,” where, we are told, there is no Jell-o. 

Doctor shopper is prescribed jail

On Wednesday around 4 p.m., a woman arrived at Mission Hospital for multiple medical ailments. But, medical staff was aware that a woman matching her description would visit hospitals, request medications and extend her stay. 

Officers were contacted, and the woman, Texas resident Tenetra Jones, 31, attempted to leave upon finding this out.

“Inside Jones’ bag was discharge paperwork from various hospitals,” said Cota. “They all had different names. Also located was prescription pills in another name.

“Officers believed she was ‘Doctor Shopping’ and had over 30 different medications and associated ailments in which certain medication was given,” he explained.

Jones was ultimately arrested for providing false names for medical services, providing a false name to an officer, and entering a business with the intent to defraud.


Incident Reports

Saturday, July 14

Forest Ave| 200 Block | Disorderly Conduct – Alcohol

9:23 p.m. A 32-year-old Mission Viejo man was arrested for disorderly conduct related to alcohol. Bail was set at $500.

Coast Hwy| 31100 Block | DUI

8:55 p.m. A 55-year-old Laguna Beach man was arrested on suspicion of DUI. Bail was set at $2,500.

Temple Hills Drive| 1300 Block | DUI

8:34 p.m. A 65-year-old Laguna Beach man was arrested on suspicion of DUI. Bail was set at $2,500.

Forest Ave| 200 Block | Disorderly Conduct – Alcohol

6:22 p.m. A 55-year-old Laguna Beach man was arrested for disorderly conduct related to alcohol. Bail was set at $500.

Glenneyre Street| 400 Block | Trespassing, Resisting Arrest

6:09 p.m. Leigh Alan Perry, 59, Laguna Niguel, was arrested for trespassing (bail was set at $500) and resisting arrest (bail was set at $500). 

S. Coast Hwy | 100 Block | Missing Children

5:37 p.m. An 8-year-old boy with brown hair and blue eyes wearing red swim trunks and a 17-year-old male wearing a blue Hawaiian shirt were reported missing. They were reunited with their parents five minutes later at 5:42 p.m.

S. Coast Hwy & Legion Street | Disorderly Conduct – Alcohol

2:35 p.m. A 25-year-old Fontana man and a 25-year-old Placentia woman were both arrested for disorderly conduct related to alcohol. Bail was set at $500 each.

Myrtle Street & N. Coast Hwy | Marijuana Possession

12:43 a.m. A 36-year-old Laguna Niguel man was arrested for illegal marijuana possession. Bail was set at $500.

State Hwy 73 & Greenfield Drive | DUI

12:32 a.m. A 29-year-old Garden Grove man arrested on suspicion of DUI. Bail was set at $2,500.

Forest Ave| 500 Block | Suspicious Person

11:24 a.m. The RP called to report a suspicious man was filming children. He was described as a white male with reddish hair. He was dressed in all black, including his shirt, jeans, shoes and sunglasses. He was advised by LBPD to stop and to get off the property.

Friday, July 13

S. Coast Hwy & Ocean Ave | Bench Warrant

9:54 p.m. Riley Michael McLendon, 44, Huntington Beach, was arrested for an outstanding bench warrant. Bail was set at $500. 

El Bosque & Catalina Street | Warrant, Driving on Suspended License

6:24 p.m. Carlos Lopez Rodas, 48, Santa Ana, was arrested for an outstanding warrant (bail was set at $10,000) and driving with a suspended license (bail was set at $500).

Unknown location | Emergency

5:58 p.m. A person called twice from the beach to report that a dog was possibly in distress in the water. The RP was told that lifeguards were already on scene with the dog owner and Marine Safety had been called to help rescue the dog.

Coast Hwy | 31100 Block | Threats

3:44 p.m. It was reported that a 17-year-old girl and her 16-year-old boyfriend were saving a firepit when adults threatened to “beat her up.” LBPD spoke to the adults who were reportedly threatening her earlier regarding a different incident. She called to have officers check and make sure everything was ok. The parents showed up. According to reports, the group of adults was unfriendly and uncooperative.

Laguna Canyon Road | 20600 Block | Possession of Narcotics, Possession of Controlled Substance Paraphernalia

2:57 a.m. Kenneth Lee Koestler, 48, Laguna Beach, was arrested for being in possession of narcotics (bail was set at $500) and controlled substance paraphernalia (bail was set at $500).

Coast Hwy | 31300 Block| Bench Warrant

12:13 a.m. Randal Robert Owings, 48, Tustin, was arrested for an outstanding bench warrant. Bail was set at $500. 

Thursday, July 12

St. Ann’s Drive | 100 Block | Under the Influence of a Controlled Substance 

6:37 p.m. Amando Javier Chavez Sandoval, 36, Lake Forest, was arrested for on suspicion of being under the influence of a controlled substance. Bail was set at $500.

Mar Vista Way | 1400 Block | Burglary 

2:50 p.m. A woman reported that jewelry and small amounts of cash were taken while she was away. Estimated loss is reported to be between $60,000 and $100,000.

St. Ann’s Drive | 300 Block | Possession of a Controlled Substance, Possession of Controlled Substance Paraphernalia

9:08 a.m. Manuel Omar Garncia, 36, Laguna Beach, was arrested for being in possession of a controlled substance (bail was set at $500) and controlled substance paraphernalia (bail was set at $500).

Wednesday, July 11

Eagle Rock Way | 31500 Block | Battery of Spouse/Ex-Spouse/Date

9:18 p.m. Thomas Andrew Seaman, 61, Laguna Beach, was arrested on suspicion of battery of a spouse, ex-spouse or date. Bail was set at $10,000.

Circle Way | 1300 Block| Missing Child

4:51 p.m. A 6-year-old girl was found at the North Crescent Bay Tower. The girl who was reported missing was wearing a two-piece blue swimsuit with white polka dots. She was reunited with her parents four minutes later at 4:56 p.m.

Marine Drive | 1100 Block| Property Damage

6:21 p.m. It was reported that a large tree fell on top of two cars. Limbs were cut back by Public Works, who also tried to contact the owners of the cars.

Shreve Drive | 000 Block| Warrant

4:12 p.m. Mark John Obymachow, 21, Seal Beach, was arrested for an outstanding warrant. Bail was set at $500. 

S. Coast Hwy | 100 Block| | Disorderly Conduct – Alcohol

11:45 a.m. A 55-year-old Laguna Beach man was arrested for disorderly conduct related to alcohol. Bail was set at $500.

Lookout Drive | 300 Block| Animal Call

10:26 a.m. A RP called to report that a tarantula was outside, in front of the garage. The spider was released.

Arroyo Drive | 1600 Block | Possession of Controlled Substance Paraphernalia

9:36 a.m. Michael Chandler Brooks, 34, Laguna Beach, was arrested for being in possession of controlled substance paraphernalia. Bail was set at $500.


Incident Reports

Tuesday, July 31

S Coast Hwy | 300 Block | Defrauding an Innkeeper

4:14 p.m. Cary Wayne Welch, 42, Lahaina, HI, was arrested for defrauding an innkeeper of $400 or less. Bail was set at $500.

N Coast Hwy & Broadway Street | Riding Bicycle Under the Influence of Alcohol and/or Drugs, Resisting Arrest 

2:44 p.m. Arthur Anthony Moreno, 63, Laguna Beach, was arrested on suspicion of riding a bicycle under the influence of alcohol and/or drugs (bail was set at $500) and resisting arrest (bail was set at $500).

Broadway Street | 300 Block | Parole Violation

12:48 a.m. Ralph Francis Bowers, 48, Huntington Beach, was arrested on a parole violation. No bail was set.

Monday, July 30

S Coast Hwy | 100 Block | Battery

6:41 p.m. Luis Enrique Yebra, 56, Fontana, was arrested for suspected battery. Bail was set at $500.

S Coast Hwy | 100 Block | Bench Warrants, Driving with a Suspended License, Driving without Proof of Insurance

4:13 p.m. Raul Miguel Martinez, 22, Cathedral City, was arrested on outstanding bench warrants, driving with a suspended license, and driving without proof of insurance. Bail was set at $35,000.

S Coast Hwy | 100 Block | Bench Warrant

11:52 a.m. Sean Patrick Eskeli, 55, Laguna Beach, was arrested on an outstanding bench warrant. Bail was set at $10,000.

Sunday, July 29

S Coast Hwy | 400 Block | Possession of Controlled Substance Paraphernalia, Bench Warrant 8:48 p.m. Matthew Stephens Higgins, 27, Amarillo, TX, was arrested for being in possession of controlled substance paraphernalia (bail was set at $500) and a bench warrant (bail was set at $2,500).

Park Ave | 200 Block |  DUI, Driving with a Blood Alcohol Content 0.08% or Higher

3:36 a.m. A 22-year-old Long Beach man was arrested on suspicion of DUI (bail was set at $2,500), driving with a blood alcohol content of 0.08% or higher (bail was set at $2,500.)

S Coast Hwy & Legion Street |  Throwing Object at/from Vehicle

2:55 p.m. The RP reported that the driver of a white Tesla, in an apparent road rage incident, threw an unknown object at the RP’s vehicle resulting in scratches to her vehicle.

Coast Hwy & West Street | DUI, Driving with a Blood Alcohol Content 0.08% or Higher

1:34 a.m. A 24-year-old Huntington Beach man was arrested on suspicion of DUI (bail was set at $2,500), driving with a blood alcohol content of 0.08% or higher (bail was set at $2,500).

N Coast Hwy & Broadway Street | Brandishing a Weapn

12:15 a.m. A caller reported that a man in a gray truck, who had been cutting off vehicles, got out of his car and pull out a knife at the RP after the RP honked at him. The suspect was unable to be located.


Incident Reports

Tuesday, Aug 7

S Coast Hwy | 1100 Block | Domestic Violence

11:15 p.m. Sean Patrick Minney, 30, Laguna Beach, was arrested on suspicion of domestic violence with minor injury, a felony. Bail was set at $50,000.

S Coast Hwy | 30900 Block | Receiving Stolen Goods

6:08 a.m. Manuel Omar Garncia, 36, Laguna Beach, was arrested for receiving stolen goods valued at $950 or less. Bail was set at $500.

Monday, Aug 6

Shady Lane | 28700 Block | Domestic Violence

7:28 a.m. Jeffery Scot Angus, 52, Laguna Beach, was arrested on suspicion of domestic violence with minor injury, a felony. Bail was set at $50,000.

Sunday, Aug 5

Cress Street | 700 Block | DUI, Possession of a Controlled Substance without a Prescription, Possession of a Controlled Substance 

8:33 p.m. Karen Leslie Hoefer, 43, San Juan Capistrano, was arrested on suspicion of DUI (bail was set at $2,500), for being in possession of a narcotic controlled substance (bail was set at $500), and possession of a controlled substance (bail was set at $500).

Laguna Canyon Road | 2400 Block | DUI, Driving with a Blood Alcohol Content 0.08% or Higher

3:22 a.m. A 47-year-old Santa Ana woman was arrested on suspicion of DUI (bail was set at $2,500), and driving with a blood alcohol content of 0.08% or higher (bail was set at $2,500).

Forest Lane | 200 Block | Resisting Arrest

2:50 a.m. Victor Fernandez Herrera, 23, Aliso Viejo, was arrested for resisting arrest. Bail was set at $500.

S Coast Hwy & Montage Resort Drive | Resisting Arrest, Battery on a Peace Officer, Threatening a Peace Officer

2:10 a.m. Jason Charles Dunkel, 38, Laguna Beach, was arrested for resisting arrest, battery on a peace officer and threatening a peace officer. Bail was set at $20,000.


Police Files

Smurf gets young men into trouble: Was it Jokey?

On Monday afternoon, a citizen reported vandalism that had just occurred on the 100 block of Thalia Street – the word “Smurf” had been written with a white marker onto a trashcan. 

Two young men, who were sitting in a vehicle directly next to the trashcan, proved to be uncooperative with officers. Inside the vehicle, the officers found an open 12 ounce glass bottle of Corona beer and an odor of marijuana. 

“A search of the vehicle revealed more beer and three grams of marijuana,” LBPD spokesperson Sgt. Jim Cota said. 

Officers found a white marker consistent with the graffiti on the trashcan in the center console. 

Vincent Podegracz, 19, from Redondo Beach was cited for possession of marijuana and possession of a paint marker. 

The other occupant, Dylan Hyman, 19, of Torrance, was taken into custody for possessing a fake identification used to purchase alcohol, possession of a switchblade knife, delaying/resisting arrest, possession of alcohol, and possession of a paint marker and aerosol cans to commit vandalism.

Not the kind of behavior one would expect from true Smurf fans! 

The moral of the story? It doesn’t pay to be uncooperative with the cops, no matter how minor the offense may seem.


Police Files

Glenneyre Street residences get a smashing wake-up

On Friday night at 11:45 p.m., after getting kicked out of Skyloft, 21-year-old Laguna Beach resident Zachary McGuinness was doing burnouts in the upper Glenneyre parking structure.

Photo by Kris Kovach

What it looked like the night of…

After his Tahoe struck a parked Mazda, he left the structure and took his burnouts to the street. That didn’t end up so well for the residents in the 500 block of Glenneyre Street.

Photo by Scott Brashier

The garages were red-tagged after a drunk driver crashed into them Friday night

“He lost control of the Chevy, which veered to the right and plowed through the triple garage doors,” explained Sgt. Jim Cota, LBPD spokesperson. “He was not injured,” and according to the police log, was able to get himself out of the vehicle.

McGuinness, who turned 22 on Saturday, was subsequently arrested for DUI with a BAC of 0.08 percent or above. 

Though a city building inspector red-tagged the garages, no residents were displaced.


Police Files

“They are brazen…” Two slickly dressed men steal nearly $200K from five shops at The Cliff

On July 26 at approximately 5 a.m., two men forced entry into five businesses located at The Shops at The Cliff’ Restaurant. The businesses included an art gallery, a jewelry store, and three other merchandise and retail shops. 

The total loss is estimated at more than $200,000. The suspects are described as two white male adults wearing long pants, button-up long-sleeved shirts, and heavy-duty gloves. Both were also wearing fedora/driving cap style hats.

LBPD is actively investigating a series of related commercial burglaries. Detectives have released images and surveillance video of the suspects and are asking for the public’s help in identifying them. (See above.)

“They are brazen, slick bandits. We are already getting tips galore,” Sgt. Cota told Stu News Laguna. “Time is ticking for them.”

Anyone with any information regarding this investigation or other similar incidents is asked to call the Laguna Beach Police Department at 949-497-0701. 

To submit tips anonymously, contact Crime Stoppers at 855-TIPS-OCCS or 855-847-6227. You can also reach Crime Stoppers online at www.crimestoppers.org

Man arrested with drugs, switchblade, leaded cane

On Sunday around 9 p.m., officers who responded to assist lifeguards near West Street Beach found more than they were expecting.

Forty-five minutes after arriving, Christopher Romano, 36, Rancho Santa Fe was arrested on an outstanding warrant.

He was also found to be in possession of drugs and weaponry, including a switchblade and a leaded cane. Romano was booked on those charges and held with $20,000 bail. 


Police Files

Dogged action helps cops nab car thief

Last Friday, July 21 at around 10 p.m., diners at Moulin Bistro and Alessa Laguna looked up from their plates to see a high-risk vehicle stop taking place – and Laguna’s police dog, Ranger, being quite persuasive in encouraging a car thief to surrender.

Valarie Hewin  (58), no fixed address, was arrested at gunpoint for possession of a stolen vehicle and driving on a suspended license. Hewin also had an outstanding felony no-bail warrant for her arrest. 

“Ranger was helpful in persuading her to surrender,” LBPD spokesperson Sgt. Jim Cota said. “If you’re a criminal, you don’t want to mess with that dog.”

The black Nissan Altima had been reported stolen from Enterprise Rent-a-Car. Officers first spotted the stolen vehicle driving northbound on S. Coast Highway from Nyes Place. 

German Auto thief apprehended

On Friday, an RP from German Auto brought police officers surveillance video from a burglary that took place at the business. An unknown individual entered the premises and took items from several vehicles.

“A suspect was located and admitted to stealing the items. He was identified as homeless resident Brandon Heath,” Sgt. Cota said.

Heath, age 23, was charged with grand theft, possession of stolen property, attempted vehicle theft, and tampering with a vehicle.

New police officers join LBPD

Three new Laguna Beach police officers were sworn in recently: Officer Ashley Krotine, Officer Shahriyar (Shar) Hariri, and Officer Rajen Patel. 

Officers Ashley Krotine, Shahriyar (Shar) Harrir and Rajen Patel

Officer Krotine and Officer Patel are graduates of the Golden West Police Academy and Officer Hariri is a lateral officer from the San Diego School Police Department.

Officer Patel was a police officer in London, England before moving to the United States with his family. 

“We are very happy to have them as part of our team,” LBPD spokesperson Sgt. Jim Cota said.


Police Files

Here’s a shocker in Police Files – good news!

Remember our story last week about Reed Swingley, 54, of Sun City, who stole goods from individuals as well Mozambique Restaurant, Tortilla Republic and an architectural business downtown? Items that included personal jewelry, a safe, a large amount of cash, an antique saxophone and a bronze statue, found in his truck?

To recap, last Sunday, after a high-risk traffic stop, Swingley was arrested for burglary, possession of stolen property, possession of a controlled substance, as well as other theft related charges.

But (in addition to his arrest) here’s the good news: detectives were able to track down some of the people who had their valuables stolen.

Courtesy LBPD

Betty Jo Young is thrilled to have her jewelry back, courtesy LBPD

According to police reports, 89 year-old Betty Jo Young, whose belongings and jewelry were stolen from her hotel room in town while she was in the hospital recovering from a fall, was thrilled to know that her diamond wedding rings and a diamond heart pendant, given to her by her late husband Coleman Young, had been recovered.

Also, LBPD Sgt Cota tells us, a rare bronze art piece was returned to its owner, Horst Noppenberger, who owns Noppenberger owns Horst Architects in Laguna Beach.

An antique saxophone was also returned to its owner.

Photo courtesy LBPD

Detectives Mirakian and Ocampo celebrate the return of stolen goods

“This has been a great experience for our detectives and a tribute to LBPD teamwork,” Sgt Jim Cota said. “We are in the process of giving the stolen property back to the owners. We just gave a woman back her purses and we’re going to be giving a woman back her wedding ring. She is ecstatic!”

Sgt Cota added that the investigation of this case is still ongoing and, because of its complexity, will take time to complete.

You’re never too old to … steal?

Just because you get older, of course you still want to wear the kinds of clothes that’ll help you steal the show at a party – but most senior women prefer to buy rather than burgle when choosing an arresting outfit.

Not so for three “older” women (according to police reports, not me, I’m 61) who attempted to swipe clothes from Sunny Days and were arrested on the corner of Laguna Ave and S. Coast Highway. 

Diana Lynn Carnivalli, 51, of Nevada, with charges pending, and Linda Maria Webster, 46, Nevada, with a Ventura warrant bail $5000, were taken into custody.

Arrests were for petty theft, possession of stolen property, and burglary tools – small pliers used to cut the sensors off clothing.

Apparently a Chihuahua, pushed in a cart, was an unwitting accomplice. 

The third woman was released with no charges.


Police Files

Caught red-handed at Cleo: teamwork by cops leads to arrest of man who burgled local businesses

Reed Swingley, 54, of Sun City, thought he’d just, you know, swing by Laguna Beach last Sunday – but it turns out that it isn’t such a good idea for a suspected criminal to revisit the scene of a crime.

Especially with stolen goods inside his truck.

“During the first two weeks of July, we investigated three separate commercial burglaries and a residential burglary,” Sgt. Jim Cota, LBPD spokesperson, told Stu News Laguna. “The businesses included Mozambique Restaurant, Tortilla Republic and an architecture business downtown.”

Items stolen included a safe, a large amount of cash, an antique saxophone and a bronze statue.

According to Sgt. Cota, a review of surveillance video from one of the businesses, as well as the residence, identified a person of interest and a suspect vehicle. 

Then, on Sunday July 16 at approximately 5 p.m., LBPD officers learned that suspect vehicle was seen in the city. 

Patrol officers located the vehicle and initiated a high-risk traffic stop on Coast Highway and Cleo.

“This arrest was a true team effort by both Patrol Officers and Detectives. Patrol handled the high-risk stop and detectives took over the investigation. Truly a combined effort,” Sgt Cota notes.     

The vehicle driver, 54-year-old Reed Swingley of Sun City, was detained after officers saw what they believed to be some of the stolen property from these burglaries inside the truck. 

Swingley was arrested for burglary, possession of stolen property, possession of a controlled substance, as well as other theft related charges. He was booked at the Laguna Beach Jail and transported to Orange County Jail. 

Anyone with any information regarding this investigation should call the Laguna Beach Police Department at (949) 497-0701.

And the day before, our cops had a red-letter day at Ruby’s

Despite working countless overtime hours on a spate of criminal activity and high risk vehicle stops in Laguna Beach – stops often initiated by sharp-eyed cops noticing a stolen vehicle cruising through our town – 25 LBPD police officers took the time to raise an astonishing and wonderful record-breaking $46,000 to support the Special Olympics, working alongside 12 athletes from Laguna Hills Hawks to serve customers at Ruby’s Diner on a busy Saturday afternoon.

Jennifer Mills, who manages volunteer and special events for the Special Olympics, was quoted as saying that “law enforcement usually raises about $5,000.”

Laguna’s police officers earned nine times as much. 

Thursday chase ended with crash on Wave Street

Last Thursday, Newport Beach Police pursued a driver heading south along Coast Highway. At 5:28 p.m., Casey Adamczyk, 28, of Corona del Mar, who was wanted for assault with a deadly weapon, crashed into a power pole at Wave Street.

Click on photo for a larger image

Reader Scott Methvin submitted this photo of the dramatic crash

Laguna Beach PD officers responded and assisted with the investigation. Adamczyk was arrested by Newport Beach PD and taken back to their PD for booking.


Police Files

Former employee Christine Black embezzles $65,000 from Laguna Nursery

On March 17, 2016, Economic Crimes Detectives opened a fraud investigation into a former employee of Laguna Nursery, who was accused of embezzling money from the business. 

“The year-long investigation revealed that Christine Black, 47, issued checks to herself and reported the checks as payments for various vendors,” Sgt Cota, LBPD spokesperson. 

Black embezzled more than $65,000, Sgt Cota added. 

The investigation also revealed Black was on probation for a similar case in Rockingham County, North Carolina. In that case, she embezzled approximately $100,000. 

On July 5, Black pled guilty to 38 felony counts of forgery and identity theft in Harbor Court. She was sentenced to 16 months in jail, restitution, and is scheduled to be extradited to North Carolina at the conclusion of this case. 

“This case is yet another reminder that when you victimize small business owners and innocent people in our city, the Laguna Beach Police Department will investigate it thoroughly and bring in the resources necessary to work toward successful prosecution of the case,” said Sgt. Jim Cota, LBPD Investigations Division. 

The case was prosecuted by Senior Deputy District Attorney, Marc Labreche of the Major Fraud Unit. 

Looking for someone to talk to? Don’t call 911

On Tuesday, July 11, officers received a call from a man reporting a domestic violence incident. 

Unfortunately for him, there was no such incident.

“He made up the call to have officers respond so he could have ‘someone to talk to,’” explained Sgt. Jim Cota. “He was advised that this was misuse of 911.”

The man, Brennan Afrasiabi, 19, Laguna Beach, was arrested for misusing 911. But that wasn’t the end of it for him.

“During the booking process, he became aggressive and caused a disturbance in the jail,” said Cota. “He spat in the face of the jailer.”

Afrasiabi was subsequently charged with using violence to resist officers and was transported to Orange County Jail. 

 Snake too cool to move 

On Saturday, July 8, at 11:45 a.m., a man with a zipper cooler bag entered the library and went to the computers. 

Inside that cooler bag was a live rattlesnake.

Rattlesnake perp pic, courtesy the Internet. Not the actual perpetrator

“The man intended to sell it at the city library,” explained Sgt. Jim Cota. “He was also in possession of methamphetamine.”

The man, Robert Holsinger, 57, Santa Ana, was cited for possession of methamphetamine and possession of a feral/exotic animal. 


Police Files

Parolee on a rampage drives vehicle onto crowded Main Beach sidewalk

Israel Chavez resists arrest, attempts to shove officer into traffic, spits, is tased; police find an eight-year-old girl in the vehicle

Last Sunday evening at 7:21 p.m., LBPD received multiple reports of a possible DUI driver and a vehicle on Coast Highway swerving dangerously in and out of traffic, at one point almost hitting a bicyclist. 

“An officer observed the vehicle making an illegal left turn from northbound Coast Highway onto the 100 block of Laguna Ave,” Sgt Jim Cota, LBPD spokesperson told Stu News. 

“The driver then turned onto El Paseo, hit a parked car, and continued north. He drove onto the cobblestones at Main Beach, then over the grass area, across the sidewalk, which was crowded with pedestrians. It’s amazing that no one was injured.”

The driver, later identified as Israel Chavez, 39, of El Monte, headed south on Coast Highway. Police officers caught up with him near Third Ave on PCH and conducted a high-risk car stop. Officers learned that Chavez was on parole for carjacking,

“Chavez showed signs of alcohol intoxication. He exited the vehicle as requested by officers but then became increasingly uncooperative, attempting to shove the officers back into the traffic,” Sgt Cota says. “Officers were shocked to see that there was an eight-year-old girl seated in the right rear passenger seat.”

Chavez challenged officers to fight and spat at one of them, becoming increasingly combative.

“An officer deployed his Taser. After a struggle on the ground, with Chavez kicking and trying to twist away, officers were able to handcuff him but he continued to fight,” Sgt Cota said.

OC Sheriff’s deputies arrived on the scene to assist and Chavez was finally put in the back of a patrol car. A spit mask was used to prevent him spitting at the officers.

Chavez was taken to Mission Hospital Laguna Beach for a medical clearance. After being cleared, he was taken straight to Orange County Jail and booked on charges of violating his parole, fighting/resisting officers, and child endangerment.

The child was released to her mother and grandmother. 

Chavez, the LBPD has learned, is not the child’s biological father.


Police Files

Sometimes a suitcase is just a suitcase…

Sometimes a suitcase is a just a suitcase, but these days nothing is certain. On Monday, July 3 at 12:18 p.m., a concerned citizen reported seeing a suitcase locked to a stop sign at Temple Hills Drive & Alta Laguna Boulevard. 

“Due to the suspicious nature, the bomb squad was called,” said Sgt. Jim Cota, LBPD spokesperson. “They responded and determined the suitcase was not a dangerous device, but it was destroyed during their investigation.”

Officers are not sure how long the new looking suitcase had been there.

…but sometimes, a cell phone is actually a knife

On the evening of Sunday, July 2, officers responded to the 300 block of Y Place after a resident said his neighbor had threatened him with the 12” hunting knife he had in his hand.

“The suspect stated he did not have a knife, but only his cell phone in his hand,” said Sgt. Jim Cota of the LBPD. “A video recording proved otherwise.” The video showed the suspect making threats with the knife in his hand. 

Martin Edens, 53, Laguna Beach, was arrested for criminal threats and brandishing a knife. He was held with $50,000 bail. 

 

DUI saturation patrols will be on the streets this weekend between 5 p.m. & 3 a.m.

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

DUI Saturation Patrols will deploy Friday, July 7 & Sat, July 8, between the hours of 5 p.m. and 3 a.m. in areas with high frequencies of DUI collisions and/or arrests. 

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. 

If you are impaired by drugs or alcohol, hand over your keys or get a ride home

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. Law Enforcement emphasizes the preventable nature of drunk driving, reminding everyone that all it takes is a little planning ahead. 

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

Sunday sees a rash of crime in Laguna and plenty of arrests: LBPD warns residents to be vigilant

Early Sunday morning at 5:09 a.m., LBPD foiled a burglary and made two arrests for possession of stolen items, burglary tools and meth.

At 12:35 p.m. police officers took four people into custody, two of them charged with grand theft and conspiracy to commit a crime.

At 4:45 p.m., police officers pursued a man in a stolen car who tried to escape arrest by gunning his car toward police officers, who then fired two shots, which didn’t stop the car thief – but the man, identified as Richard Lewis, 54, was cornered not long after and captured near the high school. 

Details about all three incidents are contained below.

Car thief arrested in residents’ backyard after shots fired

“Police officers began a pursuit of a silver Toyota Corolla suspected to have been stolen in Palm Springs the previous day,” Sgt Jim Cota, LBPD spokesperson said. “The driver turned into the 100 block of Thalia, which dead-ends at the beach. Police officers attempted to block his exit route with their cruisers but the man did a sharp U-turn and aimed his car in their direction.

“A female had jumped out - we later determined she wanted no part of it. 

“One of the officers, as the car headed toward him, feared for his and his partner’s life and the safety of people on Coast Highway, so he fired two shots.”

Click on photo for a larger image

Photo by Mary Hurlbut 

Police cars line Thalia

The shots didn’t stop the car thief, later identified as Richard Lewis, 54, a parolee at large wanted on an outstanding no-bail warrant, who then drove toward Cuprien Way. 

A police helicopter circled above the area near the high school, warning people to stay in their homes and be on the lookout for a man in his fifties with a moustache, wearing a plaid shirt.

“The suspect abandoned the vehicle on the 600 block of Cuprien and was cornered in a backyard on Glomstad Lane after jumping fences,” Cota said.

Cota says once in custody, the man complained that his leg hurt, “Not surprising after jumping all those fences,” Cota commented.

Resident Kay Metis said, “We were in the epicenter of helicopter circle with the suspect ultimately apprehended 100 yards from our home. We had ordered a pizza from Gina’s Pizza and they called us back to tell us there was an “active shooting” and they couldn’t get to our home.”

Metis added, “It was a harrowing time for a bit but Laguna Beach pulls together in these rare moments which ultimately results in a feeling of safety.”

(And Gina’s Pizza delivered as soon as the commotion died down, Metis adds…)

Sgt Cota noted, “LBPD will be handling the investigation as the DA’s office won’t get involved because there were no injuries. The OC Sheriff and Newport Beach PD helped out, in a great example of community collaboration.”

Getaway car doesn’t get suspects away

Earlier, at 12:35 p.m., officers responded to citizens’ calls about a theft from Robin’s Jean at 264 Forest Ave. The suspects had grabbed several pairs of jeans and other items and were running toward the US Bank parking lot. 

LBPD booking photos

A waiting car, a white BMW, picked them up and headed south on Glenneyre. Officers located the vehicle after a short pursuit when the BMW turned on Cress. A high-risk vehicle stop ensued. 

Four people were detained. Joshua Hoover, 20, of Inglewood and Jodan Hongocollins, 18, of Los Angeles were charged with grand theft and conspiracy to commit a crime; Maasai Lopez, 21, on a count of petty theft; and charges are pending for Laneice Barnes, who had a stolen ID in her possession. 

U-Haul contains oddly-dressed thieves and their haul

Earlier on Sunday at 5:09 a.m. a resident called to report a white U-Haul with back doors wide open on the 400 block of Panorama Drive.  

“Something seemed suspicious about the vehicle and the RP was correct, there was something not right at all,” Sgt Jim Cota said “Thank goodness for alert residents.”

Inside the vehicle, LBPD patrol officers found a man, 33, and a woman, 23, both dressed oddly - he wore a firefighter’s outfit and she was dressed in some kind of emergency worker’s gear. 

Officers found meth and a meth pipe inside the vehicle, along with burglary tools - and plenty of stolen goods, including clothing and firefighting gear that had been stolen from an out-of-town firefighter staying at a local hotel.

LA resident Travis Alexander, 33, and Buena Park resident Robin Griffin, 23, were arrested for possession of stolen items, burglary tools and meth; in addition, Griffin was charged with possession of a stolen vehicle, a felony.

Detectives are combing through the property to identify which items have been reported stolen.

“We stopped a residential burglary about to take place,” Sgt Cota tells Stu News. “I can’t say enough about the patrol officers who did a great job and the residents who were doing exactly what we ask everyone to do - if you see something, say something. They deserve huge credit. That’s pretty awesome to be willing to get up and do something at that time of the morning.”

How Laguna residents can help

Sgt. Cota adds:

“The citizens of Laguna Beach need to be vigilant. We have terrific residents and the more they help the better off we all are. The Laguna Beach Police Department needs your support and backing as we take on people who come into the city to commit crimes,” he said on Monday as he detailed the crimes for Stu News Laguna. 

“We are prepared for any event or incident that they may bring. Laguna Beach and surrounding cities have changed over the years and that’s not the fault of Laguna or the citizens, it’s that society has changed and criminals head to specific cities for opportunities. 

“The Laguna Beach Police Department is committed 100 percent to its citizens and the people who come to this city on vacation or to just spend the day.”          

--Lynette Brasfield


Police Files

Man eats meth – or tries to

On Tuesday at 9:30 a.m., a concerned caller reported fears that an angry man might attempt to vandalize her vehicle. The man had threatened the RP that “he’d tear the whole place up if she called the police,” according to the police log.

Officers arrived at the 300 block of Broadway Street and detained Ralph Francis Bowers III, 47, Huntington Beach, who “attempted to swallow a baggie of methamphetamine in front of them,” said Sgt. Jim Cota.

Unfortunately for Bowers, the arresting officer was a former narcotics detective and identified the drugs.

Bowers was ultimately arrested for possession of a controlled substance, resisting officers, and parole violation.

Even death certificate is stolen in document burglary

On Monday afternoon, a resident in the 1200 block of Brangwyn Way came home to discover someone had been in his home and had gone through personal items. 

Amongst the missing items were a $1,000 camera lens, various CDs, a jar of change, an antique camera, prescription sleeping pills, and a filing container with auto insurance documents, birth certificates, vaccine records, and more.

A neighbor reported seeing a woman on the property in search of the victim, but it is not clear if this is related. 

Remember, if you see something, say something – you could prevent a crime.


Police Files

Stalker sneaks into Laguna home, wakes resident, is arrested

Laguna Beach Police Officers responded to a residence after one of the occupants awoke to find a man in her room. He was identified as 28-year-old Gregory Murray of Laguna Beach, someone that the occupant’s sister, who lives in the same home, dated for just a few few months back in 2015. 

Since that time, Murray reportedly sent more than 150 harassing emails to the woman he’d dated, as well as threatening text messages and messages over social media to the victim and members of her family, as recently as March 2017.    

When LBPD officers interviewed Murray on June 23 at his home, he confessed to stalking. He was arrested without incident for stalking, criminal threats and burglary. He was booked into Orange County Jail where he is being held on $50,000 bail.  

“The Laguna Beach Police Department encourages victims of domestic violence to report incidents to local law enforcement,” said LBPD spokesperson Sgt Jim Cota. “Call the Laguna Beach Police Department or The National Domestic Violence Hotline at 1-800-799-SAFE (7233).”


Police Files

ID theft suspect is ID’d, still being sought

Detective Jordan Mirakian, financial crimes, who was a key part of the investigative team leading to federal charges being brought against Laguna embezzler Elizabeth Mulder, is currently working on another case of identity theft/check fraud that occurred at the Bank of America in Laguna Beach. (Mulder will be sentenced October 16 and is facing 23 years in prison.)

“Seems things are getting quite interesting,” according to Detective Sergeant Jim Cota, who says that tips from the public have been a great help. 

Det Mirakian says he’s ID’d the suspect, but added, “I don’t know if she knows that yet. She has an open case from the Sheriff’s Department, similar circumstances, so I am working with the District Attorney and the Sheriff’s Department to prosecute that case with our case. She seems to be living out of motels so finding her may be a bit tricky, but we will eventually find her.”

 

Do you know this man?

LBPD needs residents’ help in identifying the man in this photo. Call them at 949-497-0370 if you recognize him. 

“He was captured on video surveillance stealing two, 2016 Commencal Meta Trail Ride 650B mountain bikes from the Aliso Creek Golf Course back in mid-May,” Cota said. “The bikes are orange and black and are estimated to have a value of $2,200 per bike.”  LBPD are hoping that this photo will help them nab the thief.


Man says he doesn’t feel well, likely feels worse after cops arrive

Braden Bolton, 38, walked into Brussels Bistro on Forest Ave on June 18 complaining that he was not feeling well. 

He no doubt felt even worse a little while later after making threatening gestures and statements and finding himself under arrest for being drunk in public and resisting arrest. Bail was set at $20,000.

 

How to avoid becoming a victim of identity theft

To prevent identity theft happening to you, Det Mirakian offers these five key tips:

Don’t respond to unsolicited requests for personal information (your name, birthdate, social security number, or bank account number) by phone, mail, or online. 

Collect mail promptly. Ask the post office to put your mail on hold when you are away from home for several days. 

Review your receipts. Promptly compare receipts with account statements.

Watch for unauthorized transactions.

Shred receipts, credit offers, account statements, and expired cards, to prevent “dumpster divers” from getting your personal information.

Store personal information in a safe place at home and at work.

“I’d say the most important tip I have is shredding documents and regularly checking your mail for credit offers,” Mirakian says. “We have seen an uptick in mail theft and identity thieves have been known to dig through trash to find important ID information.  

“Identities are sold person to person for a value nowadays, so it’s incredibly important to avoid leaving personal information on paperwork or other applications without shredding it first.”


Police Files

IRS scammers are at it again

Be wary of phone calls from individuals who claim to be from the IRS. A recent Laguna Beach victim provided $2,600 worth of Walmart gift cards to callers who said they were from the IRS.

Often, these phone calls are accompanied by threats of imprisonment. 

According to the IRS website, the IRS “does not threaten taxpayers with lawsuit, imprisonment or other enforcement action.” In addition, the IRS will not ask for gift cards or other prepaid cards.

If you are in doubt about the legitimacy of a phone call, hang up and find and call the agency’s official phone number. Or, contact a tax professional. 

 

Man mugged off Coast Hwy

At 5:15 on Saturday morning, an Uber driver picked up a fare in the 31100 block of Coast Hwy and took the man to Mission Hospital. 

The driver reported that his rider had been beaten up by another man. His wallet with $140 in cash, a driver’s license and a debit card was stolen. 

No suspect information was available.


Police Files

Robbery arrest made at Husky Boy Burgers

At 3 p.m. on Wednesday, June 14, officers received a call that a robbery had just occurred at the Mobil gas station in the 100 block of N. Coast Hwy. 

“Four suspects entered the gas station and took beverages from the store,” said Sgt. James Cota, LBPD spokesperson. “When they were confronted by the sales clerk, one of the four struck him in the face and took his cell phone. They fled in a Chevy Camaro.” The crime was captured on surveillance video.

An immediate area search was conducted and the suspect vehicle was located at the Husky Boy Burgers parking lot. Inside the vehicle were four juveniles and one adult, all from San Bernardino County. The four juveniles were taken into custody; one of them (the main aggressor) was charged with Robbery, Theft, and Assault.

According to Emergency Operations Coordinator of the LBPD, Jordan Villwock, at no time did the police department believe the community was at risk. 

Detectives identify individuals responsible for rash of vehicle burglaries

On June 3, LBPD Officers responded to multiple vehicle burglary reports throughout North Laguna Beach. LBPD Detectives were called in to assist with the investigation. During their follow-up two suspects were identified in the case, Rachel Alvarez and Johnny Cervantez.

LBPD booking photos

Rachel Alvarez and Johnny Cervantez

On June 8, LBPD Detectives went to the City of Redlands and interviewed Alvarez, and she confessed to her involvement in the burglaries and relinquished the stolen property in her possession. The stolen property included a laptop that belonged to a schoolteacher, which contained the only copy of her student’s grades.  

Alvarez and Cervantez were booked for possession of stolen property, drug, and theft related charges. Alvarez has already plead guilty and was sentenced to 30 days in jail, three years of probation, and was ordered to pay restitution. 

This investigation is ongoing, and LBPD Detectives are still pursuing additional suspects in this case. 

“In almost all of these cases, the victims left their vehicles unlocked. Crooks enjoy the path of least resistance, and it is much easier to target victims who do not protect their property. The best way to prevent crimes of opportunity is to secure your belongings and hide valuables from the public view,” said Captain Jeff Calvert.

Anyone with information related to this case is encouraged to contact Sergeant Jim Cota at (949) 464-6671 or This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.. To submit tips anonymously, please contact Crime Stoppers at 855-TIP-OCCS or 855-847-6227. You can also reach Crime Stoppers online at www.crimestoppers.org.


Police Files

Serial car thief caught: more individuals under investigation

Laguna Beach Police officers located and arrested one of a group of individuals who have been committing thefts from vehicles in the city.

22-year-old Johnny Cervantez from San Bernardino was arrested on Saturday for receipt of stolen property, conspiracy to commit a crime, possession of a controlled substance, and possession of drug paraphernalia. 

Officers are still investigating the thefts. Stu News Laguna will provide more information once it is available. 

Dog gets involved in arrest: is rescued by LBPD

An interesting side-note from the LBPD’s Facebook page related to the San Bernardino search: While serving a search warrant, detectives came across an eight-week-old German Shepherd, who had obvious injuries to its legs and paws and was not being properly cared for. 

The owners of the dog said they didn’t want him and also said they had been trying to get rid of him, but because of his injuries no one would take him. Working with a local rescue, detectives arranged to have the dog surrendered for adoption. 

From LBPD Facebook page

German Shepherd puppy is rescued thanks to LBPD detectives

Detectives did this while recovering stolen property from the house and identifying additional suspects in the case. The LBPD says they are happy to report that the owners voluntarily turned over the dog to rescuers and he is now healthy and preparing to be adopted, thanks to the excellent work of Sgt. Cota, Cpl Sendele, Ashton, Gensemer and Officers Mirakian and Ocampo. 

 

$5 million+ of software, camera equipment taken from a truck

Overnight on Thursday, a truck parked in the 400 block of Jasmine Street was entered. The owner discovered the door cracked open, but no damage to the car.

Missing was $15,000 in cash as well as approximately $5 million in computer software.

“The investigations division is looking into the incident to identify any suspects,” said Sgt. James Cota, LBPD spokesperson.


Police Files

Laguna Beach resident charged with defrauding Orange County businesses of more than $1.5 million

On January 26, 2016, LBPD Economic Crimes Detectives began a fraud investigation against Elizabeth Mulder, a resident of Laguna Beach, after a local business owner identified Mulder as his accountant and alleged that Mulder embezzled $200,000 from his wine business, JAC Wines.

The investigation revealed that between July 2009 and May 2016, Mulder devised and executed a scheme to defraud and obtain money from small businesses by gaining the trust of their owners, some of whom allowed her to gain control over their financial accounts. In total, Mulder embezzled over $1.5 million from her victims, according to documents filed in federal court.

When sentenced, Mulder faces up to 23 years in prison.

A victim talks about her experience with the embezzler

Among her victims was JoAnn Kurtz-Ahlers, president of Kurtz-Ahlers & Associates, an upscale travel agency based in San Juan Capistrano. 

Kurtz-Ahlers tells StuNewsLaguna that she thought everything was going smoothly during the five years, 2011 – 2016, that Elizabeth Mulder acted as her accountant, primarily handling income tax issues for Kurtz-Ahlers’ upscale travel agency.

Then Kurtz-Ahlers found out that all the money she thought she’d paid to the IRS had disappeared into Mulder’s pocket. 

“I was in shock. I’d known Elizabeth Mulder’s mother, Alice Whynaught, for years, which made me feel quite comfortable hiring her daughter,” Kurtz-Ahlers said. “To be honest, I admired Elizabeth, I thought she was a terrific entrepreneur, very successful – meanwhile she was a skillful manipulator. She took advantage of her mother’s connections to get clients and then embezzle from them.”

Along with the shock of realizing her funds had been embezzled, Kurtz-Ahlers still has to deal with IRS. They expect Kurtz-Ahlers to pay what she owed for those five years – plus penalties and fines – and it is taking a great deal of negotiation to come to a settlement with the IRS.  

Skillful, yes, but in deception, not finance

“Elizabeth came across as someone who was sincere and really wanted to help you. Plus she had so many clients, I thought she must be good at what she did. That’s what everyone thought.”

But Mulder was in the process of embezzling what would turn out to be 1.5 million dollars from clients who trusted her. She was good at what she did – except her skill was in theft.

“Police detective Jordan Mirakian of the Laguna Beach Police Department was amazing,” Kurtz-Ahlers says. “We all went to him in a group and he was diligent about taking the information about every case. She was quite inventive in the different ways she took advantage of her clients.”

Search warrants executed by LBPD Detectives at the Mulder residence and her bank accounts revealed additional victim businesses throughout Orange County. These companies included Toni & Guy Hair Salon (Newport Beach), Kurtz-Ahlers LLC (San Juan Capistrano), Bella Pilates (San Clemente), Andra Builders, Inc. (Costa Mesa), and California Print 2 Copy (Irvine).

Mulder deceived clients into making checks payable to a phony business she created called “Income Tax Payments,” under the guise that those payments would satisfy the clients’ outstanding IRS tax obligations. She also created false personas as representatives and/or investors of companies to lead her clients to believe various expenses were being paid for the benefit of the business.

LBPD “brought in every available resource”

“This investigation serves as a reminder that our police department will pursue individuals in positions of trust who take advantage of innocent victims. We brought in every available resource, including our partners from the Federal Government, to ensure that this case would be appropriately prosecuted and justice would be served,” said Captain Jeff Calvert, LBPD.

Mulder used the money embezzled from the victims for a variety of personal expenses including a rental home in Laguna Beach, cosmetic surgery, personal vacations, living expenses, horse rentals and the purchase of horse equipment.

This case was investigated by the Laguna Beach Police Department Investigations Division, with assistance from the Federal Bureau of Investigation, the IRS Criminal Investigation, and the United States Attorney.

For further information, please contact Sergeant Jim Cota at (949) 464-6671 or This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

 

Two helicopter rescues in two days

The Fire Department has been busy this week. On Wednesday, June 8, at 2:57 p.m., the Department received a call from the 600 block of Diamond Street. A construction worker had fallen from a construction site. 

 

Click on photo for a larger image

Photo courtesy of LB Fire Department

Helicopter rescue in progress

The lack of stairs made it impossible to reach him other than by helicopter, and moving the patient was critical due to the extent of his injuries. 

Click on photo for a larger image

Photo courtesy of LB Fire Department

Patient is safely en route to the hospital thanks to our firefighters and the OCFA

The Fire Department, working with the OC Fire Authority, was able to hover and then drop someone down to rescue the patient and deliver him to Mission Hospital.

Golfers hear call for help

Then on Thursday morning at 9 a.m., golfers at The Ranch at Laguna Beach reported hearing calls for help from a steep hillside.  Access to the person was impossible by foot and the patient was unable to move due to a foot injury.  

Working again with the OCFA, Laguna Beach Fire Department deployed a “short haul” approach to airlift him to the hospital in Mission Viejo.

 

Stolen vehicle leads to chase, spike strips deployed

Laguna Beach Police were alerted to a stolen vehicle located at Forest Avenue and Laguna Canyon Road. The driver, Juan Gutierrez, chose to flee in the vehicle through the downtown area without stopping. 

The vehicle ultimately headed north to Newport Beach. With the assistance of Newport Beach PD, the vehicle was disabled utilizing Spike Strips. 

Three occupants were detained and two were arrested. They were Gutierrez and Arriaga. Gutierrez was also in possession of approximately one gram of methamphetamine.


Police Files

The lure of lingerie leads to arrest

From an LBPD press release

On May 2, LBPD Officers responded to a burglary investigation at Delicate Illusions, located at 1857 South Coast Highway.  Delicate Illusions is a romantic boutique. The store owner and victim reported over $1400.00 worth of merchandise and cash had been taken during the burglary, which occurred while the business was closed.

During the initial investigation, LBPD Officers reviewed surveillance video from inside the store and recognized 53-year old Reese Westenberger as the perpetrator.  A crime bulletin was distributed throughout the police department listing Westenberger as a suspect in the case.  

On May 31, a bicycle patrol officer recognized Westenberger standing outside of 20652 Laguna Canyon Road. Westenberger attempted to flee the area on foot, and after a short chase, he surrendered.  Westenberger was taken into custody and charged with burglary, grand theft, and vandalism.  

Is thief no longer under any illusions?

When interviewed by Detectives, Westenberger denied involvement.  Westenberger was booked into Orange County Jail and held on $25,000 bail.

Anyone with any information regarding this investigation or other similar incidents is encouraged to call the Laguna Beach Police Department at (949) 497-0701.  For further information, please contact Sergeant Jim Cota at (949) 464-6671 or This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..  

To submit tips anonymously, please contact Crime Stoppers at 855-TIP-OCCS or 855-847-6227. You can also reach Crime Stoppers online at www.crimestoppers.org.

Rash of vehicle burglaries Saturday night

Throughout the day on Saturday, at least seven victims reported that their cars had been entered overnight and items stolen. 

Amongst the stolen property were sunglasses, wallets, paperwork, a computer, and a purse with cash inside. Some of the vehicles had been locked and others were forced open.

“Detectives are currently looking at all leads,” said Sgt. James Cota, LBPD spokesperson. “Progress is being made on locating a suspect.”

Remember, if you see something, say something.

Renters on the rampage

In two unrelated incidents this week, occupants of rented residences are suspected of burgling multiple items from the homes in which they were staying. 

A vacation home in the 31800 block of Circle Drive had TVs, carpet, electronics and computers missing, to the tune of $20,000. The incident occurred in the last two weeks.

In the 21700 block of Ocean Vista Drive, a refrigerator, washer/dryer, dishwasher, and microwave were removed.

Though the incidents are not related, neighbors are once again encouraged that if you see something, say something.


Police Files

“Smashed window” car thief grabs goods worth $5,000

On Monday afternoon, a burglar smashed the windows of a Mercedes parked in the 200 block of High Drive – different from the usual MO of stealing items from unlocked cars. A suitcase with $5,000 worth of clothing was stolen from the car, which belonged to the visiting friend of a resident.

“We have had quite a few thefts from unlocked vehicles,” said Sgt. James Cota, LBPD spokesperson. “It’s an easy crime of opportunity.”

“With summer approaching and many visitors coming to town, citizens have to lock their vehicles and their residences,” Cota urged.

But he reminded people that even locked cars can be subject to crime, and that it is important to be aware of suspicious behavior. 

“Remember, if you see something, say something,” Cota added.

Woman gives TV the brush-off, goes to jail

Officers were called to the ASL on Monday morning to remove a woman who was not allowed to be on the property.

When they got there, she had done more than trespass.

According to the police log, 10 witnesses confirmed that Sarah Beach, no fixed address, had used a broom to break the flat screen TV that belongs to the shelter.

Beach was arrested for trespassing and felony vandalism. Bail was set at $20,000.


Police Files

Identity stolen, car rented, then car stolen

Last week, a victim of identity theft reported that fraudulent accounts had been opened in his name and used to rent a vehicle, which had not been returned. 

On Thursday at 8:11 a.m., officers were alerted to a stolen vehicle inbound on Laguna Canyon Road – the same vehicle that had been rented in the victim’s name.

Officers stopped the vehicle and detained the two occupants. The driver, John Elton Aguirre, 42, Santa Ana, was arrested for vehicle theft as well as various fraud related charges.

The case is being investigated by LBPD Detectives.


Police Files

Paddleboarder saves friend’s life at Moss Street Beach

On Sunday at 10:17 a.m. at Moss Street Beach, Laguna Beach police received numerous 911 calls about a man yelling for help in the ocean. Due to the fog that morning, none of the callers could see the man.

“Two friends were paddle boarding when one of them went down for an unknown reason,” said Sgt. James Cota of the LBPD. 

The man brought the woman to shore and provided CPR. According to the police log, the woman was in full cardiac arrest, but began breathing at 10:35 a.m.

Mercy Air was called to transport the woman to the hospital. According to a GoFundMe page set up for her, she suffered a seizure due to a brain tumor. She is currently under sedation in the ICU.


Police Files

Drone drives resident to distraction – and worse

Drones are a contentious topic, and on Friday, one resident in the 1300 block of Skyline Drive decided to take matters into his own hands – literally.

“After a thorough investigation, officers found a resident had taken a drone that belonged to a professional videographer, who was filming for real estate purposes,” said LBPD spokesperson Sgt. James Cota. “The citizen refused to give it back to the owner.”

According to the police log, the man also punched the videographer, who declined medical attention. 

Eventually, officers were able to get the man to come out of the house with the now-damaged drone.

Joshua Radwan, 36, Laguna Beach, was arrested for robbery and transported to Orange County Jail.

Cliff Drive burglary foiled

On Saturday evening, a neighbor reported a woman sitting on a doorstep and pounding on the door of a residence in the 1000 block of Cliff Drive. 

Officers arrived at the scene and detained the woman and her companion.

According to Sgt. James Cota of the LBPD, “They were in the process of stealing items from the residence.”

Marcela Encarnacion, 45, Long Beach, and Arnoldo Chavez, 49, Norwalk, were both arrested for residential burglary. Additionally, Chavez was arrested on an outstanding warrant from Merced County for vandalism, resisting, and battery.

Man spits at officers during arrest

Officers responded on Friday night to Main Beach following a report of assault. After making contact with the two men involved, it was determined that Daniel Del Rosario, 24, no fixed address, was the aggressor.

“While officers attempted to arrest Del Rosario, he spat at an officer but missed,” said Sgt. James Cota, LBPD spokesperson. “Aside from being charged with assault, additional charges were added for assault on a police officer.”

Del Rosario was taken to Orange County Jail and held with $20,000 bail.


Police Files

Bicyclist vs vehicle results in broken collarbone

A bicyclist was treated for a broken collarbone on Monday morning after being hit by a vehicle at Coast Highway and Broadway.

“The vehicle and bicyclist were heading northbound on Coast Highway when the vehicle turned in front of the bicyclist to make a right turn onto Broadway,” explained Sgt. Jim Cota, LBPD spokesperson.

A witness called 911 and tended to the bicyclist until emergency personnel arrived. 

Nails used in possible attempt to poison a tree

A resident in the 1000 block of Cortez realized on Tuesday that a series of nails had been hammered into the base of a tree on her property, possibly in an attempt by an unknown suspect to poison it.

According to the police log, the RP stated that she did not know of any possible motive, especially because the only view the tree blocks is her own. 

Mountain bikes stolen from business

On Monday afternoon, a business in the 31100 block of Coast Highway reported that two black and orange mountain bikes were stolen.

The suspect, who was caught on video, was described as a white man in his late 40s or early 50s with blonde hair wearing a green and blue striped collared shirt. 

The total loss was estimated to be $10,000.


Police Files

Woman, 18, charged with felony DUI after boy, 17, falls out of her moving car in NoLag, is seriously injured

A witness called 9-1-1 after seeing a person’s “…head hit the sidewalk…” according to the police log. The call was received from Myrtle St and Cypress Dr at 5:04 p.m. last Wednesday.

The driver of a 2013 black Audi A4, an 18-year-old Laguna Beach woman, was driving the intoxicated boy home according to LBPD Sgt. James Cota. “He asked the driver to stop. When the car stopped, the intoxicated juvenile exited and then collapsed while the car was still moving according to a witness.”

Kiani Leigh Harriman, 18, Laguna Beach, was arrested for possession of meds without a prescription and felony DUI with $100,000 bail.

Felony DUI under the vehicle code is defined: It is unlawful for a person, while under the influence of any drug, to drive a vehicle and concurrently do any act forbidden by law, or neglect any duty imposed by law in driving the vehicle, which act or neglect proximately causes bodily injury to any person other than the driver.

Sgt. Cota said the boy was transported to Mission Trauma Center. “His current medical status is unknown.”

Police have identified a serial package theft suspect

LBPD Sgt. James Cota replied to our inquiry of the arrest of a Lake Elsinore man last Saturday with the following:“Over the last year, numerous incidents of package theft and possible burglaries have occurred in Laguna Beach and throughout Orange County. Our detectives have been working together with other police agencies in including the Orange County Probation Department to locate the individual. 

“We were able to identify the suspect and the vehicle he drove when committing these crimes. The Orange County Probation Department just recently issued a warrant for his arrest for failing to comply with his probation terms.” 

The police log has an incident report from Saturday at 6:24 about the arrest of Anthony Brian Palusso, 32. Sgt. Cota said Palusso was identified suspect and was held without bail on the probation charges. 

Cota added, “The Laguna Beach Police Department currently has open cases of mail/package theft that are linked to him.”

Parolee arrested for trespassing thanks to alert neighbors

Police received a call from concerned and alert neighbors about a suspicious man in the 100 block Crescent Bay Dr at 9:42 a.m. Saturday.

Sgt. James Cota said, “The caller said a male walking towards the park kept looking back. Another female stopped the RP stating that the male subject had ducked into the yard. Officers searched and made a positive match and took the suspect into custody at 10:16 a.m.

Ralph Francis Bowers III, 46, Huntington Beach was arrested for trespassing and held for parole hold without bail.

He was on parole for a burglary conviction.


Police Files

Two times is a charm – off to jail twice in four days

Richard Alan Hendrickson, 67, was arrested twice in a four day stretch in the 600 block of Bolsana Drive – both times for violating the same restraining order (RO). 

On Monday at 6:52 p.m., police were called by a woman living there who said the suspect was parked in her driveway. She had driven by and was parked down the street, police said.

LBPD Sgt. Jim Cota told us, “She had called him, told him to leave, he refused and claimed the RO is not valid.”

His bail for the arrest on the valid restraining order was $15,000, the same amount that had been set on May 4 when he was also arrested. That evening, he knocked on the door of the home.

LBPD assisted CHP and Sheriff with felony car stop downtown

Click on photo for a larger image

Photo by Jeff Fernandez - Facebook

Laguna officers assisted CHP and OC Sheriff’s units at a felony car stop on Broadway at Coast Hwy Wednesday morning. The suspect above had led the agencies on a high- speed chase in South County. Details were not available at press time.

Woman arrested for stealing candy worth $3 from man

Police officers responded to the 300 block of Ocean Avenue late Tuesday morning after callers reported that a woman was out of control and had been yelling and screaming at people.

On scene, a man complained that Irene Marchell Garcia, 50, no fixed address, had grabbed candy worth $3 from him and then ran off.

Police located her and took her into custody for petty theft with bail of $500.


Police Files

Third time DUI offender battles cops and gets tased 

A 9-1-1 caller alerted Laguna police about a Honda Accord headed into town on Laguna Canyon Road shortly before 7 o’clock last Thursday evening. A patrol unit saw the Honda parking in a Broadway retailer’s parking lot.

Zackary Andrew Gillenwater, 22, La Mirada, allegedly threw trash from the car before getting out. 

LBPD Sgt. Jim Cota said Monday, “As the officer contacted him, the driver refused to stop and stated he would not comply. The officer attempted to get him to comply repeatedly but Gillenwater refused to cooperate. The officer reached out and grabbed him to detain him. 

“Gillenwater resisted the officer’s efforts and pulled away. He was tased and then handcuffed. Even after being handcuffed, Gillenwater threatened officers and medical personnel.  

“Gillenwater was arrested for DUI (third offense), and felony resisting arrest. He also had an outstanding North Court warrant for his arrest and his driver’s license was suspended. Gillenwater was booked and transported to OCJ with $20,000 bail.”


Police Files

Detectives solve multiple vehicle burglaries at Laguna Coast Wilderness Park lots with arrest this week

Stu News Laguna learned last night that LBPD detectives used exhaustive reviews of evidence to solve multiple vehicle burglaries over the past two months in the parking lots of Laguna Coast Wilderness Park on Laguna Canyon Road.

Michael Krier, 40, Anaheim, was arrested late Tuesday and charged in some of the cases, police said. The investigation is ongoing.

In several cases, the suspect smashed windows and grabbed valuables that had been left in plain sight during daylight hours.

A review of digital evidence from the area led detectives to Krier, who, we have learned, confessed when interviewed.

Speeding Toyota chased on Coast Hwy at 100mph until crashing

A black Toyota Camry whizzed past an officer traveling at a high rate of speed headed northbound on Coast Highway from West Street just before midnight Tuesday. The driver, later identified as Eric Balderas, continued northbound hitting speeds in excess of 100 mph between Thalia and Legion Streets. 

Balderas, 25 of Rancho Santa Margarita, crashed his Camry in the 200 block of S. Coast Highway. He was charged with felony evading and DUI with two priors. Police took him directly to Orange County Jail for booking. 


Police Files

Copter used to rescue “heavily intoxicated” teenager

Click on photo for a larger image

An OC Sheriff’s helicopter was needed to rescue a 17-year-old Rancho Santa Margarita boy below the 31500 block of Bluff Drive above Table Rock Beach in South Laguna Saturday afternoon. The boy was unconscious. Sgt. Jim Cota of the LBPD said he was “heavily intoxicated…[and]… transported from the beach to Mission Hospital in Mission Viejo for advanced medical treatment. The juvenile has since regained consciousness.” Thanks to John Thomas for the photo.  

Laguna cops chase car stolen in SoLag to Santa Ana with speeds hitting 100. Suspect arrested there

A resident on Virginia Way in South Laguna heard his 2016 Hyundai Genesis start up at 2:29 a.m. Saturday…the keys were in the car.

A LBPD patrol unit spotted the car outbound on Laguna Canyon Road and the chase was on with speeds hitting 100 mph on the 405 Freeway. The suspect exited at Dyer Road into Santa Ana where Santa Ana PD units joined the pursuit.

The suspect bailed on foot in an apartment complex according to Sgt. Jim Cota of the LBPD. “He hopped a fence into a backyard and broke into a garage. The suspect was taken into custody at 2:53 a.m. and charged with auto theft and felony evading.”

He was identified as Felix Ezequiel, Jr., 26, of Santa Ana.

Intoxicated couple fought with cops on the sidewalk

Brian Flick, 27, Laguna Hills and Santa Figueroa, 50, Anaheim, were arrested after they fought with officers in the 1100 block of S. Coast Hwy at 2 a.m. Saturday.

Sgt. Jim Cota of the LBPD said, “Officers contacted a male subject exiting the Sandpiper Bar who was visibly intoxicated. He was identified as Laguna Hills resident, Brian Flick. As officers attempted to arrest Flick, he resisted their efforts and a struggle ensued. A charge of felony resisting was added due to the fact that Flick fought with officers preventing them from conducting their duties. An officer was injured in the altercation. Flick was arrested for public intoxication, battery to a police officer, and resisting arrest. He was taken directly to Orange County Jail. 

“A female, Santa Figueroa of Santa Ana, was also arrested for public intoxication and interfering/resisting arrest.”


Police Files

Teenagers learned a lesson at Thousand Steps Beach

Three teens were enjoying a nice Sunday morning at Thousand Steps when they decided to go into the water. They left their “don’t get it wet” items on the sand and jumped into the ocean.

Naturally, their three iPhones and wallets containing credit cards and cash were gone. A witness said a male and a female went through their property and left with the wallets and phones. 

Police did an area search but were unable to locate the suspects,

Working together to stop distracted driving

April is recognized as National Distracted Driving Awareness Month. In California, the Office of Traffic Safety (OTS), Laguna Beach Police Department, CHP, local law enforcement, and community partners throughout the state are working together to make the roads safer by highlighting the dangers of being distracted while driving, especially by cell phones. 

“Law enforcement would rather see everyone off their cell phones than hand out a lot of tickets,” said Rhonda Craft, director of the Office of Traffic Safety. “Take care of calling, texting, setting your GPS and everything else before you hit the street.” 

Assembly Bill 1785 went into effect on Jan 1, requiring all drivers in California to keep their cell phone out of their hands while operating a motor vehicle. Under the new law, a driver may activate or deactivate a feature or function of the cell phone or wireless communication device by swiping or tapping its screen only if it is properly mounted. Specific information on the new law can be found at www.ots.ca.gov

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) reports that 3,477 people were killed and an estimated 391,000 injured in motor vehicle collisions involving distracted drivers in 2015. That is a 9 percent increase in fatalities as compared to the previous year. 

Officers from the Laguna Beach Police Department will join other law enforcement agencies throughout the state to provide educational experiences as well as zero tolerance enforcement efforts to discourage distracted driving. 

This campaign is funded by a grant from the California Office of Traffic Safety, through the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.

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

Driver of stolen Honda evaded cops Sunday afternoon

Neighborhoods near S. Coast Hwy and St. Ann’s Drive were abuzz late Sunday afternoon by police officers and a circling helicopter. Police issued alerts to the area informing residents that the search was on for a suspected driver of a stolen 1998 black Honda CRV. Officers had stopped the SUV at 4:53 p.m. on St. Ann’s.

Sgt. Jim Cota of the LBPD explained Monday: “The driver exited the vehicle and fled on foot west to the beach. The officer pursued the suspect on the sand for approximately 100 yards. The suspect then accessed a set of private stairs and ran east towards Gaviota Dr. A perimeter was established containing the 700 Block of Gaviota. A helicopter from Anaheim PD and a canine unit from Newport Beach PD responded for assistance.” 

Photo by Louis Weil

Beach access stairway to Gaviota used by the suspect to escape police

Cota added, “Several announcements were made from the helicopter and the PA system of the police vehicle before a search was initiated. The suspect was not located. The outstanding suspect was described as a bald male white with black pants and a gray shirt. The vehicle was recovered and processed for evidence at the scene.” 

15-year-old Huntington Beach girl was very fortunate

A 15-year-old girl from Huntington Beach was hit in the southbound lane of Coast Hwy at Camel Point Dr at 20 minutes before 10 Saturday night. 

Sgt. Cota said Monday, “Police and fire personnel responded to Coast Highway and Camel Point Drive for a reported vehicle versus pedestrian hit and run traffic collision. Emergency personnel arrived and found that a 15-year-old girl from Huntington Beach had stepped into the southbound #2 lane of Coast Highway to walk around a legally parked car. She was struck by the side mirror of a passing car. 

“She was knocked against the parked car and was able to move out of the roadway. The passing car did not stop and fled the scene. The suspect car was described as a newer model silver four-door sedan with tinted windows. The pedestrian was transported to Mission Hospital-Mission Viejo for a laceration to her arm.”

Passenger in stolen Jetta danced in the street when stopped

According to the police log, a female passenger inside a stolen 2013 VW Jetta got out when the car was stopped by police at 1:33 a.m. Saturday at S. Coast Hwy and Nyes Place and began dancing. She was eventually released without charges.

The driver, Markus Dante Cash, 28, San Juan Capistrano, was charged with felony possession of a stolen vehicle and possession of methamphetamine. 

Bail was set at $20,000.

Working together to stop distracted driving

April is recognized as National Distracted Driving Awareness Month. In California, the Office of Traffic Safety (OTS), Laguna Beach Police Department, CHP, local law enforcement, and community partners throughout the state are working together to make the roads safer by highlighting the dangers of being distracted while driving, especially by cell phones. 

“Law enforcement would rather see everyone off their cell phones than hand out a lot of tickets,” said Rhonda Craft, director of the Office of Traffic Safety. “Take care of calling, texting, setting your GPS and everything else before you hit the street.” 

Assembly Bill 1785 went into effect on Jan 1, requiring all drivers in California to keep their cell phone out of their hands while operating a motor vehicle. Under the new law, a driver may activate or deactivate a feature or function of the cell phone or wireless communication device by swiping or tapping its screen only if it is properly mounted. Specific information on the new law can be found at www.ots.ca.gov. 

The Office of Traffic Safety will begin a new public awareness campaign throughout the state in April emphasizing how the new law makes virtually all hand-held cell phone activity illegal – talking, texting, and using apps. The campaign aims to end distracted driving through education and raise awareness about the associated dangers. 

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) reports that 3,477 people were killed and an estimated 391,000 injured in motor vehicle collisions involving distracted drivers in 2015. That is a 9 percent increase in fatalities as compared to the previous year. 

Officers from the Laguna Beach Police Department will join other law enforcement agencies throughout the state to provide educational experiences as well as zero tolerance enforcement efforts to discourage distracted driving. 

This campaign is funded by a grant from the California Office of Traffic Safety, through the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.

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

Woman arrested for felony assault at Skyloft

On March 10, a woman was hit in the face with a glass at Skyloft and taken to the hospital for her injuries.

After reviewing video footage of the incident and conducting an investigation, Laguna Beach Detectives identified and arrested the suspect on Tuesday, April 18.

Detectives located and arrested Sherida Angelica Arias, 38, Anaheim, for assault with bodily injury, assault with a deadly weapon, and mayhem.  

Man arrested for threatening police officers and their families

On Monday, April 17, at 3:56 p.m., officers responded to Alta Laguna Park after receiving a call of a man sitting in his vehicle for over an hour.

“When officers contacted the man, he was threatening to them and continually spoke about the violence he would do to them and their families if they did not leave him alone,” said Sgt. James Cota, LBPD spokesperson.

The man, identified as Anthony Tabarsi, 51, Costa Mesa, was taken into custody shortly thereafter and charged with making threats to deter officers from performing their duties and challenging officers to a fight. 

He was taken directly to Orange County Jail.


Police Files

18-year-old caught in a stolen car with two juveniles on board

At 5:33 a.m. on Friday, April 14, officers were notified that a Honda Odyssey that had been stolen in Costa Mesa a week earlier had entered Laguna Beach.

Officers stopped the vehicle near Anita Street and Coast Highway and detained its three occupants. 

The driver, Spencer Hastings Jr., 18, Costa Mesa, was arrested for felony vehicle theft with $20,000 bail.

The two female juveniles were transported to the police station.


Police Files

Tesla sideswipes semi-truck while on autopilot

Tesla started equipping its Model S vehicles with self-driving hardware in October 2014, to “relieve drivers of the most tedious and potentially dangerous aspects of road travel,” according to their website. The Autopilot function works like the same systems airplane pilots use – the driver is still responsible for and in control of the car.

This function didn’t work out too well for the driver of a Tesla S70 on Laguna Canyon Road Monday afternoon.

“The Tesla was headed outbound on Laguna Canyon Road when it collided into a semi-truck that was stopped on the side of the road just past Raquel Road,” said Sgt. James Cota of the LBPD. “At the time of the collision, the Tesla was in the autonomous mode.”

Neither parties were injured, but according to the police log, a tractor and trailer needed to be towed from the scene due to rear axle damage. 

Homeless man caught driving stolen car

On Monday at 9:40 a.m., officers were alerted to a 1990 Volvo stolen in Laguna Woods making its way down Coast Highway.

The car was stopped near El Paseo and Laguna, and its occupants detained shortly after 10 a.m.

The driver, Christopher Paul Mack, 49, no fixed address, was arrested for felony vehicle theft and possession of a stolen vehicle. 

Motorcyclist sustains head injury after hitting curb on Park Ave

Shortly after 11 p.m. on Tuesday, Laguna Beach Police officers arrived at Park Avenue and Tahiti Avenue following reports of a traffic collision.

“Officers on scene determined that a motorcyclist had collided with a curb and into the guardrail,” said Sgt. James Cota, LBPD spokesman. 

The rider sustained a head injury and was taken to Mission Hospital Mission Viejo for care.


Police Files

Drug dealer busted with Ecstasy & Adderall

Thursday at 2:33 a.m., an officer stopped a vehicle in the 700 block of Cliff Drive for failing to stop at a stop sign. The vehicle was searched.

“Officers found 30 Ecstasy pills, one clear pill containing powder MDMA (Ecstasy), and 10 Adderall pills,” said Sgt. James Cota, LBPD spokesperson. 

Rodrigo Padillo, 22, Irvine, was arrested for possession and transportation of a controlled substance for sales.

Man throws pizza at woman after she offers him free food

On Saturday afternoon, a woman offered food to a man on Ocean Avenue.

The man, identified as Michael Moody, 36, did not like this very much. A verbal altercation ensued, culminating in Moody throwing the pizza at her.

After officers contacted both parties and witnesses, Moody was arrested for assault against the woman. 

Laguna Beach PD is hiring

The City of Laguna Beach is now hiring men and women who have an interest in law enforcement. Come join the great team at LBPD!

The application deadline for Police Recruit & Academy Graduate is Monday, April 24, at 4 p.m.

You do not have to have been through the Police Academy to apply, but if hired you will be required to complete the 6-month intensive training.

Watch the Laguna Beach Police Department recruitment video at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1EO1_8xNZ3M.

For more details and to apply, visit http://www.lagunabeachcity.net/cityhall/personnel/opportunities.htm


Police Files

Homeowner and cops catch a burglar in the act

On Monday at 4:35 a.m., Laguna Beach police officers responded to a residence on Monterey Street after the homeowner called to report a man trying to break into a window on his property.

According to the police log, the suspect was clawing and crying on the ground before entering the residence’s garage.

Officers made contact with the man shortly after arriving and arrested him after the homeowner positively identified him. 

Stephen Michael Cobb, 24, West Hills, was taken into custody for burglary, trespassing and vandalism.

Couple of car thieves caught by cops

Laguna Beach Police officers helped return two stolen cars to their owners this week.

On Tuesday, officers were alerted that a vehicle stolen from a local rental car agency was entering the city via Laguna Canyon Road. The Kia Soul was supposed to have been returned in February.

Officers located the car in a parking lot on Laguna Cyn Rd, and followed the driver once he drove off. He ultimately stopped near the 73 onramp and El Toro Road.

The driver, Thomas Nordberg, 38, of Manhattan Beach, was arrested for possession of a stolen vehicle.

On Sunday, officers were alerted to a stolen car near Ledroit Street & N. Coast Hwy. The Hyundai Elantra had been reported stolen out of San Diego, and was ultimately stopped in the 700 block of S. Coast Hwy.

The driver and sole occupant, Vladimir Feldman, 37, of San Diego, was arrested for possession of a stolen vehicle. 

Laguna Beach PD is hiring

The City of Laguna Beach is now hiring men and women who have an interest in law enforcement. Come join the great team at LBPD!

The application deadline for Police Recruit & Academy Graduate is Monday, April 24, at 4 p.m.

You do not have to have been through the Police Academy to apply, but if hired you will be required to complete the 6-month intensive training.

Watch the Laguna Beach Police Department recruitment video at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1EO1_8xNZ3M.

For more details and to apply, visit http://www.lagunabeachcity.net/cityhall/personnel/opportunities.htm


Police Files

High-risk traffic stop on Saturday – guns drawn and an AR-15 in the vehicle

On Saturday afternoon around 2:45 p.m., the Laguna Beach PD received a call about a man and a woman seen in a vehicle with a gun. Officers located the vehicle and conducted a high-risk traffic stop in the 400 block of Forest Avenue.

The vehicle’s occupants were detained and an AR-15 rifle was found on the front floorboard of the vehicle, plus about 20 rounds of ammunition. 

The man, 20-year-old Sir West from Las Vegas, was arrested for misdemeanor possession of a loaded firearm.

The female, 27-year-old Saffire Wallace, also from Las Vegas, was arrested for misdemeanor possession of a firearm, misdemeanor driving on a suspended license, and felony child endangerment. 

The vehicle’s third occupant, a five-year-old child, was taken to Child Protective Services. 

After argument about birds, man punches and kicks officers

Saturday at 5:07 p.m., officers responded to Main Beach in response to two men who had been loudly arguing about feeding birds, according to the police log. The two men had been swearing at each other as well.

While driving to Main Beach, officers saw a man on a bicycle who matched the description of one of the men who had been arguing.

“When officers attempted to detain the man, he struck one of the officers with a closed fist in the face,” said Lt. Tim Kleiser of the LBPD.

The two officers present struggled to detain the man, who managed to kick the other officer. A third officer arrived, but the man continued to resist.

“The officers were eventually able to place handcuffs on him and place him in a patrol car,” said Kleiser.

The man, identified as Daniel Delrosario, 24, no fixed address, was arrested for felony resisting arrest and misdemeanor assault on a police officer.

Business burgled overnight

A delivery driver pulled up to the 200 block of Ocean Avenue on Saturday at 5:14 a.m. and noticed that all was not right with a neighboring business – a window was broken.

Officers arrived and checked the interior, where they found several open boxes and empty display cases.

Surveillance footage revealed four suspects, all hooded and wearing gloves, at the location around 4:49 a.m.

“The owner responded to the location and estimated the loss at $70,000,” said Lt. Kleiser, LBPD spokesperson. 

The case is under investigation.


Police Files

Van with several teens inside rolls over Laguna Canyon Road

Tuesday at 4:27 p.m., the outbound lanes of Laguna Canyon Road were blocked after a vehicle struck a dirt embankment and rolled over.

According to the police log, it was reported that the vehicle appeared to have several teenagers inside.

“It is suspected that the vehicle was driving on the shoulder to pass other vehicles when it struck a dirt embankment,” causing it to roll over, said Lt. Kleiser, LBPD spokesperson.

Two people were taken to the hospital for minor injuries.

The driver, 21-year-old Kimarra Fields from Cypress, was arrested for DUI, reckless driving, and driving without a license. 

More trees cut in SoLag

On Tuesday afternoon, the Public Works Department reported that someone had cut trees in the center median in the area of Blumont Street and Virginia Park Drive.

Two tops of the trees were trimmed, according to Lt. Kleiser of the LBPD. 

No further information on the incident was available.


Police Files

Helicopters didn’t find car thieves Saturday night but cop on patrol did next morning

On Sunday morning around 7 a.m., an officer saw two men in dirty, wet clothing walking on the sidewalk of Park Avenue. Noticing that one matched the description of the driver of a stolen car Saturday night, the officer stopped to talk to the two men.

One gave a false name and was arrested for resisting arrest. When his real name was discovered, Braulio Pulgarin, 18, from Whittier, was also arrested for his outstanding no bail warrant from Whittier.

The other man, alleged to be the driver of the car, was 18-year-old Alexander LopezTavira from Downey. He was arrested for assault with a deadly weapon, child endangerment, possession of a stolen vehicle, possession of stolen property, hit and run, and evading police officers.

This all came about from a stolen Lexus that entered Laguna Beach from Laguna Canyon Road on Saturday at 11:47 p.m.

“Officers found the vehicle near Forest Avenue and Broadway and attempted to stop it,” said Lt. Tim Kleiser of the LBPD. “The vehicle fled and struck a delivery truck in the Village Mart parking lot.”

The driver put the car in reverse after hitting the truck, proceeding to then hit the officer’s vehicle.

“The vehicle ultimately crashed on Park Avenue near Tahiti, and the occupants in the car fled on foot,” said Kleiser. 

By 12:23 a.m., thanks to helicopter support, the LBPD had detained two 15-year-old boys from Whittier. According to the police log, one was taken to UCI Medical Center with a broken leg. 

LopezTavira’s child endangerment was because two of the occupants were underage. 

Single vehicle car accident yields no serious injuries

On Saturday evening, the juvenile driver of a black Audi rolled the vehicle on the 1700 block of Park Avenue.

Photo by Scott Brashier

First responders said that the young driver had no life-threatening injuries

The driver was taken to the hospital for neck pain and bleeding hands, but there were no life-threatening injuries.

The cause of the collision is under investigation.


Police Files

The Art of the Steal: Painting purchase leads to arrest

On Monday evening, a customer used a credit card to purchase a painting for $1,512.00.

Only problem was, it wasn’t his credit card that he used.

“The owner of the credit card received an email alert about the transaction,” said Lt. Kleiser of the LBPD.  She called the gallery and told them she hadn’t made any purchases. She also talked to officers and informed them that the card was also fraudulently used at the Montage Laguna Beach.

Officers went to the Montage Laguna Beach and located the man who had made the purchase. After checking the room he was staying in, they found 12.41 grams of methamphetamine and a credit card skimmer.

Xilong Wang, 29, Riverside, was arrested for felony burglary, felony defrauding an innkeeper, felony theft of a credit card, felony possession of stolen property, and felony credit card fraud. Misdemeanors included possession of a controlled substance and possession of drug paraphernalia.

Kramer vs. Kramer?

Laguna Beach man in fight, warrant for vandalism leads to arrest

On Monday at 5:25 p.m., officers received a call about a physical altercation between two men at the ASL. Neither man had a weapon, and both were still fighting when officers arrived.

Both men were detained soon after the LBPD’s arrival.

Details were limited, but 45-year-old Donald Kramer from Laguna Beach was arrested for an outstanding $2,500 Central Court warrant for vandalism.


Police Files

Female drug dealer arrested early Sunday on Fairview

An officer saw two people seated inside a vehicle in the 200 block of Fairview Sunday morning at 3 a.m. The vehicle was searched.

“Officers seized a total amount of 38.65 grams of methamphetamine and 1.34 grams of heroin,” said Lt. Tim Kleiser of the LBPD.

Christine Ann Wright, 46, Fullerton, was arrested for felony possession of a controlled substance for sales.

 

Juveniles leap from the roof of Laguna Royale

On Saturday around 11:54 a.m., a witness reported two juveniles jumping off of the fourth-floor roof of the Laguna Royale complex in the 31400 block of Coast Hwy to land in the pool on the ocean side of the building. 

Beach Patrol officers contacted the two sixteen-year-old boys, one from Lake Forest and one from Rancho Santa Margarita, and issued citations for trespassing, since neither live in the complex.

They were later released to their parents.

Photo by Scott Brashier

 

False name leads to second arrest

On Friday night, officers conducted a routine traffic stop for a vehicle violation. The female occupant was arrested for possession of prescription pills without a prescription, providing officers with her information during the booking process.

After her release, she returned to the police station Saturday evening and informed officers she had given a false name and age during the previous arrest.

This led to a second arrest for 19-year-old Tyler Lattenhauer of Yorba Linda, this time for providing a false name


Police Files

Motorcycle chase ends at the 405

Tuesday night around 11:14 p.m., an officer witnessed a traffic violation by a motorcycle. A stop was attempted in the 2700 block of Laguna Cyn Rd.

The motorcyclist didn’t yield until he was past the 73 freeway, before the 405. 

Once stopped, officers learned that the driver, 26-year-old Ross Hamera from Costa Mesa, formerly from Laguna Beach, was on probation for DUI.

“The officer conducted a DUI investigation and arrested Hamera for DUI and violation of a court order,” said Lt. Tim Kleiser of the LBPD.

Hamera also had an outstanding Harbor Court bench warrant for DUI, failure to comply with an officer, and driving on a suspended license.

 

Don’t depend on the luck of the Irish tonight

St. Patrick’s Day has become one of the nation’s favorite holidays to celebrate and party. Unfortunately, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), 252 people lost their lives in drunk driving-related crashes during the St. Patrick’s Day holiday period from 2011-2015. 

More than a fourth of them were killed in drunk driving crashes that occurred in the early morning, post-party hours (midnight to 5:59 a.m.). 

Drugs including many prescription medications, marijuana or illicit drugs can also lead to impairment and unsafe driving. When mixed with even a small amount of alcohol, the effects can be compounded.

Hand over those keys if you are planning to drink tonight 

Additional officers from the LBPD will deploy this weekend to stop and arrest drivers showing signs of alcohol or drug impairment. In addition to this St Patrick’s Day enforcement effort, all police, sheriff and the CHP will be on heightened alert ready to stop and arrest any impaired driver throughout the weekend. 

Planning a sober ride home before the party begins is the first step in staying safe on St. Patrick’s Day. Don’t wait until you’ve already been drinking to make your transportation decision. 

Designate your sober driver in advance, and never get behind the wheel if you’ve been drinking. 

Don’t depend on the luck of the Irish, that’s the bottom line.


Police Files

Age and wisdom don’t always go hand in hand

It’s commonly thought that age and wisdom go together, but this duo is the exception to the rule.

On Friday evening around 6:30 p.m., officers stopped a Ford Taurus for a vehicle code violation. The two older male occupants were found to be in possession of drugs.

Officers arrested 62-year-old Remlow Blevins from Laguna Beach for misdemeanor possession of drug paraphernalia and 59-year-old Richard Goodman from Mission Viejo for misdemeanor possession of a controlled substance and misdemeanor possession of drug paraphernalia.

High-risk traffic stop comes with drugs

On Saturday at 9:16 a.m., officers were alerted to a stolen Honda CRV that had entered the city on Laguna Canyon Road. It had been reported stolen in Santa Ana on March 3.

“Officers found the vehicle in the 600 block of Laguna Canyon Road,” said Lt. Tim Kleiser of the LBPD. “They stopped the vehicle on the 200 block of Cliff Drive and since it was a high risk stop, traffic was stopped in each direction.” High-risk traffic stops involve multiple patrol units with guns drawn. 

The driver, Juan Gutierrez, 22, of Laguna Hills, was arrested for vehicle theft. 

Officers also found a glass pipe on his person and a total of 6.98 grams of methamphetamine in his pocket and in the vehicle, adding on the charges of possession of a controlled substance and possession of drug paraphernalia. 

This St. Patrick’s Day, plan before you party!

Impaired driving, drugs and alcohol can kill

St. Patrick’s Day has become one of the nation’s favorite holidays to celebrate and party. Unfortunately, too many people are taking to the roads after drinking, making the holiday one of our most dangerous. According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), 252 people lost their lives in drunk driving-related crashes during the St. Patrick’s Day holiday period from 2011-2015. More than a fourth of them were killed in drunk driving crashes that occurred in the early morning, post-party hours (midnight to 5:59 a.m.). 

That’s why the Laguna Beach Police Department and the California Office of Traffic Safety are teaming up to reach all drivers with an important life-saving message and warning: Don’t Drive Impaired by Drugs or Alcohol. 

Drugs such as many prescription medications, marijuana or illicit drugs can also lead to impairment and unsafe driving. When mixed with even a small amount of alcohol, the affects can be compounded. 

Additional officers from the Laguna Beach Police Department will deploy this weekend specifically to stop and arrest drivers showing signs of alcohol or drug impairment. In addition to this St Patrick’s Day enforcement effort, all police, sheriff and the CHP will be on heightened alert ready to stop and arrest any impaired driver throughout the weekend. 

These needless deaths can be prevented. Planning a sober ride home before the party begins is the first step in staying safe on St. Patrick’s Day. Don’t wait until you’ve already been drinking to make your transportation decision. Designate your sober driver in advance, and never get behind the wheel if you’ve been drinking. 

This enforcement effort is funded by a grant from the California Office of Traffic Safety, through the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration who reminds everyone to be alert and ‘Report Drunk Drivers – Call 9-1-1’ if you see a dangerous driver.

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

From a press release


Police Files

Drugs, a dog and danger

On Sunday at 11:07 p.m., officers stopped a vehicle in the 200 block of Ocean Avenue. A search of the car was initiated.

Inside, they found a Chihuahua puppy, a young child, and 42.09 grams of methamphetamine.

The driver, Whitney Michelle Martin Wilkes, 40, Orange, was arrested for possession of a controlled substance for sale and transportation of a controlled substance with intent to sell.

The child was taken to Orangewood and the pup taken to a shelter.

Throwing chairs off a roof? Bad idea

On Tuesday around 12:10 a.m., officers responded to the 1500 block of S. Coast Hwy in response to a male on a roof throwing chairs down onto the beach.

“Officers detained three people and arrested one of them, 19-year-old Wrackkie Quiogue from Orange, for false identification to a peace officer and minor in possession of alcohol,” said Lt. Tim Kleiser of the LBPD. 

The other two, juveniles, were released at the scene. No other information was available.

Woman jumps off balcony at Surf & Sand

Last Saturday, March 4, at 9:38 p.m., emergency personnel went to the Surf & Sand to render aid to a woman who fell from a fourth story balcony.

“It appears the woman may have intentionally jumped off the balcony,” said Lt. Tim Kleiser of the LBPD. “The woman landed near the pool and there were doctors nearby that immediately tended to her.”

The 33-year-old San Juan Capo resident was taken to the hospital. No updates were available. 


Police Files

Fob him off: This cat burglar might have 9 lives

On Sunday around 7:30 a.m., officers responded to a residence on the 900 block of Glenneyre Street for a residential burglary.

“The resident was home and heard a noise coming from the front room,” said Lt Tim Kleiser of the LBPD. “When he went to investigate the noise, he saw a man inside.”

The man told the resident he was looking for the owner of a key fob he had found, which he handed over to the resident and left. The reporting party didn’t know the man.

The resident later noticed his wallet was missing.

The man was not found by officers. 

Man kicks a trolley, brandishes a stick, kicks an officer

On Thursday around 1:30 p.m., officers responded to the 300 block of Broadway in response to a man who had threatened the trolley driver and also kicked the trolley.

The two officers who initially arrived saw him kicking the trolley and holding a stick. After being repeatedly asked to drop the stick, he complied. 

“The man continued to walk toward the officers and one of them took a hold of the man,” said Lt. Tim Kleiser of the LBPD. “He pushed one of the officers, causing the officer to fall. The other officer was still attempting to place handcuffs on the man. The other officer got up and assisted him.”

While they were attempting to put the man in the patrol car, he kicked an officer in the chest and began pulling on one of the officer’s holsters. After a brief struggle, he was secured inside the vehicle.

Both officers received minor injuries from the incident.

The man, identified as Dennis Hagan, 44, Adelanto, was arrested for felony resisting arrest and battery on a peace officer.


Police Files

Six teens detained in stolen vehicle at 4 a.m.

On Tuesday, Feb 28, at 4:08 a.m., officers were notified of a Honda Civic that had been reported stolen in Aliso Viejo earlier in the morning entering Laguna Beach from Laguna Canyon Road. 

Officers found the vehicle near Canyon Acres and stopped it in the 300 block of Broadway. All six of its occupants were detained.

The driver, 18-year-old Cedric Campbell from Aliso Viejo, was arrested for felony vehicle theft.

One passenger, Aldous Aaron Manasala, 19, Aliso Viejo, was arrested for false identification to a peace officer, felony vehicle theft and conspiracy.

The other four passengers, all 15 years old, three from Aliso Viejo and one from Irvine, were issued citations for curfew, detained and released to their parents.

 

Would-be car thief has Cadillac tastes – but unlocked car door leads to her lockup

On Monday Feb 27 on the 500 block of Forest Ave, at 11:53 a.m., a woman was seen checking door handles on parked vehicles, and entering a silver Cadillac. An officer detained her while she was trying to start the Cadillac, which was not hers. They also found .96 grams of methamphetamine and .33 grams of heroin on the woman. 

Lindsey Patterson, 35, Los Angeles, was arrested for felony vehicle theft, misdemeanor possession of a controlled substance, and misdemeanor possession of narcotics. 

Another drug dealer busted – and ID theft is involved also

At 2:15 a.m. on Tuesday, Feb 28, an officer stopped a vehicle for a traffic violation in the 200 block of N. Coast Hwy. While conducting a search of the vehicle, officers found drug paraphernalia, credit cards, driver’s licenses, and mail that did not belong to either occupant. 

The driver, 23-year-old Anthony Aparicio from Fullerton, was arrested for possession of drug paraphernalia. The passenger, Silvia Dominguez, 26, Tustin, was arrested for theft of a credit card. But that wasn’t all for Dominguez.

“When Dominguez arrived at the station, officers found a glass methamphetamine pipe and a total of 14 grams of methamphetamine,” said Lieutenant Tim Kleiser, LBPD spokesperson. She was then charged with possession and transportation of a controlled substance for sales.

Continuing their investigation at the station, officers located other evidence pertaining to identity theft which was determined to belong to Dominguez. Possession of personal identifying information was added to her list of charges for the morning.


Police Files

Vehicle crashes into La Sirena Grill, Gelson’s also involved

On Sunday at 6:32 p.m., emergency personnel responded to the Gelson’s shopping center in South Laguna for a vehicle that had struck the building of La Sirena Grill. No injuries were reported, and alcohol and drugs were not a factor. Initial fears of terrorism appear on social media, are unfounded, to everyone’s relief.

Click on photo for a larger image

Photo by Art Z of Sawdust Festival

A crash that was frightening for everyone, but fortunately there were no injuries

“Initial investigation appears the driver was attempting to park the vehicle, but pressed on the accelerator instead of the brakes,” said Sgt. Tim Kleiser of the LBPD. 

 

Two arrested in stolen vehicle – chase ends on Balboa Island

On Thursday, Feb. 23, officers were alerted that a Honda CRV reported stolen out of Santa Ana the previous day had entered the city. Officers located the vehicle near Forest Avenue heading north on Coast Highway.

When the vehicle turned into a gas station lot, a male passenger exited the vehicle and attempted to flee on foot. Officers detained and arrested Ryan Shelton, 34, San Juan Capo, for resisting arrest. 

Ryan Shelton                           Logan Carson

“The vehicle fled north on Coast Highway and officers continued to pursue the vehicle into Newport Beach,” said Kleiser. “The vehicle stopped on Balboa Island and the driver fled on foot, but was quickly found by the officers.”

The driver, Logan Carson, 33, Newport Beach, was arrested for felony vehicle theft, felony evading, and possession of a controlled substance. 

 

Stuck truck on Summit causes traffic headaches after crane fire

Summit Drive was closed for about an hour last Saturday afternoon when a tow truck that had been called in to remove an inoperable crane got stuck. The crane had caught on fire while working on a home the previous day. 

Click on photo for larger image

Photo by Michelle Bentcliff

Stuck truck on Summit Drive


Police Files

Vigilance is the key this weekend – as always!

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

Don’t drink and drive – and don’t use drugs and drive – choose a designated driver

DUI Saturation Patrols will deploy on Saturday, Feb 25 between the hours of 8 p.m. and 3 a.m. in areas with high frequencies of DUI collisions and/or arrests. 

Be vigilant, for yourself and others! Make sure you have a designated driver.

Another reason to be vigilant

Another reason to be vigilant: Recent package thefts have been reported, including one taken from the front porch of a home in the 700 block of Gaviota. 

“Neighbors should continue to be vigilant and call the police when they see something or someone suspicious,” recommended Sgt. Kleiser of the LBPD. 

Speaking of odd behavior…

On Sunday at 7:56 p.m., officers responded to the 1300 block of S. Coast Hwy for a verbal dispute between a male and a female.

“While officers were on scene, the male told the officers the shelter was hiding the female friend of his,” said Kleiser. “Officers had earlier responded to the location in regards to the man’s claims about the female, which was determined to be untrue by the officers.”

What was true was that the male was intoxicated, and that he got into a van and drove away.

Officers located the van in the Ralph’s parking lot and arrested Eric Hertle, 60, no fixed address, for driving under the influence. 

Drive carefully!

On Tuesday evening, emergency personnel responded to High Drive & Myrtle Street for a traffic collision – a moving vehicle had collided with a parked vehicle.

Click on photo for a larger image

Photo by Patrick Gallis

Accident on High and Myrtle – no one injured

No one was injured and the cause of the collision is under investigation – but the vehicle had to be towed away from the scene.


Police Files

Man attempts to spring his car from tow lot – but instead he’s locked up…

On Saturday at 5:32 p.m., officers responded to the tow lot on Laguna Canyon Road following a report about male who had entered the tow yard without permission.

“The RP also told our dispatcher the male got into a vehicle and was trying to drive it away,” said Sgt. Tim Kleiser. “The officers found out it was his car.”

The tow truck driver who originated the call blocked the vehicle from leaving. At one point, the male exited the vehicle and attempted to open the motorized gate, causing it to become inoperable and causing approximately $500 in damages.

Officers arrested the male, 23-year-old Miles McGlothlin from Texas, for felony vandalism and misdemeanor trespassing. 

Lots of storm damage on Friday

Friday’s storm brought at least 45 reports of downed trees or tree branches, one report of the roof blown off a house, and one report of a hillside coming down, requiring a geologist to declare the area stable before residents were allowed to reenter their home. 

Trees damaged at least six vehicles and there were several reports of downed wires. 

“The Emergency Operations Center was open from 12 p.m. to 10 p.m. and our dispatchers received a total of 192 calls for service,” said Kleiser. “Compare that to the previous Friday; during the exact same hours we had 70 calls for service.”

  Hats off to the police department, fire department, public works, and all other emergency personnel who helped us get through the storm.


Police Files

A fly-by-night scheme?

Seems like it’s been the calm before the (literal) storm…no major criminal incidents reported this week…except for a theft of 100,000 frequent flyer miles: Is the perpetrator a flight risk? We await the outcome with high anxiety.

Stay safe in the storm, everyone.


Police Files

One helicopter and 100 motorbikes: so much for a pleasant valley Sunday in the Canyon

On Sunday around 11:45 a.m., Newport Beach Police notified Laguna Beach that there were about 100 motorcycles heading in to the city on Coast Hwy.

“Officers followed and monitored the motorcycles up to Alta Laguna near the park,” said Sgt. Tim Kleiser of the LBPD. “Our officers did issue one citation to a rider who failed to stop for a stop sign.”

Newport also told the LBPD that one of their officers got into a pursuit with one rider who fled the area, but the outcome of the pursuit was unknown.

Meth-busters: Officers arrest mule

On Wednesday night at 10:22 p.m., Laguna Beach Police officers approached a vehicle, making contact with its occupant – who happened to be carrying meth.

Heather Tiffany Pflug, 41, Laguna Hills was arrested for possession of a controlled substance, but it wasn’t long before the officers found the rest of the meth, 7.92 grams in total. Pflug’s charges were upgraded to transportation of a controlled substance for sales with $25,000 bail.


Police Files

Bong bang could have been bad for butter-fingered burglar but burgled bong-seller declines to prosecute

On Monday, officers responded to a business on the 600 block of S. Coast Hwy regarding a robbery. Earlier, while a store employee had temporarily stepped outside the business, a male had gone behind the counter, taken a large bong and placed it under his shirt.

According to the police log, as the employee tried to stop the male from fleeing, “he used the bong to hit her.” Officers were unable to locate the suspect, but the employee did find a piece of paper that the man had dropped, which included his name.

Social media can be a bummer if you burgle

“The employee was able to locate the male with an online social media account and sent him a message the next day that a police report had been filed,” said Sgt. Kleiser of the LBPD. 

“The male replied back and apologized for the incident and agreed to pay for the item he had taken,” – a $560 bong.

The employee agreed to handle the incident civilly and not seek prosecution. The suspect’s name was not available once the business declined to prosecute.

Thanks to the civil arrangement the male and the employee agreed upon, the contrite suspect avoided a major felony. Lucky bong burglar!


Police Files

Pair of bad girls went to jail

In two separate incidents just an hour apart this weekend, Laguna Beach police officers arrested two women.

The first was on Saturday at 11:32 p.m. An officer stopped a vehicle for a traffic violation and while he was speaking to the driver, he saw an open can of beer on the rear floorboard and a vape pen with marijuana. After conducting a DUI investigation, Arianna Medicina, 23, Oceanside, was arrested for DUI. But that wasn’t all.

“During a search of the car, the officers found 13 pills of Alprazolam, a bottle of nitrous, and 3 pieces of candy laced with LSD,” said Sgt. Tim Kleiser. She was also charged with felony transportation of a controlled substance for sales, felony possession of a controlled substance, and felony possession of a controlled substance for sales.

Sunday morning at 12:41 a.m., officers stopped a woman for public intoxication. 

“When the officers were searching her, she kicked one of the officers on the leg,” said Kleiser. “When they were escorting her to jail she spit at two other officers.”

Nicole Adams, 25, Mission Viejo, was charged with being drunk in public and violence to prevent an officer from doing their duty.

Stolen Prius leads to arrest

On Friday evening at 8:59 p.m., officers were alerted to a Toyota Prius entering Laguna Beach via Laguna Canyon Road that had been reported stolen to the Orange County Sheriff’s Department.

The vehicle was stopped on S. Coast Hwy at Cleo Street. The driver, 19-year-old Jason Plunkett-Salvador from Huntington Beach, was arrested for felony vehicle theft. 


Police Files

Call the right play for Super Bowl 51 – pass the keys to a sober driver before the big game begins

On Sunday, Feb 5, football fans across the country will tune in to watch Super Bowl 51. For many of them, the game experience will include alcohol. The California Office of Traffic Safety (OTS) is teaming up with law enforcement agencies across the state for a special Fans Don’t Let Fans Drive Drunk campaign, urging all football fans to call the right play on Super Bowl weekend and pass the keys to a sober driver before the drinking begins. 

As part of the Super Bowl Sunday enforcement efforts, police, sheriff and the CHP will be on heightened alert ready to stop and arrest any impaired driver. 

Fans don’t let fans drive drunk

Impaired driving can be deadly. A driver is considered alcohol-impaired with a blood alcohol concentration (BAC) of .08% or higher, but even a small amount of alcohol can impair judgment and reaction times enough to make driving unsafe. Many medications (prescription and over-the-counter), marijuana, and illicit drugs can also lead to impairment and unsafe driving, resulting in a DUI. 

 “Volunteer to be a designated driver to help your family and friends get home safely,” said OTS Director Rhonda Craft. “Impaired driving only leads to disaster and tragedy. It is never worth the risk. If you do plan to drink, and/or are taking medications or using marijuana, plan now to pass the keys to a sober driver before kickoff.” 

For those who plan to drink, leave your keys at home. For those who do plan to drive, refrain from consuming any alcohol. Instead, enjoy the game with food and non-alcoholic drinks. 

Download an app for a designated driver

Drivers can also download OTS’s Designated Driver VIP, or “DDVIP,” free mobile app to get connected with free designated-driver incentives at local establishments or to order a sober ride from Uber, Lyft, or Curb. 

This enforcement effort is funded by a grant from the California Office of Traffic Safety, through the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration who reminds everyone to be alert and ‘Report Drunk Drivers – Call 911’ if you see a dangerous driver call immediately!


Police Files

Man, 24, left a trail of crimes along Park Avenue

Police dispatch received a 9-1-1 call early last Wednesday evening reporting that a man was walking in the roadway near the high school on Park Avenue carrying a stick and swinging it at people’s cars. Traffic, the caller said, had stopped and was backed up on both sides of the street.

Officers arrived on scene and had him detained four minutes after the initial call. Alexander Steven Tracy, 24, Laguna Niguel, was soon in custody for being drunk in public. Among his possessions was a Head tennis racquet.

Meanwhile, another officer responded to the 900 block of Park Ave to take a report for a residential burglary.

LBPD Sgt. Tim Kleiser said, “The resident arrived home and found his front and rear doors open. Officers checked the house and found property that belonged to Tracy. The victim noticed two Head tennis racquets had been taken, one of which was in Tracy’s possession and also a bottle of tequila was missing.”

A little while later, an officer responded to the 800 block of Park Ave for a report of vandalism Sgt. Kleiser added, “The resident arrived home around 6:45 and noticed the mailbox had been damaged and broken glass on the driveway. The glass was from the bottle of tequila taken from the residence where the burglary was reported.”

Tracy ended up going to jail for residential burglary, a felony, vandalism and being drunk in public. He was also on probation leading to his status being changed to being a probation violator and he was held without bail.

A man left a watermelon at the front door of the PD

At 10:24 Friday morning, the surveillance camera at the front door of the Police Department revealed a man described as being in his late 40s or early 50s placing a watermelon in front and then walking away.

Police are enhancing the video in the hope of being able to identify the man.

Sgt. Tim Kleiser of the LBPD said, “We don’t know what the purpose of this was, but we think it maybe in regards to the high school incident.”

Remember, for a complete listing of crimes and arrests in town, scroll down to Police Beat at the bottom of our second front page


Police Files

Sounds as if this burglary may been an “inside job”

When we think of burglaries, we rarely consider them to be an inside job, i.e., someone who had or has knowledge of where the money is and the best time to go for the taking.

There’s no evidence from the LBPD that we are correct in our deduction, but we want you to see what “fake news” can be.

A woman left her Laguna Beach from 9 a.m. to 6:30 p.m. When she got home, she saw that an outside door to her laundry was open and upon looking around, she saw that an office desk drawer was open.

$15,000 in cash was missing.

Laguna Beach PD detectives are on the case. 

Tree outside Urth Caffe is benched by the storm

Click on photo for a larger image

Photo by Dianne Russell

No, this is not the controversial tree in North Laguna


Police Files

Greeter’s waving hampered by a set of handcuffs

Michael Minutoli, 57, no fixed address, aka “The Greeter”, was arrested last Wednesday afternoon in North Laguna.

A local hotel called police reporting that a known suspect had taken a cable TV box and damaged the TV set from a room.

After taking the report, the officer saw him at the Stop ‘N Go in North Laguna. When Minutoli saw the officer, according to the police log, he ran into a restroom and refused to come out for sometime.

Police were eventually able to get him to come out of the restroom – after they had located the cable box where it had been thrown as Minutoli ran through a backroom on the way to the restroom.

He was arrested for theft and vandalism.


Police Files

Woman, 25, beats on man near Taco Bell – gets jailed

Police responded to a reported fight by Taco Bell on S. Coast Hwy at 1 p.m. Sunday and made contact with a man and a woman.

After an interview by police, it was determined that the woman, Stephanie Nichole Mancuso, 25, Ohio, had been trespassing on the man’s property. Their argument continued to the area where the call originated and Mancuso allegedly began to physically assault the man and pushed him according to LBPD Sgt. Tim Kleiser.  

She was subsequently searched and a quantity of methamphetamine and a pipe were found on her. She had also given police a fake name. When her real name was checked, she had a $2500 warrant with misdemeanor drug charges.

She was arrested for possession of methamphetamine, possession of drug paraphernalia, providing false information to an officer and the warrant.   

Clarification of details of man arrested at Mission Hospital

On Tuesday, we reported the arrest of Dana Point resident Ian Keegan, 55, after, according to the police log, “…walking around with a bottle of vodka and got in an SUV to leave…” the parking lot at Mission Hospital. Keegan was arrested for DUI and held for parole violation.

We want to clarify that any indication from our report that Keegan had been a patient at Mission Hospital Laguna Beach would be an erroneous conclusion.  He was, according to the caller who notified the police, dropped off at the hospital, but he never checked in or was seen there.

We regret any wrongful conclusions our readers may have drawn.


Police Files

Man arrested at Mission Hospital after OC Sheriff’s deputies had dropped him off there for detox

While details are sparse, according to Sgt. Tim Kleiser of the LBPD, a Dana Point man, Ian Keegan, 54, who was on formal parole was arrested last Wednesday night outside of Mission Hospital, Laguna Beach after deputies from the OC Sheriff’s Dept. had earlier dropped him off to detox.

Sgt. Kleiser said Monday that the police report had not been completed and that he had no details as to the Sheriff’s deputies.

The police log said that the caller who reported the incident had said that a man who had been dropped off at Mission by OC Sheriff’s deputies was, from the log, “…walking around with a bottle of vodka and got in an SUV to leave…”

Officers stopped Keegan and after an investigation, arrested him for DUI, driving on a suspended or revoked license due to a DUI conviction and driving on a suspended or revoked license due to a DUI conviction without an interlocking device.

After contacting Keegan’s parole officer, he was ordered to be held without bail for violation of his formal parole conditions. He was transported to Santa Ana for Department of Corrections pick up there.


Police Files

City Council gadfly and son arrested in alleged plot after the son threatened councilmembers and city manager

Police said that on Wednesday, Jan 4, city hall employees led department detectives to a Craigslist posting titled, “Going to Laguna Beach city council with My Gillie suit.”

Robert Mason Ross, 75, and Michael James Ross, 33, were arrested that night. The elder Ross is a recognizable city council gadfly who has made veiled and open threats against the city over the past several years. He threw his hat into the political ring in 2012 as a candidate for the council and received over 750 votes. 

A press release from LBPD this week added, “The posting contained five different photos of a man with an automatic rifle hiding in the brush while wearing a Ghillie suit (camouflage clothing). The posting by the author stated, ‘I am warning the city council that I am going to show up with my gillie [sic] suit, to remove these tyrants from office, in 2017.’ The post also stated, ‘Call the police and the city, council and tell them I am coming to end this corruption, from the Laguna Beach City Council, once and for all. Hahahahahaha, you are going down now.’”

A search warrant was secured and served on their Treetop Lane residence that night.

LBPD joined the OC Sheriff’s SWAT team and made their first knock at about midnight without the door opening. The SWAT team used “flash bang grenades” according to the police log and there were lights on inside the house at 12:17 a.m. for about six minutes. Police continued to announce their presence to no avail before making a final call out to the occupants and entered at 1:17 detaining both men.

The press release continued: “Inside the home, investigators located six rifles, a semi-automatic handgun, and over 100 boxes of ammunition.

“At the conclusion of the search warrant, investigators arrested Michael James Ross for Criminal Threats and Threats to Public Officials. His father, Robert Mason Ross was arrested for being a Convicted Felon in Possession of Firearms. 

Bail was set on Jan 6 at $250,000. Michael Ross posted bail and was released earlier this week. The elder Ross was still in county jail as of Tuesday night.

Woman injured in traffic crash had a surprise bindle in her bra  

A woman was slightly injured in a rollover traffic crash on S. Coast Hwy Tuesday afternoon. Paramedics transported her to Mission Hospital Laguna Beach for medical observation.

Two dogs inside the vehicle were also transported for observation by animal services officers.

At hospital, San Clemente resident Dellia Ledwidge, 53, was found to have a bindle of methamphetamine in her bra – and that led to her being charged with felony possession of a controlled substance for sales and felony transportation for sales.

Her bail was set at $25,000.

Reminder: DUI enforcement operations planned this weekend

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

DUI Saturation Patrols will deploy on Saturday, Jan 14, between the hours of 8 p.m. and 3 a.m. in areas with high frequencies of DUI collisions and/or arrests.

In California, this deadly crime led to 1,155 deaths and nearly 24,000 injuries in 2014 because someone failed to designate a sober driver. 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.


Police Files

Jaywalking led to arrest for a dagger and meth sales

Last Thursday night at 10:49, a patrol unit made contact with a man and a woman who crossed S. Coast Hwy near Cleo Street. They were not near a crosswalk and hence, jaywalking.

When it was learned that Richard Wayne Owens, 42, San Clemente, was on formal probation, a search was started. People on probation are subject to search and seizure at any time, any place.

Police said the officer searching Owens found a dagger in a sheath around his neck and over an ounce of methamphetamine, a digital scale and a hypodermic needle inside his backpack.

Owens went to jail without bail for probation violation, felony possession of dangerous and felony possession of dangerous drugs for sales.

His companion, Pamela Bowers, 45, no fixed address, was arrested on a Harbor Court warrant for being drunk in public.


Police Files

Tesla stolen on Glenneyre lot – keys were left inside the unlocked car

A man left his 2013 Tesla parked on the Glenneyre lot Monday night around 7:50. It was unlocked and the keys were inside, police said.

When the owner came back to the parking structure a little less than an hour later his Tesla was – gone.

The car’s owner used the Tesla app on his cell phone with the police nearby and immediately located the car at a Dana Point gas station.

OC Sheriff’s deputies were at the gas station in a jiffy and took one man into custody while another man was able to elude deputies on foot for a short while.

Sgt. Tim Kleiser of the LBPD said Laguna officers responded to Dana Point and questioned the two men. One, Jacob Lee Davis, 31, La Habra, was arrested for a no bail warrant with a charge of two prior offenses for stealing vehicles. 

Further charges may follow according to Sgt. Kleiser.

The other man was released.

The case is still under investigation.


Police Files

Two more drug dealers busted for routine traffic violations

Perhaps we’re condescending when we compare some persons who have been arrested to the old Jay Leno segment of “stupid criminals”. Stupid may not be the operative word – more to the point: how about a lack of common sense.

Two different drug dealers must have felt especially lucky while driving on Laguna streets this past week for they definitely showed a lack of common sense.

In the first instance, an officer noticed that a car’s brake lights weren’t working properly. As is usual the officer ran the plate and it came back with expired registration. The car nonetheless displayed a current registration sticker.

In another situation, an officer wondered why a car was parked in a red zone and partially blocking a traffic lane on S. Coast Hwy. On top of that, when the officer approached the car, he found the driver fast asleep at the wheel.

The first scenario happened last Thursday night shortly after nine o’clock in the 700 block of S. Coast Hwy. The officer spoke with the driver, Miguel Pacheco, 51 of Costa Mesa and searched him.

Sgt. Tim Kleiser of the LBPD said Monday, “The officer found a bag that contained several pills. The driver was unable to provide a valid prescription to the officer. A total of 201 pills of Methylone, 1 pill of Alprazolam, 1 pill of Valium, and 1 pill of Viagra were seized from the suspect.”

Pacheco was arrested for felony sales of a controlled substance, felony possession of a controlled substance for sales and misdemeanor possession of a controlled substance. 

The second incident occurred at 3:20 a.m. on Dec 31 in the 2300 block of S. Coast Hwy. Sgt. Kleiser explained that the officer was heading northbound on the highway when he saw a VW partially blocking a southbound traffic lane and parked in a red curb zone. Looking closer, it was apparent that the driver was sound asleep.

“The officer contacted the driver and during a search found a small plastic baggy in his pants pocket that contained methamphetamine. During a search of the car, the officer found three pills of Xanax, additional methamphetamine, a scale and a baggie of marijuana. The marijuana weighed 25.48 grams and a total of 36 grams of methamphetamine was found. 

“The driver, 28-year-old Phillip Jackson from Long Beach, was arrested for felony sales of a controlled substance, felony possession of a controlled substance for sales and misdemeanor possession of a controlled substance.”

Woman decided it’s better to kick a cop rather than sign a citation

The city of Laguna Beach prohibits smoking on the beach.

One morning last week, an officer stopped Rhonda Metoyer, 57, no fixed address, on Main Beach for smoking a cigarette.

The officer wrote a citation and Metoyer allegedly refused to sign it. It was explained to her that if she didn’t sign promising to appear in court, that she would have to be taken into custody and to jail.

Sgt. Tim Kleiser said, “When the officer stepped forward to hand her his pen, she grabbed the pen from him and kicked him on the shin. Another officer arrived and the woman was arrested for felony resisting a police officer.”

Of note here: Under California law, when someone is being issued a citation, they are technically under arrest/detention by the police officer. Signing the citation and thus promising to appear in court at a specific time and date becomes a “get-out-of-jail-free” card since the person cited is sent along their way without posting bail.


Police Files

Burglar enters occupied home on Rivera Drive in Irvine Cove

A woman called 9-1-1 at 7:50 Wednesday night reporting that she was hiding in the kitchen with her child and housekeeper. An unknown man had come into their home and she knew he had seen her.

According to the police log, she told the dispatcher that the front door had been locked and she was uncertain how the man had gotten inside the home. She described the man as appearing to be “zoned out.”

The dispatcher had the three people leave the house via the front door as officers responded to the area.

Police searched the home and it was clear. A helicopter did a flyover to check for anyone in the backyard or nearby.

The suspect wasn’t located.

Surveillance video showed the man, described as being white, about 5-10” with a thin build and short hair.

The victim checked the home and determined the burglar had taken about $1300 in unspecified property from the residence.

Angry 24-year-old drunk man fights four cops on Ocean Avenue

At 1:35 Sunday morning, a patrol officer was flagged down by security outside of Hennessey’s in the 200 block of Ocean Avenue. The officer saw that two men were aggressively challenging the security staff to a fight, Sgt. Tim Kleiser of the LBPD said Monday.

“The officer intervened and told the two to leave, which they did. As the officer was leaving the scene, he saw that one of the males continued to act aggressive. When he turned around and returned, the officer saw the same man standing in the middle of the street in front of another police vehicle.”

The man was later identified as Adam Shapiro, 24 from Rio Ranch, New Mexico.

Both officers made contact with Shapiro.

Kleiser explained, “Both officers approached the man and asked him to sit down and he refused. The officers attempted to place him under arrest and he began to pull away from the officers and struggled with them. Two other officers arrived and after a continuing struggle, they were able to place him in handcuffs.”

Two of the officers sustained minor injures, Kleiser said.

Shapiro was arrested for public intoxication and felony resisting a police officer.


Police Files

Citizen tells cops a drug deal might be taking place

An alert 9-1-1 caller reported in the wee hours Monday morning that what appeared to be a drug deal was happening then and there.

The call was made at 2:52 a.m. and the location was a parking lot in the 400 block of N. Coast Hwy. According to the police log, the caller said three vehicles had come together and one person handed something to another through the window.

The first patrol unit was on scene within two minutes and detained all three drivers and began questioning them.

LBPD booking photos

Officers conducted vehicle searches and found 21 Sublingual tablets, 28 Diazepam pills, two pills of Alprazolam, and heroin.

Mariah Michelle Burnett Gallette, 24, Ladera Ranch and John Jack Latko Jr., 33, Mission Viejo, were both arrested for possession of drugs.

Deven Thomas Clark, 24, Aliso Viejo, was also arrested for possession of drugs but he was also on formal probation and was ordered to be held without bail for violating the terms of his post release agreement. 

Laguna Beach man arrested for arson in connection with hillside brush fire off Laguna Canyon Rd Nov 18

LBPD detectives and LB Fire Department arson investigators arrested Laguna Beach resident Thomas Dylan Richeson, 27, on a charge of felony arson Wednesday for intentionally setting a brush fire on Nov 18. The fire was on a hillside above the dog park off Laguna Canyon Rd and burned about an acre.

Laguna Beach and Orange County Fire Authority firefighters and a helicopter put the fire out in about two hours.

Laguna Beach Police Sgt. Tim Kleiser said in a statement released Thursday, “During the incident, a witness provided investigators with information about a man seen running from the area shortly after the fire started. Investigators used nearby video footage to identify the male. 

“He was interviewed and subsequently arrested for the arson.”

This will not be a good weekend to drink and drive

DUI saturation patrols will be out just about everywhere in California this weekend as the holiday party season hits its peak.

Here, officers looking only for the telltale signs of alcohol or drug impaired drivers will be on the city streets from 9 p.m. Saturday to 3 a.m. Sunday.

Get your designated drivers in place before you drink and drive.


Police Files

Woman breaks bad in TI Park – threatens to kill cop

At about 9:20 Thursday morning, an officer made contact with Toni Nelson, 54, no fixed address out of Arizona in Treasure Island Park. 

She had been causing a disturbance and the officer was trying to calm the situation along with Montage Laguna Beach security. After a few minutes, the officer had the dispatcher contact city public services to have them send a pickup with “several trash bags to dispose of transient property…” according to the police log.

Within a few minutes of that being done, Nelson allegedly became uncontrollable and refused to follow the officer’s commands. She began throwing trash all around the area and refused to stop.

The officer used a contact taser that had no effect, the log stated.

She threatened to kill the officer and said she wanted the police to “blow her brains out…” She was controlled and seated after a few more minutes.

She was taken into custody at 9:55 and arrested on charges of making criminal threats of bodily harm, a felony, threatening an officer, resisting an officer and threatening a fight in a public place. 

Her bail was set at $50,000.

Woman, 28, charged with felony DUI after Glenneyre crash

Sarah Rebecca MacDonald, 28 of Laguna Niguel, crashed into a pole in the 500 block of Glenneyre after veering off the roadway at 4:18 Saturday afternoon.

She was able to get out but her injured passenger was trapped inside.

Laguna Beach firefighters were able to extricate the passenger, who was hospitalized after being stabilized by paramedics.

The extent of injuries was unknown as of press time.

MacDonald was arrested for felony DUI causing bodily injury and possession of dangerous drugs.

Bail was set at $100,000 after being booked here.


Police Files

Woman confronted a man getting into her car as she stood nearby – when she did, he swung a knife at her 

A woman called 9-1-1 from a driveway on Camel Point Drive at 3:53 Tuesday afternoon reporting that a man she didn’t know had swung a knife at her.

The caller said she had pulled into a friend’s driveway and had left her doors unlocked and the engine running while she talked with a friend about 25 feet away.

The woman told police that she had seen the man, later identified as Michael Cowan, 45, no fixed address, open a car door and begin to get inside.

LBPD Sgt. Tim Kleiser said Thursday, “The victim confronted the man and asked why he was going into the car. The man became upset and pulled out a folding knife from his waistband and swung it toward the victim. He had told the victim that he was a former Marine and military.”

The knife did not strike the woman. 

Officers did an area search located Cowan within five minutes at the Aliso Beach parking lot where he was arrested for felony assault with a deadly weapon. 

Pedestrian Safety Enforcement Operation on Tuesday 

The Laguna Beach Police Department will step up Pedestrian Safety Enforcement Operations on Dec 6, with focused enforcement on collision causing factors involving motorists and pedestrians. 

The department will be focusing on locations, since January 2012, where pedestrian involved accidents have occurred along with the violations that led to those crashes. Officers will be conducting directed enforcement at those locations looking for traffic offenses made by drivers and pedestrians alike that can lead to life-changing injuries. Special attention will be given to drivers speeding, making illegal turns, failing to stop for signs and signals, failing to yield to pedestrians in crosswalks or any other dangerous violation. 

Additionally, enforcement action will be taken against pedestrians committing violations such as crossing the street illegally or failing to yield to drivers who have the right of way. Pedestrians should cross the street only at marked crosswalks or at corners.

In 2013, California witnessed 701 pedestrian deaths accounting for over 23 percent of all roadway fatalities, much higher than the national average of 15 percent. A national study reveals that pedestrians and drivers do not obey laws and signals consistently, and many often use cell phones, text and listen to music while walking or driving. Only 60 percent of pedestrians said they expected drivers to stop when they were in crosswalks, even though they have the right-of way. 

The Laguna Beach Police Department would like to remind both drivers and pedestrians to be alert and share the roadway. Funding for this program is provided by a grant from the California Office of Traffic Safety through the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.


Police Files

Two men, woman, arrested for strong-armed robbery

Officers were called to the parking lot at Mission Hospital just after 6 o’clock last Tuesday night for a report of a robbery.

Sgt. Tim Heisler of the LBPD said the victim called 9-1-1 and told officers when they arrived on scene that he “…was walking in the parking lot and two males exited a Ford Mustang and called him a narc and snitch. The two males then struck the RP several times and took his wallet and fled in the Ford. The victim sustained swelling to his left eye and complained of pain to his head. He was taken to the hospital for his injuries.”

LBPD stopped the Mustang heading northbound on Coast Hwy near Wesley Drive. There were two male passengers and a female driver, police said.

Sgt. Kleiser said the four people knew each other and there had been contact between them a few days before the incident.

 Derek Schmalle, 21, and Timothy Solomon, 28, both from San Clemente, and Shanoa Mitchell, 27 of Capistrano Beach, were all arrested for felony robbery and felony conspiracy and held on $100,000 bail each.

Man with two dogs struck on S. Coast Hwy – one dog was killed

A man walking across S. Coast Hwy at Brooks Street with two dogs in a crosswalk was struck by a vehicle heading northbound. Police said the Laguna Beach man, 45, was crossing Coast Hwy toward the inland side when the collision occurred.

He was hospitalized with a broken leg, police said. One of the dogs died at the scene as a result of the collision and the other was injured.

Police said it did not appear that ether alcohol or drugs were a factor and the driver was not arrested on scene. 

The investigation has not been completed. 

Another eucalyptus cut – across from Montage Laguna Beach

Another eucalyptus tree was cut at the base apparently overnight Friday. It was in the parking lot almost directly across Coast Hwy from where the trees with the same cuts were discovered on Montage Laguna Beach property.

Montage told police that an arborist was uncertain about the ability of their trees to survive the cutting. An arborist will look at the tree in the parking lot in the 30800 block this week.

No further details were available.


Police Files

Five 40-yr-old eucalyptus trees cut at base of trunks in front of Montage Resort – arborist not sure if they will survive  

Click on photo for a larger image

Photo by Scott Brashier

Two of five 40-year-old eucalyptus trees cut in front of Montage Laguna Beach

Police said that Montage Laguna Beach staff estimates the value of replacing five tall eucalyptus trees cut at the base of their trunks overnight Sunday to be between $400,000 and $500,000.

The cuts were discovered and reported to the LBPD Monday morning. 

Sgt. Tim Kleiser told us, “An arborist advised it would take approximately four to six weeks to determine if the trees would recover from the damage and estimated the trees were 40-45 years old. The case has been assigned to detectives.”


Police Files

Heroin dealer arrested in Glenneyre parking structure

A patrol officer observed a man inside a parked vehicle in the Glenneyre parking structure Monday night at 7:19 and suspected the man of doing drugs.

The officer made contact with Wesley Allen Beebower, 27 of Mission Viejo, and soon placed him in custody for misdemeanor possession of drugs.

A search of his vehicle turned up about a half an ounce of heroin and 2.65 grams of methamphetamine along with a digital scale.

His charges were amended in the field to felony possession of dugs for sales and felony transportation of drugs for sales. 

Bail was set at $30,000.

Laguna cops will be out looking for DUI drivers Saturday

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

DUI Saturation Patrols will deploy on Saturday, Nov 19, between the hours of 9 p.m. and 3 a.m. in areas with high frequencies of DUI collisions and/or arrests.

$25,000 in jewelry taken from an outside storage closet

A resident in the 21700 block of Ocean Vista Drive reported Monday afternoon that 30-40 pieces of jewelry and two silver trays had been stolen from an outside storage unit. Sgt. Tim Kleiser of the LBPD said there were no signs of forced entry.

The victim told police that the last time the items were checked was on Sept 18 and estimated the loss at $25,000.  

FBI agents arrest suspect in Oct 27 Union Bank robbery

FBI agents arrested Beverly Hills resident Kyle Jason Korte, 36, in Ventura County late last week in connection with several SoCal bank robberies including the armed robbery of the Union Bank branch here at 229 Broadway.

In the Oct 27 robbery here, the suspect entered the bank with a handgun wearing a full-face mask and demanded money from a teller.

He escaped with an undisclosed sum of money.

The same man is suspected of also robbing a Chase Bank branch in Seal Beach about an hour later that Thursday afternoon. 

Sgt. Tim Kleiser of the LBPD said Laguna detectives worked with the FBI Bank Robbery Task Force and the several other agencies where Korte is the suspect.


Police Files

Newport Beach teens smash into 5 cars speeding in Mercedes Saturday

Two Newport Beach teenagers, a 17-year-old boy and a 16-year-old girl, drove a Mercedes CLK through Laguna Beach for a little over 15 minutes and collided with five vehicles along the way.

Police were called about a hit and run at Alexander Road and Ashton Drive just before ten o’clock Saturday morning. The boy was driving the black Mercedes when he struck an occupied car and drove away, Sgt. Tim Kleiser of the LBPD said Monday.

“The victim followed the Mercedes and confronted the 17-year-old male driver in the area of Rounsevel Terrace. The driver exited the car and while speaking with the victim a 16-year-old female climbed into the driver’s seat and drove away in the Mercedes. While driving away, the Mercedes collided into several parked vehicles,” Sgt. Kleiser added.

The boy then ran to the Mercedes and took over the driving as they fled the area.

Click on photo for a larger image

Photo by Janelle Hilton

Police with one of the two girls detained at the Mobil station

Laguna’s 9-1-1 dispatchers received multiple calls about the Mercedes speeding north on Coast Highway in the middle lane. Officers gave pursuit near Bluebird canyon Drive before making a felony car stop in the Mobil parking lot downtown.

A 15-year-old Irvine girl was also in the Mercedes.

All three were taken to the police station and issued citations before being released to their parents.

The charges included possession of alcohol and drugs, hit and run, and driving without a license. 

Two arrested after strong-arm robbery in Gelson’s parking lot

Two men walked up to a man in the parking lot near Gelson’s in South Laguna around 3:45 Thursday afternoon and asked if he had a cigarette. When the man began to speak with them, one of the pair began to repeatedly punch him in the face. His wallet was grabbed out of his hand and the two fled in a Mercedes with paper plates.

Officers spotted the suspect vehicle northbound on Coast Highway and made a felony car stop in the Circle K parking lot in the 800 block of Glenneyre.

Click on photo for a larger image

Photo by Mark Nelson

Police search the suspect’s Mercedes in the Circle K parking lot

Police arrested Jose Victor Zuniga, III, 30, Santa Ana and Brannon Morse Hazelrigg, 25, Newport Beach. Both were charged with felony robbery and conspiracy to commit a crime. Hazelrigg was also charged with felony battery causing bodily injury and possession of a controlled substance.


Police Files

Halloween jumper from 5th floor deck to private pool

Click on photo for a larger image

Submitted photo

Greg Carpenter, Homeowner’s Association President at Laguna Sands in the 1500 block of S. Coast Hwy provided this photo of a young man who jumped from the fifth floor deck there into the private pool below…“barely missing the edge of the pool”. The incident happened at 5:40 p.m. on Monday.

Carpenter said the HOA will prosecute him for trespassing and a police report has been made.

LBPD Sgt. Tim Kleiser said detectives are investigating the report.

A resident reportedly detained the jumper only to be hit in the face as the suspect ran away with four others who were nearby when he jumped, Carpenter said. 

Laguna Beach woman charged with DUI, hit and run

At 10:52 Sunday morning, a 9-1-1 caller told a Laguna Beach public safety dispatcher that as he was getting into his car in the 200 block of Cypress Drive, another vehicle had clipped his car and “…taken out…” the driver’s side door.

Police located the suspect vehicle and arrested Tania Jane Alexander, 57 of Laguna Beach, for DUI with a second offense and misdemeanor hit and run. 

There were no injuries according to the police log.


Police Files

Armed robbery at Union Bank on Broadway

A masked tall man wearing all dark clothing walked up to a teller inside Union Bank on Broadway on Thursday afternoon, brandished a silver revolver and demanded money.

Sgt. Tim Kleiser of the LBPD said officers responded right after the robbery but were unable to locate the suspect. “He was described as being about 6’4” wearing a black long sleeved shirt, black pants, a mask and black gloves.”

LBPD detectives and the FBI are jointly investigating the robbery.

Sgt. Kleiser said that about an hour after Union Bank was robbed, a man with a similar description robbed a bank in Seal Beach at gunpoint.

Car stop in the wee hours nets drug dealer

An officer stopped a vehicle at Third Ave and Coast Hwy early Saturday morning and it resulted in the arrest of Anaheim resident Matthew Kundrat, 20, on felony charges of possession of dangerous drugs for sales and transportation of dangerous drugs for sales.

Sgt. Tim Kleiser of the LBPD said details were slim and the case is still being investigated.


Police Files

Serial roof jumper might be wearing orange jump suit

Remember these?

Our July 18 edition

Click on photo for a larger image

Click on photo for a larger image

Click on photo for a larger image

Click on photo for a larger image

 

Photos by John Thomas

The man who jumped off the roof of the home above at Table Rock Beach in July into the ocean was arrested by LBPD Wednesday morning. Anthony Booth Armer, 28, Laguna Niguel, was charged with two misdemeanor counts of unauthorized entry of a dwelling and one of trespassing with intent to interfere with a business. 

Armer is accused of climbing over a retaining wall onto the gated property of the private residence, climbing onto the roof and jumping into the ocean near Table Rock Beach. Armer posted a video of his jump on YouTube. The Laguna Beach Police Department investigated the incident and the homeowner confirmed that Armer did not have permission to access their property. 

On Sept. 29, Armer is accused of climbing over a wall and accessing employee-only areas of the Surf and Sand Hotel. Authorities say he climbed to the fifth floor of the hotel and jumped into the gated, guest-only pool. Hotel employees reported the event to LBPD. 

On Oct. 6, at approximately 9 a.m., Armer is accused of entering Newport Towers, a private residential building on West Coast Highway in Newport Beach. He is accused of running up several flights of stairs and jumping from the building’s roof to the harbor below. Newport Towers security reported the trespassing to the Newport Beach Police Department (NBPD). 

LBPD arrested Armer Wednesday at approximately 7:45 a.m. LBPD and NBPD are investigating this case.

Man, 93, rolled over on High Drive – was still seated when fire dept. arrived   

LBPD photo

Click on photo for a larger image

 

A 93-year-old man was driving this sedan Tuesday afternoon around 4:40 when he lost control at High Drive near Linden Street and rolled over onto the car’s top. The crash remains under investigation. Sgt. Tim Kleiser of the LBPD said the man was still seat belted upside down when fire personnel arrived on scene. He sustained unspecified injuries and was taken to Mission Trauma Center.

 

Woman tried to knock down cop as she ran from Gelson’s with vodka

Police responded to Gelson’s Market in South Laguna Tuesday afternoon after a woman who had been told by the manager to stay out of the store forced her way back inside. As an officer approached her, she bolted and tried to push over the officer while holding onto a stolen bottle of vodka.

She was arrested for felony commercial burglary, battery on a peace officer and resisting arrest. The officer was not injured.


Police Files

Criminals really do return to the scene of the crime - sometimes

There’s an old adage that criminals “always return to the scene of the crime.” TV shows are filled with such scenarios.

Research has shown that murderers and arsonists frequently do return to the scene of the crime but most criminals who commit so-called crimes of opportunity usually hightail it away…but, as we learned, not always.

A resident in the 400 block of Cliff Drive found a burglar in his home Sunday morning and managed to chase him off. 

The RP then called police and said the man had broken in through a window after removing the screen.

As he was calling, the suspect came back but when he saw the RP on the phone, he took off running.

Officers located the suspect, identified as Steven Hernandez, 29 of Aliso Viejo, nearby and took him into custody. They found jewelry that belonged to the RP on him. 

Hernandez was charged with felony residential burglary with bail of $50,000.

The 9-1-1 call was received at 7:34 and Hernandez was in handcuffs at 7:45 a.m.


Police Files

Using your driver’s license to scrape drugs is not a smart idea

San Clemente resident Corey David, 29, was pulled over for speeding at S. Coast Hwy and Agate St at 4:10 last Thursday morning. When he handed the police officer his driver’s license, the officer realized that there was drug residue on the license.

David was detained and his car was searched.

8.92 grams of heroin, over a gram of methamphetamine, a small amount of cocaine and 26 hypodermic needles along with an electronic scale were found. 

He was placed under arrest for felony possession of narcotics for sales, felony transportation for sales, misdemeanor possession of a controlled substance and misdemeanor possession of drug paraphernalia.

Bail was set at $30,000. 

Woman on bicycle injured when hit by car on LCR

An unidentified Laguna Beach woman suffered injuries to her shoulder, hip and ankle when a car struck the rear wheel of her bicycle in the 20600 block of Laguna Canyon Road at 7:07 Thursday morning.

Details were limited but Sgt. Tim Kleiser of the LBPD said it did not appear that alcohol was a factor in the collision.

The crash remains under investigation, he said. 

Body found on Cliff Drive Saturday morning

A caller reported that a man appeared to be passed out in a vacant lot in the 1300 block of Cliff Drive at 11:48 Saturday morning. According to the police log, there were several liquor bottles near him.

An officer arrived on scene and realized the man was deceased.

The OC Coroner responded and nothing suspicious was found Sgt. Tim Kleiser of the LBPD said Monday.

The 52-year-old man’s name has not been released.


Police Files

Man tried to use a stolen credit card with woman’s photo on it

Paul Ogle, 60, no fixed address, was arrested Tuesday afternoon on three felony charges after a S. Coast Hwy motel told police he had tried to use a stolen credit card with a woman’s photo on it to pay for a room.

LBPD Sgt. Tim Kleiser explained, “We were told that the suspect had put the credit card back into his wallet before leaving the front lobby.

“Officers did an area search and located Ogle a short time later.”

Kleiser said Bank of America had blocked the card after fraudulent use on Sunday after the woman who had the card reported having lost it while visiting in Laguna Beach.

Ogle was taken into custody on felony charges of identify theft, burglary and grand theft and misdemeanor charges of shoplifting and defrauding an innkeeper.

He was booked and bail was set at $20,000.

Man rampages 3 blocks of S. Coast Hwy causing $5750 in damage

Playa Del Rey resident Onigwe Milindo Echikunwoke, 33, was arrested for felony vandalism after he admitted to police that he had smashed windows in businesses and cars and kicked in doors from the 1100 to 1500 block of S. Coast Hwy Wednesday morning.

Police said the rampage started at 5:37 a.m. and went on for about a half hour causing an estimated damage total of $5,750.

Police did not say if Echikunwoke gave them any explanation.


Police Files

Police respond to a minor crash – come away with auto theft suspect

A woman behind the wheel of a black Saab 900 told police officers that she had gotten inside the car then released the emergency brake and it rolled forward and struck a parked car near Carmelita and Cress Street.

This happened Friday night at about 10:30 and officers were suspicious of her overall story – especially when they learned she was not the registered owner.

After a lengthy investigation/interview, Keila Margarita Gamraoui, 31, Newport Beach, was arrested for felony vehicle theft.


Police Files

High-speed chase through town in the wee hours Tuesday saw speeds up to 100 MPH up and down Coast Hwy

An Artesia man, Neehar Thakor, 23, was arrested for DUI and reckless driving at 3:43 Tuesday morning after LBPD units chased him through town at speeds reaching 100 MPH. He was first spotted in North Laguna headed southbound then turned around and went northbound before being stopped at Reef Point.

Sgt. Tim Kleiser said an officer spotted a gray Toyota 4Runner driving recklessly at a high speed heading southbound in North Laguna at 3:37 a.m. The officer tried to catch up with the 4Runner but lost sight near Cleo Street.

Police located the SUV heading northbound from the area of Nyes Place. Kleiser said Thakor sped up at Thalia Street when police tried to make a car stop.

Thakor reached 100 MPH as he sped through town according to the police log.

At 3:41, an officer told dispatch that the SUV “…was all over the road.”

A stop was made at Reef Point at 3:43 where Thakor was arrested.


Police Files

Mississippi driver arrested for DUI after Nyes Pl crash

Photo by Christmas Enright

The white Chevy Impala in the background was driven by a drunk driver heading northbound on Coast Hwy at Nyes Place Sunday night. The driver, Maurice Eubanks, III, 19, from Mississippi, was trapped for a short time. He was taken to the hospital for treatment of a head injury and arrested for drunk driving. He was speeding, police said, when he hit the parked pickup truck and locksmith’s van.

Two charged with assault with a deadly weapon after one charged the other with a knife at ASL Wednesday

Officers responded to the Alternative Sleeping Location at 6:49 Wednesday night for a report of two men fighting. The caller said one man had a knife.

Carlos Robert Noriega, 59, no fixed address and Michael Eric Newman, 53, no fixed address, were contacted by police on scene.

Sgt. Tim Kleiser of the LBPD said Noriega charged Newman wielding a knife. “Newman took Noriega to the ground and then struck him with a chair twice,” Sgt. Kleiser said Monday.

Both men were arrested for felony assault with a deadly weapon and bail was set at $25,000 each.

Noriega had been arrested earlier in the day after he allegedly attacked another man in the street at Coast Hwy and Broadway. He was charged with simple assault.


Police Files

Five vehicle crash Friday in NoLag snarls traffic, injures two 

Photo by Mike Nelson

Two of the five vehicles involved in a crash Friday afternoon

Police said two people sustained moderate injuries and were hospitalized late Friday afternoon as the result of a five-vehicle rear end crash in the 1200 block of N. Coast Hwy.

N. Coast Hwy was closed at Chiquita Street for about an hour as police made their investigation and firefighters cleaned up spilled gas and other chemicals.

No other details were available at press time.

Click on photo for a larger image

Photo by Jose Delgado

Firefighters sweep up absorbent material used to remove spilled chemicals from the surface of N. Coast Hwy Friday afternoon. A police Sgt. offered assistance.

 

Woman refuses to leave ER, defrauds a restaurant – tries, but fails same thing at hotel – arrested 3 times

Elaine J. Davault, 61, no fixed address, was arrested three times late last week for trespassing and defrauding an innkeeper. 

Police said she ordered food and ate in a restaurant in the 1800 block of S. Coast Hwy and then informed the manager that she was unable to pay her bill. Police were called and she was arrested.

Earlier Friday, Davault attempted to charge items to rooms that she was not staying in at Hotel Laguna. Officers responded and she refused to leave and was soon arrested.

The night before, she was arrested for trespassing at Mission Hospital’s ER after she refused to leave after a doctor had discharged her.


Police Files

This little piggy went for a ride in a police car

We all know the story of the three little pigs – well; this is about another pig.

A patrol unit was waved down at 9:02 Tuesday night at Brooks and Pedro in South Laguna – either by or for a loose pig…the log wasn’t perfectly clear.

A stray potbelly pig was running loose on Brooks and managed to keep some distance from the pursing LBPD officers for over ten minutes before being corralled.

Click on photo for a larger image

Photo courtesy LBPD

The 80-pound pig was place in the back seat of a patrol unit and taken to the animal shelter for safekeeping.

Three-car crash involving drunk driver injures pregnant woman

A pregnant woman sustained unspecified injuries Monday afternoon in the 1500 block of S. Coast Hwy when the vehicle she was riding in rear-ended another vehicle that subsequently hit a third. The crash happened at 4:11 p.m.

According to police, Cesar Jonathan Enriquez-Lopez, 25, Laguna Hills, the driver of the car she was in, was determined to be at fault and was also driving under the influence of alcohol.

He was arrested for felony DUI with bail set at $100,000.


Police Files

Knocking on the door of a home where there is a court restraining order against you with your pocket full of drugs isn’t a good thing to do

Ashton Jon Riley, 29, Huntington Beach, pounded on a door in the 300 block of Oak Street at 9:36 last Friday night. It was a door he was prohibited from coming close to by a court issued restraining order.

Police were called and soon had Riley detained as they sorted though things and verified that the restraining order was in effect.

Riley was arrested first for an outstanding Central Court warrant for vandalism and for intentional violation of a court order when its status was confirmed. 

A subsequent search turned up four and a half grams of methamphetamine and over four grams of marijuana leading to a drug possession charge.


Police Files

Capo Beach man arrested for robbery, 3 other felonies at Montage 

Montage Laguna Beach security saw two men attempting to break into vehicles in the valet lot at 6:19 Monday night. 

LBPD Sgt. Tim Kleiser said security was able to detain one man, Capistrano Beach resident Michael Velazquez, 21, on the resort property while the second suspect was last seen running across Coast Hwy toward Gelson’s Market. 

Velazquez struggled with the security officers in an unsuccessful attempt to get out of their custody as police responded. 

According to the police log, Montage security set up surveillance to watch store exits and entrances but the second suspect was never located.

Velazquez was detained and placed under arrest for a $2500 warrant out of Harbor Court for resisting arrest.

Police and Montage security reviewed surveillance tape of the two suspects breaking into vehicles and taking items and also saw that Velazquez attempted to steal at least one of the cars.

The result of those tapes led police to hold Velazquez on a charge of robbery with bail of $100,000 as well as attempted vehicle theft, burglary and felony threats to do harm to a potential witness.


Police Files

Man grabbed backpack from bus rider and took off running – police nabbed the suspect a half-hour later

A 9-1-1 caller reported to police that his backpack containing $1800 had been grabbed out of his hands as he exited a Laguna Beach transit bus on S. Coast Hwy Friday at 6:14 p.m. He said the man that took it just came up, took the backpack and ran off east on a side street.

The victim described the suspect as having dark hair and wearing a maroon shirt.

As officers were discussing the man’s description, a woman told them she had just seen a man with a maroon shirt a couple of block east of the location.

Officers did an immediate area search and located the possible suspect in the 500 block of Flora Street about 30 minutes after the 9-1-1 call. 

The victim was taken to the location and identified the suspect. His money was recovered but the backpack was missing, Sgt. Tim Kleiser of the LBPD said.

 Anthony Louis Ulrich, 24, San Juan Capistrano, was arrested for felony grand theft.


Police Files

House rented through Airbnb – safe missing $192,000

Laguna Beach PD detectives are investigating a theft report from last Thursday in the 2700 block of S. Coast Hwy.

Sgt. Tim Kleiser said the homeowner had rented on Airbnb for three days to a known individual.

“The victim checked on the home and noticed that a safe had been accessed,” Sgt. Kleiser said. “Cash and gold coins totaling $192,000 were missing.”

Police did not release any further details.

Store employee follows suspect to retrieve $445 sunglasses

An employee of a retail store in the 200 block of Ocean Avenue saw a man walk out of the store after pilfering sunglasses valued at $445. The employee followed the suspect to a black Honda Fit parked on Coast Hwy.

The employee tried to stop the suspect before he entered the car.

Sgt. Tim Kleiser of the LBPD said, “After a brief struggle, the suspect threw the sunglasses into the air and drove away.”

According to the police log, the RP said the Honda had “…lots of…items inside…” 

The suspect was described as being about 40 with graying hair and a mustache.


Police Files

Emerald Bay resident pleads guilty for causing the death of bicyclist John Colvin on June 17, 2014 near Emerald Bay

Dylan Thomas Rand-Luby, 21, Emerald Bay, pleaded guilty to one count of felony hit and run with injury and one count of misdemeanor manslaughter Monday afternoon. He was sentenced to one year in jail and three years of formal probation. 

Rand-Luby was accused of driving a 2005 Toyota Prius northbound on North Coast Highway in the Emerald Bay area. He allegedly veered out of his lane and struck 55-year-old Laguna Beach resident John Colvin as he rode his bicycle northbound in the bike lane adjacent to Coast Highway.

After the collision, Rand-Luby failed to stop to render aid and continued driving northbound. His front windshield was shattered and witnesses said he had to lean out the driver’s side window in order to see the roadway ahead. 

Two witnesses followed the Toyota Prius until Rand-Luby finally pulled over in the El Morro School parking lot and was confronted by them. One detained Rand-Luby while a second called 911. 

After an extremely thorough and exhaustive investigation into the accident, Laguna Beach Traffic Investigators submitted the case to the District Attorney’s Office seeking criminal charges against Dylan Rand-Luby. 

Prior traffic offenses

StuNews did a check of court records after he had been charged in Feb 2015 and found that Rand-Luby was ticketed in Oct of 2012 for using a cell phone while driving; issued a citation in July of 2013 for texting while driving and in April, 2013, for running a red light. He attended traffic school for the latter charge and was released from that obligation on June 13, 2014 – four days before the fatal collision with the bicyclist.

 

Homeless man arrested for robbery of a bike at Main Beach

Police responded to a report of a fight between two men on the cobblestones at Main Beach at 3:30 last Wednesday afternoon. On scene, one man was still there and told officers that a man he didn’t know came up to him as he rode his bike and challenged him to a fight.

The victim said the suspect then pushed him down causing him to fall off of his bike then the other man rode away on the bicycle.

Police did an area search and according to Sgt. Tim Kleiser, Shawn Stover, 38, no fixed address, and the stolen bicycle were located at the Broadway Bus Depot.

Stover was arrested for felony robbery and bail was set at $100,000. 

 

Two more stolen car arrests made in town

Laguna Beach police stopped two more stolen cars in town over the weekend and arrested two people on felony charges.

At 3:42 Saturday morning, a patrol officer stopped a white Kia Optima at N. Coast Hwy and Aster St for a traffic violation.

Sgt. Tim Kleiser of the LBPD said the driver made statements that led the officer to suspect that the Kia had been stolen. The registered owner was contacted and it in fact had been stolen earlier in South Laguna.

Kevin Patrick Sheehan, 19, Lakewood was arrested for felony vehicle theft.

Early Sunday morning, an officer spotted a stolen 2017 Hyundai Elantra that had been reported stolen from Hertz on Aug 19 heading into town at 2:42. Sufficient units were able to make a felony car stop at Canyon Acres and Laguna Canyon Road.

Rosalinda Romero, 38, Hemet, was arrested on charges of felony possession of a stolen vehicle, giving false information to an officer misdemeanor possession of drugs.

She was also held for two felony warrants – one from Los Angeles and the other from Riverside with total bail of $45,000 on the warrants. 


Police Files

Drunk driver takes out traffic signal, parking meter at 7:59 a.m.

Click on photo for a larger image

Photo by Torryn Nunyo

Police and fire responded to S. Coast Hwy and Cleo St at 7:59 a.m. for a traffic crash. The SUV above took out a traffic signal pole. Inside the SUV, police found a 12-pack of beer and a city parking meter that came through the hole in the passenger side of the windshield after it had been struck as well.

Sean Hoyland, 49 of Irvine, was arrested for DUI. 

Sgt. Tim Kleiser said Hoyland was taken to hospital for a sore shoulder. 

Crash closed canyon from 7:30 to mid-afternoon yesterday

Police said a single car crash into a pole in the 2600 block of Laguna canyon Road dislodged power lines and closed traffic in both directions from about 7:30 Thursday morning until SC Edison made repairs at mid-afternoon.

The driver was not injured, police said.

Line up your designated driver – DUI checkpoint Saturday night

The LBPD will be conducting a DUI/Driver’s License Checkpoint on Aug 20 at an undisclosed location within the city limits. The Saturday checkpoint will be operational between the hours of 8 p.m. to 3 a.m.

The deterrent effect of DUI checkpoints is a proven resource in reducing the number of persons killed and injured in alcohol or drug involved crashes. Research shows that crashes involving an impaired driver can be reduced by up to 20 percent when well-publicized DUI checkpoints and proactive DUI patrols are conducted routinely. 

In California, this deadly crime led to 867 deaths and over 23,000 serious injuries in 2013 because someone failed to designate a sober driver. 

Nationally, the latest data shows over 10,000 were killed by an impaired driver.

Officers will be looking for signs of alcohol and/or drug impairment with officers checking drivers for proper licensing, delaying motorists only momentarily.


Police Files

Suspect fled police – careened off 11 cars on Coast Hwy

On Saturday, Laguna police investigated a report of credit card fraud reported by an out of state cardholder who told them about $1,000 had been charged at a North Laguna hotel. The victim said he had spoken with the front desk and was told that the person who had charged the room was there now.

Officers spoke with the front desk and knocked on the door at about 12:45. Four people inside ran out of the room onto the second floor balcony when the saw the cops. Two were detained and two others, a man and a woman, jumped to the ground, Sgt. Tim Kleiser said Monday. They managed to get away as the officers dealt with the two who had been detained on the balcony.

He added, “A male and female were detained in the room and the female, Lauren Rivero, 20, from Anaheim, had an outstanding $3,000 warrant for theft from Los Angeles. She was arrested for the warrant.”

As the officers were leaving the hotel at about 2:09 p.m., a hotel employee told them that the woman who had rented the room was in a tan SUV outside. Officers, on foot, managed to get to her before she drove away only to have her take off.

An area search was launched in North Laguna and a patrol unit spotted the tan Cadillac Escalade heading south on Coast Highway near Aster Street.

Sgt. Kleiser provided the following: 

Click on photo for a larger image

Photo by Dennis Rooney

This is one of the first five vehicles struck north of Broadway by the Cadillac Escalade Saturday afternoon. Note the wheel in the foreground, which fell off the Escalade. The driver continued on Coast Hwy before turning onto Park Ave after crashing into five more vehicles traveling in both directions on Coast Hwy.

“The officers attempted to stop the SUV, but it immediately drove over into the opposing lanes of traffic and collided with two vehicles in the 300 block of N. Coast Highway. The Escalade continued south on Coast Highway and struck three more vehicles north of Broadway in heavy traffic. Two people, an adult female and female child, complained of pain as a result of that collision. 

“The Escalade continued south and collided with five other vehicles in the 100 and 200 blocks of South Coast Highway. She then turned east on the 200 block of Park Avenue and struck a parked vehicle there. The car finally stopped in the library parking lot after it ran into a cement pillar. 

Click on photo for a larger image

Photo by Dennis Rooney

Photo by Kelly Viszolay

“The driver fled on foot and was not located. Two passengers in the car were detained and later released.” 

Detectives are working on identifying and locating the driver.

We hope to have added details in our Friday edition.   

Body discovered on Heisler walkway Sunday morning

A person walking in Heisler Park at 6:21 Sunday morning called 9-1-1 reporting that a man was lying on the walkway near the picnic tables.

Police and fire units responded and discovered that a man was deceased from an apparent self-inflicted gunshot wound.

The OC Coroner will perform and autopsy and release the man’s name later this week.

Sgt. Tim Kleiser of the LBPD said the man was 78 and a Laguna Beach resident. 


Police Files

$100,000 in losses from burglarized SoLag home 

Details are few at this time, but a homeowner who had been away for the past two weeks returned to find the home in the 31100 block of Aliso Circle had been burglarized. Police received the call at 11:33 a.m. this past Tuesday.

The police log indicated that the victim spoke of missing collectibles, electronics, furniture and miscellaneous items.

The OC Sheriff Department’s CSI team responded to the scene Tuesday.

Sgt. Tim Kleiser of the LBPD said the owner’s preliminary estimate of the losses was $100,000.

Detectives are investigating.


Police Files

LBPD motor officer injured by a passing motorcycle

A Laguna Beach Police motor officer suffered a dislocated arm Sunday night on Thalia Street near Wendt Terrace when a passing motorcyclist the officer was signaling to stop struck his outstretched arm. 

The motorcycle rider was among a group of an estimated 25 bikers that callers had complained about around 8 p.m. for “…revving their engines and speeding…” in the area of Alta Laguna Park in Top of the World.

The motor officer and other LBPD officers were responding to the location when the motor officer encountered five motorcycles near Thalia and Wendt and attempted to detain them. 

After the motor officer was hit, a patrol unit pursued the offending motorcycles and located one of the riders in the 900 block of S. Coast Hwy. Two of the motorcycles had collided on Thalia as they rode side-by-side, according to police.

The second rider was taken into custody inside a nearby restaurant after a 9-1-1 caller reported that a man with a helmet and motorcycle gear was talking on his cell phone, “…yelling, limping, yelling into the phone in a panic…” 

An officer detained him at the restaurant within a minute of that 9-1-1 call.

That man was identified as Luis Antonio Gonzalez, 30, Pico Rivera. The first rider held was Victor Manuel Velazquez, 26, Whittier. Both men were arrested for felony DUI, disobeying a police officer and hit and run, Sgt. Tim Kleiser of the LBPD, said.

The extent the officer’s injuries were not immediately disclosed. 


Police Files

Intoxicated woman, 27, grabbed officer’s wrist trying to pull him down

Officers made contact with two women and a man on Crescent Bay Beach at 9:33 last Friday night after seeing them with a bottle of vodka.

While the officers were speaking to the trio, one of the women, 27-year-old Franchesca Jennie Anderson of Alhambra, who appeared to be intoxicated to the officers, began filming them and soon began placing the camera within inches of one officer’s face.

Sgt. Tim Kleiser of the LBPD said, “The officer backed up a number of times to avoid having the camera in his face and told her not to do it any longer. When she refused his direction to keep the camera a reasonable distance from his face, the officer reached out to take the camera and hand it to the woman’s husband.’

Sgt. Kleiser added, “Anderson grabbed the officer’s wrist and attempted to pull him to the ground. More officers arrived to assist and arrested her.”

Anderson was arrested for battery on a peace officer and for being drunk in public.


Police Files

Two men and a woman arrested on total of 19 charges including stealing a vehicle 

A car stop on Goff St at a quarter before midnight last Saturday turned out to be a lot more than the vehicle code violation that attracted an officer’s initial attention.

Vanessa Wilson, 24, Colton, Justin Kimbro, 25, San Bernardino and Anthony Flores, 22, also from San Bernardino, were arrested for 19 charges.

Officers learned post haste that the vehicle had been reported stolen on Friday in Riverside and began treating the incident as a crime scene.

Wilson and Kimbro were both charged with felony vehicle theft and possession of a controlled substance when methamphetamine was located. Wilson also was charged with possession of unspecified stolen property. Flores was held for the meth charge.

In addition to the fresh charges above, all three had warrants.

Wilson had eight outstanding warrants including a no bail warrant out of Pasadena for two counts of ID theft. The other seven were from San Bernardino containing charges of grand theft, drug possession, shoplifting and possession of stolen property. The total bail on those warrants was $105,000.

Flores had warrants with charges of drug possession and shoplifting. His total bail was set at $50,000.

Kimbro had three San Bernardino warrants, each with two charges: one for grand theft and possession of stolen property, one for grand theft and petty theft and the third for being under the influence of a controlled substance and utility theft. Total bail: $70K.

All three were booked here and taken to county jail.


Police Files

Homeless man tries to throw rocks and does spit in officer’s face

Joseph Robert Kirkpatrick, 51, no fixed address, was arrested on three felony charges Tuesday afternoon after officers awakened him from trespassing and sleeping in an underground parking lot in the 900 block of Glenneyre.

Sgt. Tim Kleiser of the LBPD said that when officers made contact, “Kirkpatrick was agitated and threatened to throw some nearby rocks at the officers. During the conversation, he sat up quickly and grabbed several rocks. The officers were able to quickly grab onto his arms to prevent him from throwing the rocks at them.

  “As the officers were trying to detain him, he spat directly in one of the officer’s face.” Police placed a spit mask on Kirkpatrick’s face as soon as he was handcuffed.

Kirkpatrick was charged with felony resisting arrest, felony assault on a police officer and felony bringing a controlled substance into a jail. Sgt. Kleiser said he had methamphetamine, which was found during his booking at the city jail.

Two arrested at campsite ended up in greater trouble

LBPD officers contacted Jose Enrique Faulmendoza, 57, no fixed address and Dawn Purdy Kuehl, 58, no fixed address at a campsite they shared near the animal shelter on Laguna Canyon Road at 7:28 Tuesday morning.

Kuehl initially gave a false name to the officers leading to an arrest for providing false information. She also had marijuana and methamphetamine among her belongings and was charged with misdemeanor possession of a controlled substance.

During her booking, another quantity of methamphetamine on her, which led to a felony bringing a controlled substance into a jail charge.

 Faulmendoza also gave a false ID to officers and was charged with providing false information. Wants and warrants were checked and he was held on a no bail warrant from Los Angeles.


Police Files

Burglary victim sees suspect – wasn’t easy, but cops nabbed him

Steven Edward Cain, 49, no fixed address out of Oklahoma, was arrested for burglary, possession of stolen property and resisting arrest last Thursday night after police received a call from a burglary victim last weekend.

The victim called police at 9:29 p.m. after spotting a suspect the RP had caught on a surveillance camera when his garage was burglarized on June 25. $300 in cash had been taken from a wallet inside the RP’s unlocked vehicle inside the garage.

Police responded to a parking lot in the 31500 block of Coast Hwy where they encountered and detained the possible suspect, Sgt. Tim Kleiser of the LBPD said.

“As they were in the process of investigating the incident, at about 10 o’clock, Cain fled on foot to Table Rock Beach. Other officers responded along with the OCSD’s airship to the area and eventually found him hiding on the rocks. Officers located his car nearby and found several stolen items inside,” Sgt. Kleiser added.

Cain was taken into custody at gunpoint at 10:24.

Copter used to hoist stranded victim from rocks at Thousand Steps

Fire and police responded to Thousand Steps Beach at 7:47 Saturday morning to assist two young women who had become stranded on the rocks offshore. 

Sgt. Tim Kleiser of the LBPD said, “Due to difficulty in extracting one patient from the rocks, OCSD’s helicopter/rescue team responded and was able to rope hoist the victim from the rocks.” She was taken to hospital with minor injuries, authorities said.

The other, uninjured, victim was assisted to shore by lifeguards.

Page 1 of 3