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Incident Reports

Tuesday, June 5

Laguna Canyon Road | 600 Block | DUI

9:46 p.m. A 29-year-old woman from Texas was arrested on suspicion of DUI. Bail was set at $2,500.

Cliff Drive | 100 Block | Traffic Collision

8:19 p.m. A man on a bike was run off the road by a silver or grey vehicle. The man was in need of medical aid, and was seen in a seated position at the time when officers responded to the scene.

Forest Avenue | 500 Block | Information Only

3:03 a.m. The phone lines to the police department were reported to have gone down at around 3:03 a.m. Police Dispatch was unable to dial out or receive calls on the non-emergency lines during this time period. A ticket was said to have been opened at approximately 3:29 a.m. At 3:36 a.m., it was reported that the downed phone lines were back up.

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

2:31 a.m. Anita Marie Novak, 39, Laguna Beach, and Allan Neville Friat, 39, Laguna Beach, were arrested for being in possession of a controlled substance (bail was set at $500 each), and for being possession of drug paraphernalia (bail was set at $500 each).

Reef Point Drive & Coast Hwy | Possession of a Controlled Substance

1:22 a.m. Vy Cao Kieu Nguyen, 22, Westminster, was arrested for being in possession of a controlled substance. Bail was set at $500.

Monday, June 4

S. Coast Hwy | 300 Block | Citizen Contact

6:01 p.m. A 25-year-old woman from Phelan was arrested for being drunk in public. Bail was set at $500.

S. Coast Hwy | 100 Block | Drunk in Public

12:12 p.m. A 65-year-old man from Chino Hills was arrested for being drunk in public. Bail was set at $500.

Beach Street & Ocean Avenue | DUI

2:50 a.m. A 31-year-old woman from Yorba Linda was arrested on suspicion of DUI. Bail was set at $2,500. 

Beach Street & Broadway Street | DUI

2:24 a.m. A 20-year-old woman from Anaheim was arrested on suspicion of DUI. Bail was set at $2,500.

Laguna Canyon Road | 900 Block | Traffic Stop

1:11 a.m. A 25-year-old woman from Pasadena was arrested on suspicion of DUI. Bail was set at $2,500.

S. Coast Hwy | 1100 Block | Warrant

12:11 a.m. Argos Aaron Carvajal, 24, Laguna Niguel, was arrested on a Harbor Court warrant. Bail was set at $2,500.

Sunday, June 3

Saint Anns Drive & Coast Hwy | Warrant

11:20 p.m. Jeffrey Joseph Noon, 64, Laguna Beach, was arrested on two West Court warrants. Bail was set at $500 for one warrant, and $750 for the other.

S. Coast Hwy | 1400 Block | Drunk in Public

9:07 p.m. A 29-year-old man from Mission Viejo was arrested for being drunk in public. Bail was set at $500.

Beach Street & Broadway Street | DUI

7:36 p.m. A 65-year-old man from Chino Hills was arrested on suspicion of DUI. Bail was set at $2,500.

Temple Hills Drive | 2500 Block | DUI, Traffic Collision

6:07 p.m. A 42-year-old man from Laguna Niguel was arrested on suspicion of DUI. Bail was set at $2,500.

Broadway Street | 200 Block | Drunk in Public

4:31 p.m. A 64-year-old man from Laguna Beach was arrested for being drunk in public. Bail was set at $500.

Cliff Drive | 100 Block | Property Found

3:23 p.m. The RP, the manager for the property at the location, stated that they found heroin paraphernalia in the elevator, including a needle and a rubber band. 

Cleo Street & Glenneyre Street | DUI, Child Endangerment

2:14 a.m. Brandon Fletcher, 19, Rancho Santa Margarita, was arrested on suspicion of DUI (bail was set at $2,500), as well as for child endangerment (bail was set at $100,000).

S. Coast Hwy | 200 Block | DUI

1:25 a.m. A 27-year-old man from Tustin, as well as a 24-year-old woman from Tustin, were arrested on suspicion of DUI. Bail was set at $2,500 for each individual.


Police Files

Rollover Range Rover, careening drunk driver hits Audi, flipping on impact 

On Wednesday, June 6 at 9:30 p.m., LBPD police and fire personnel responded to South Coast Highway at Mountain Street for the report of a rollover vehicle collision. Emergency personnel arrived and found that a Range Rover, which had been traveling southbound on Coast Highway, had struck an unoccupied parked Audi.

“The impact from the collision caused the Range Rover to flip onto its side. The driver of the Range Rover was extracted from the car,” LBPD Spokesperson PIO Sgt Jim Cota said. “She was not injured but was visibly intoxicated.”

The inebriated 51-year-old woman, a Laguna Beach resident, was charged with her first DUI. Because of the collision both southbound lanes of South Coast Highway were closed, and traffic was diverted to Glenneyre Street for one hour, according to LBPD. Bail was set at $2,500.

Police Files Crash

Click on photo for a larger image

Courtesy of LBPD Facebook Page

Local intoxicated 51-year-old woman is arrested for DUI when she rolls over her Range Rover in a collision with a parked Audi

Egg on his face, adult male arrested on outstanding warrant after allegedly throwing eggs at cars

On Monday, June 4 at 1:54 a.m. at the 200 Block of Oak Street, a local man was busted by local LBPD after reports that he and his buddies, all adult males, were throwing eggs at vehicles. What sounds to be reminiscent of a coming of age movie by filmmaker John Hughes, his story was not so “Pretty in Pink.” 

Rather Cory Robert Richins, 31, of Laguna Beach, was more the lead in the male version of “Orange is the New Black” as two of his co-stars went free, for egging and pegging cars on Anita Street and Glenneyre Street, while Richins was arrested on an outstanding OC warrant. Bail was set at $5,000.

Fire Files

LBFD quickly extinguishes several brush fires near Laguna Canyon Road Wednesday

Less than five days after the Aliso Canyon fire started, LBFD sprang to action and quickly put out several brush fires near Laguna Canyon Road Wednesday.

LBFD, LBPD, and OCFA all received the call at 5 p.m. on Wednesday of multiple spot fires burning in heavy brush. 

LBPD Spokesperson PIO Sgt Jim Cota said, “We received reports of a vegetation fire, burning in heavy brush, on NB Laguna Canyon Road between the 73 and 133. There was no immediate threat to the city.”

Police Files New Fires

Click on photo for a larger image

Courtesy of LBPD Facebook Page

Several fires ignited near NB Laguna Canyon Road Wednesday

OCFA reported a 1-acre blaze with multiple spot fires, and that no structures were being threatened. At 5:28 p.m., they reported three separate fires in the area.

“Laguna Fire had two helicopters and ground crews doing an excellent job at slowing down the fire with a dozer working to cut a containment line around heavy brush,” according to OCFA PIO.

By 5:50 p.m. forward progress had been stopped for all three fires and fixed wing aircraft was cancelled and the fires were put out by 6:15 p.m. 

“Fire crews remained on scene for hotspots and assessment of the area,” Sgt Cota said.

Laguna Canyon Road was closed between Lake Forest Drive and El Toro Road while firefighters battled the blaze. Both directions of Laguna Canyon Road were open by 8:15 p.m.

According to OCFA, “It is not yet clear what started the fires.” OCFA investigators remained on scene, researching the cause.

Friday is the goal for 100% containment of Aliso Fire

LBPD Spokesperson PIO Sgt Jim Cota had good news about the Aliso Canyon Fire being close to completely contained on Thursday.

 “The containment remains at 85 percent and is expected to be at 90 percent by 6 p.m. today,” Sgt Cota said. “There are currently 91 firefighters assigned to the area to finish the job till they reach 100 percent containment. The goal is to be finished by Friday afternoon.”

On Twitter Thursday, OCFA PIO reported the recent incorporation of new remote cameras to assist in discovering potential fires in rural areas that could have a lengthy response time. “The three allows us to pinpoint an area and send help.” The cameras captured a time-lapsed video before at the site of the Aliso Canyon fires before it started.

Police Files Mop Up Efforts

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Courtesy of OCFA PIO Twitter Page

OCFA mop up efforts for the Aliso Canyon fire to mitigate hot spots

Fire investigators continue to investigate the burn and the surrounding area to determine the cause. The public is being asked to assist if they have any information to help identify the cause of the fire. 

“Anyone with information or any video or photographs taken at the early stages of the fire are asked to contact 1-800-222-TIPS (8477),” urges OCFA PIO.


Fire Files

Fire burns 175 acres of wilderness, injures 3 firefighters, and prompts evacuations…but thanks to our fire and emergency personnel, we are all safe

LBFD took quick actions to safeguard Laguna Beach residents after a fire broke out in Aliso & Wood Canyons Wilderness Park, right in our backyard, on Saturday afternoon.

“We were notified, and our crews went to the Top of the World and began to set up in case the fire extended to the homes,” Laguna Beach Fire Chief Mike Garcia said. “They were joined by other companies due to the threat, and we had approximately 15 Engine companies in our neighborhood.

Fire Files City of Aliso Viejo

Click on photo for a larger image

Courtesy of City of Aliso Viejo

Aliso Fire raging on Saturday late afternoon

By 3:56 p.m. on Saturday, Laguna Beach Fire Department ordered immediate evacuation of approximately 1,500 Laguna Beach residents in the Top of the World and Old Top of the World areas due to fire danger. 

“With our Fire Department’s deep knowledge of the drainage patterns, canyon topography and wind behaviors in the fire area we quickly identified homes that could be in the path of fire and took immediate action to get those residents out,” said Chief Garcia.

The City set up a temporary shelter for displaced residents at the Susi Q Community Center where some residents stayed overnight Saturday. Pets were allowed as well. 

 “The City sincerely wants to thank all of the residents who evacuated their homes for their cooperation during the Aliso Fire emergency,” said Laguna Beach City Manager John Pietig. “As one of the residents evacuated this weekend, I know it is not easy to pick up and leave your home at a moment’s notice, not knowing when you’ll be able to return. We want to thank everyone who evacuated for their diligence and patience.”

According to Thanh Nguyen, public information officer of the Orange County Incident Management Team, the fire, which originated in Aliso & Wood Canyons Wilderness Park, spread quickly from one acre to 175 acres due to winds, hillside pitch and drought conditions.

Fire Files Scott Burn

Click on photo for a larger image

Photo by Scott Brashier

The Aliso Fire burned 175 acres of wilderness

“The weather pattern that we’ve had for the past several days – in the morning it’s fairly calm and in the afternoons it picks up – that’s what got this fire going. That in combination with the topography. You have steep hillsides. If the fire starts at the bottom, the heat moves upward, so that when the fire actually gets to it (the base of the hillside), it takes off really easily. And then, the drought situation doesn’t help with the fuel moisture so that vegetation lights up pretty fast.”

The cause of the fire is currently under investigation.

“At this time our investigators are still out at the scene and we don’t have a conclusive cause (of the fire) yet. We’re asking for the public’s assistance if they were in or around the area at the time the fire started, to contact the Tip Line at 1.800.222.TIPS (8477),” said Nguyen.

Thankfully, no structures were lost, although the fire did come extremely close to Soka University, said Nguyen. “With firefighters on the scene fairly quickly, they were able to stop the forward progression.”

Fire Files Scott Plane

Click on photo for a larger image

Photo by Scott Brashier

Two air tankers circled the fire with retardant all day Saturday, followed by helicopters attacking the middle with water drops

However, three firefighters suffered injuries. “One was taken off the line, but did not go to the hospital. The second one did go to the hospital to be evaluated – their injuries were minor. The third one on Monday was out on the line – I don’t know the extent of that person’s injury either, however, he was airlifted to the hospital via OCFA helicopter,” said Nguyen.

As of Monday, according to Chief Garcia, there are currently 525 firefighters still assigned to the fire, which on Tuesday, June 5 at 7:45 a.m., was 75 percent contained after burning 175 acres. The Orange County Fire Authority and Orange County Parks, 85 engines, two helicopters, four bulldozers and nine hand crews have been working to contain the fire, rotating shifts in 24-hour increments.

“The response to the Aliso Fire was a well-coordinated partnership between the Laguna Beach Fire Department, Orange County Fire Authority, CalFire, many assisting local municipalities and all Laguna Beach City Departments,” Garcia said. “I want to especially thank the Laguna Beach Police Department for helping evacuate people to safety, and also thank our affected residents who remained calm and refused to panic.”

Fire Files Mike Jarnot OCFA

Click on photo for a larger image

Courtesy of Mike Jarnot OCFA

OCFA was integral in fighting the Aliso Woods Canyon Fire

It is unknown at this time how much wildlife was lost.

Hallie Jones, Executive Director of Laguna Canyon Foundation, said, “Fire is a natural part of the wilderness ecosystems, and while the immediate habitat impacts are severe, the park will recover.

“Here at Laguna Canyon Foundation, we’re so grateful to our park rangers and first responders for protecting the homes and people.”

She said the best thing the community can do is to stay away from the park, which will be closed until further notice while the fire crews extinguish any last hot spots or smoldering brush.

“Let the rangers do their job and let the land heal. Footprints and bike tracks will just cause more damage,” Jones said.

Once the park opens, LCF volunteers will work with OC Parks to keep people out of the burned area and educate visitors.

Longtime Laguna TOW resident Sande Werthe evacuated “after the search lady came running by” and she “received a phone call from the police department to evacuate”, she said. It was her 80th birthday on Sunday.

After she was evacuated, Werthe went to Laguna Presbyterian Church and listened as to the choir as they rehearsed for an upcoming concert. Pastor Jerry Tankersley and his wife were evacuated too since they live nearby.

Fire Files City of Laguna Beach

Click on photo for larger image

Courtesy of City of Laguna Beach

The aftermath of the fire, looking out from Top of the World

 “The Susi Q really did a wonderful job of organizing. I was so impressed. I finally got back to my place at 2:30 p.m. and went to a friend’s house who made a Mexican dinner for my birthday. After that I finally got to put my feet up and relax,” Werthe said. 

She was also in the same neighborhood during the fire in ‘93 for the fire and was forced to evacuate.

“My house was in escrow and my mom lived alone nearby. We were concerned we’d lose both houses. I kept calling my answering machine and every time it picked up I thought everything was still fine,” Werthe said. “I did the same thing this time and sang happy birthday to myself. It’s a birthday I will never forget.” 

She, like other community members, lauded the hard working personnel behind the evacuations.

“I can’t stress enough how wonderful the City was and the great job the people at the Susi Q did checking people in and making them feel comfortable, Werthe said. “It’s one way to meet the neighbors, but definitely not the best way.”

Denis Cambruzzi, a Laguna Beach resident since the ‘80s was here during the 1993 fire on Mountain View Drive. 

“We were fortunate to keep ours,” he said referring to his and his wife’s home on Mountain View Drive,” Cambruzzi said.

There was no comparison between the fear he felt this time around and during the ’93 fire, he said.

“That one was scary, during fire season and propelled by the dry hot winds but, began much further away. The winds blew smoke in our direction all day and by evening the fire followed,” Cambruzzi said.

This one began very close and only got scary for about an hour, he said.

“And then these pilots put it down. Hitting it from all sides with fire retardant and water from planes and helicopters. They flew into and thankfully out of that canyon countless times. Brown smoke followed by the victorious white plumes,” Cambruzzi said. “Truly amazing. The firefighters on the ground were also braving the inferno hand to hand with shovels, axes, and chain saws.”

Jean Keyes from deck at Bluebird Canyon

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Photo by Jean Keyes

The path of one airplane, as seen from Jean Keyes’ home in Bluebird Canyon

Sawdust artist September McGee was walking in the park when she learned that they were being evacuated on Saturday.

“I was looking at the birds in the trees and the sky looked clear,” she said. 

It didn’t look as clear on the other side.

“I live half way down Bern Street and they were ready for us to roll. Then they went back up the hill and backed off. So luckily, we didn’t have to leave. But it’s important to give kudos for everyone involved, they did a very good job,” McGee said. “The evacuations were very organized.”

“I knew that with the birds still singing in the trees that it’s going to be fine. It’s a good sign. After all, they know more than we do,” Mc Gee added.

See more photos from the scene by staff photographer Scott Brashier

Click on photos for larger images 


Incident Reports

Tuesday, May 29

Coast Hwy | 31100 Block | Possession of a Controlled Substance, Possession of Drug Paraphernalia, Being Under the Influence of a Controlled Substance

10:45 p.m. Jordan Tiffany Yater, 21, San Juan Capistrano, was arrested for being in possession of a controlled substance (bail set at 500), for being in possession of drug paraphernalia (bail set at $500), and for being under the influence of a controlled substance (bail set at $1,000). 

Jason Patrick Greiwe, 20, Laguna Beach, was arrested for being in possession of drug paraphernalia (bail set at $500), and for being in possession of a controlled substance (bail set at $500).

S. Coast Hwy | 200 Block | Vandalism

10:18 p.m. The front window of a gray Toyota Tacoma was found to be smashed by a brick. There were no known suspects at the time.

Pearl Street & S. Coast Hwy | 

9:18 p.m. Jose Rodriguez, 30, Laguna Niguel, was arrested for being in possession of drug paraphernalia. Bail was set at $500.

Coast Hwy| 31700 Block | Drunk in Public

6:25 p.m. A 46-year-old man from Venice was arrested for being drunk in public. Bail was set at $500.

El Toro & Laguna Canyon Road | Being in Possession of a Stolen Vehicle, Taking a Vehicle Without the Owner’s Consent

4:38 p.m. Officers were notified of a stolen red Hyundai Accent parked at the Mobil Gas station in the 800 Block of Laguna Canyon Road. After an investigation, the drier and sole occupant of the vehicle was contacted and detained. The vehicle belonged to Enterprise Rent-a-Car, and was supposed to have been returned in early April. Virginia Ann Rodriguez, 57, Santa Ana, was arrested for being in possession of a stolen vehicle (bail was set at $20,000) and for taking a vehicle without the owner’s consent (bail was set at $20,000).

S. Coast Hwy | 600 Block | Warrant

2:34 p.m. Enrique Seferino Rivera, 39, Anaheim, was arrested on two misdemeanor warrants. Bail was set at $10,00 each for the two warrants.

N. Coast Hwy | 100 Block | Citizen Contact

12:13 p.m. A man who was asked to leave by the staff at the location reportedly exposed his genitals prior to leaving.

S. Coast Hwy | 600 Block | Trespassing

8:34 a.m. Reese Mitchel Westenberger, 53, Laguna Beach, was arrested for trespassing. Bail was set at $500.

S. Coast Hwy | 600 Block | Soliciting a Lewd Act

2:16 a.m. Ali Rez Sepasyar, 26, Aliso Viejo, was arrested for engaging in a lewd act in public. Bail was set at $1,000.

Monday, May 28

Coast Hwy | 30900 Block | DUI

9:40 p.m. A 31-year-old man from Garden Grove was arrested on suspicion of DUI. Bail was set at $2,500.

Laguna Canyon Road | 20600 Block | Battery on a Person

4:56 p.m. Allan Neville Friant, 39, Laguna Beach, was arrested for battery on a person. Bail was set at $500.

Coast Hwy & Wesley Drive | Battery

3:18 p.m. Jessie Do, 34,  Westminster, was arrested on misdemeanor battery charges. Bail was set at $10,000.

S. Encino | Fraud

11:35 a.m. The RP stated that credit cards had been taken from them, and were used to make charges on their accounts.

Ocean Vista Drive | 21600 Block | Vandalism

9:51 a.m. The RP reported that scratches were left on the passenger door of a 2001 brown Ford F150.

N. Coast Hwy | 600 Block | Warrant

12:06 a.m. Dara Lea Brantley, 54, Laguna Beach, was arrested on a misdemeanor bench warrant. Bail was set at $1,500.

Glenneyre Street| 400 Block | DUI

12:48 a.m. A 29-year-old woman from Pasadena was arrested on suspicion of DUI. Bail was set at 

$2,500.

Brooks Street | 200 Block | Possession of a Controlled Substance

1:32 a.m. Mario Alberto Morenoljjan, 33, Aliso Viejo, was arrested for being in possession of a controlled substance. Bail was set at $500.

Laguna Canyon Road | 200 Block | DUI

2:13 a.m. A 44-year-old man from Anaheim was arrested on suspicion of DUI. Bail was set at $2,500.

Sunday, May 27

Glenneyre Street | 800 Block | Trespassing

11:24 p.m. William Stephen Wheller, 21, Laguna Beach, was arrested for trespassing. Bail was set at $500.

Anita Street| 100 Block | DUI, Driving Without a License, Committing Willful Cruelty to Children

8:09 p.m. Thomas Ryan Stark, 40, Laguna Niguel, was arrested on supicion of DUI (bail was set at $2,500), for driving without a license (bail was set at $500), and for committing willful cruelty to two children, ages 10 and 11 (bail was set at $100,000).

N. Coast Hwy | 600 Block | Probation Violation, Receiving Stolen Property

3:06 p.m. James Eugene Leis, 29, Laguna Beach, was arrested for violating probation, and for receiving stolen property. No bail was set.

S. Coast Hwy | 400 Block | Possession/Use of False Evidence of Age

12:03 a.m. Rebecca Rose Dunn, 20, Capistrano Beach, was arrested for being in possession of/using false evidence of age. No bail was set.

Laguna Canyon Road | 20600 Block | Domestic Violence

1:42 a.m. Anita Marie Novak, 39, Laguna Beach, was arrested for domestic violence with minor injuries. Bail was set for $50,000.

Ocean Avenue | 200 Block | Possession of a Controlled Substance

1:52 a.m. Michael Stan Necula, 26, Laguna Beach, was arrested for being in possession of a controlled substance. Bail was set at $500.

Ocean Vista Drive | 21600 Block | Battery

3:15 a.m. Shannon Lee Olsen, 35, Laguna Beach, was arrested for battery. Bail was set at $500.


Police Files

Former LBHS coach, Brian Bishop, arrested on meth and gun charges

On Friday, May 25, former LBHS assistant football coach Brian Jay Bishop, 35, was arrested by the Costa Mesa Police Department on drug and gun charges in Costa Mesa. 

Three men were arrested, two on suspicion of offenses including possession of heroin and methamphetamine, during two traffic stops in Costa Mesa, police said. Bishop was among those taken into custody that day during two separate traffic stops.

Authorities said the arrests occurred Friday after they monitored white supremacist gang members in the city. 

Police did not confirm whether the three are believed to be connected to the gang and did not disclose the gang’s name.

Police Files Brian Bishop

Courtesy of Costa Mesa Police Department

Former LBHS coach Brian Bishop was arrested on several charges including possession of meth for sale and possession of a concealed/loaded gun not registered to him

At approximately 1:30 p.m. that day, Gang Investigators, detectives, and patrol officers conducted a traffic stop along the 2400 block of Newport Boulevard. 

According to authorities, Bishop was arrested for possession of methamphetamine for sale, possession of a concealed/loaded firearm while possessing narcotics, and possession of a firearm when not the registered owner. 

Bishop has since posted bail and was released. 

“He was hired in August 2016 as a walk-on assistant football coach,” Leisa Winston, Assistant Superintendent, Human Resources & Public Communications, Laguna Beach Unified School District said.

Bishop served as LBHS Football’s Offensive Coordinator in 2016, John Shanahan’s first year as head coach. He also served as the freshman/sophomore team head football coach and a track coach.

“Mr. Bishop is no longer employed by LBUSD. His last day of work was Tuesday, May 22,” Winston said. “He indicated to staff he would be moving out of the area.”

Self-driving Tesla crashes, decimating LBPD SUV

On Tuesday, May 29 at 11:07 a.m., officers responded to a report of a traffic collision involving a police vehicle at 20652 Laguna Canyon Road, near Laguna Dog Park. The officer was on a call at the time near where his police vehicle was parked.

“Officers began investigating a two-vehicle traffic collision involving a 2015 Tesla S and an unoccupied Laguna Beach PD unit,” LBPD Spokesperson PIO Sgt Jim Cota said. “We learned from the driver’s statements that he had the Tesla in ‘driver assist’ mode when the vehicle veered off the roadway and crashed into the police vehicle.”

According to Sgt Cota, the driver, a man in his 60s from Laguna Niguel, reported that he was looking at the hillside when the vehicle veered off the roadway and crashed into the police vehicle. 

Police Files Tesla

Click on photo for a larger image

Photo courtesy of LBPD

A man crashed into a parked LBPD SUV while operating his Tesla in ‘driver assist’ mode on Tuesday; luckily, the officer had stepped out of the vehicle before the accident occurred

“He sustained minor injuries and refused transportation to the hospital,” Sgt Cota said. “The police vehicle sustained major damage and the Tesla sustained moderate damage.” The driver, not the Tesla, was placed at fault for the traffic collision, but not cited.   

The LBPD SUV appears to be totaled. LBPD put out a traffic alert warning about the accident warning that there would be delays on outbound Laguna Canyon Road for about an hour.

Car break-ins are rising in Laguna, keep doors locked

LBPD recently issued a press release warning residents that car break-ins are on the rise. On January 27, a victim reported that her vehicle had been burglarized and her purse containing multiple credit cards was stolen. 

LBPD Detectives began their investigation and learned that the victim’s credit cards were used in Laguna Beach and several other cities throughout Orange County. The next day the suspects also attempted to use the victim’s personal information to obtain a credit account at a San Bernardino furniture store.

The lengthy investigation led detectives to San Bernardino County where they identified three suspects in connection with the crime. 

“On May 24, detectives conducted a surveillance operation and subsequently arrested Highland residents Robert James Bird and Amber Lynn Holt for burglary, conspiracy, forgery, and theft of an access card,” Sgt Cota said. “Detectives learned the third suspect, Vincent Razvan Oajdea, was already in custody in Riverside County for an unrelated theft charge.”

Police Files Bird and Holt

Photos courtesy of LBPD

Robert James Bird     Amber Lyn Holt

LBPD Captain Jeff Calvert reminds the community that, “As we approach summer, we ask Laguna Beach residents and visitors to assist us by properly securing their vehicles at all times and to immediately report suspicious activity to the Laguna Beach Police Department.” 

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..

 

LBPD, LBFD, and Laguna Lifeguards enjoy annual Special Olympics Torch Run yesterday

LBPD, LBFD, and Laguna Lifeguards laced up their running shoes for the annual Special Olympics Torch Run yesterday morning at 7:35 a.m. to share their support for Special Olympics athletes on the 5.4-mile run.

Laguna’s trio of public service teams escorted the “Flame of Hope” from the Laguna Beach Police Department to the intersection of Coast Highway and Newport Coast Drive and handed the torch off to The California Highway Patrol.

Police Files Torch Run 1

Click on photo for a larger image

Photo by Mary Hurlbut

LBPD, LBFD, and Laguna Lifeguards enjoying the Special Olympics Torch Run

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

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

Police Files Torch Run 2

Click on photo for a larger image

Photo by Mary Hurlbut

LBPD gets ready to rally for the 5.4-mile Special Olympics run yesterday


Police Files

Human smuggling suspected at Crystal Cove as panga boat washes ashore

Laguna Beach Police, Newport Beach Police and California State Parks responded early yesterday morning, Monday, June 11, following a suspicious panga boat landing on the beach in the Reef Point area of Crystal Cove in what is believed to be a “human smuggling event.”

According to reports, authorities detected a craft in the ocean via infrared images showing what was believed to be a dozen or so passengers, until it was lost in the marine layer. 

All occupants were believed to have departed the area immediately upon reaching shore and have not been located since.

Police Files Panga Boat

Click on photo for a larger image

Courtesy of Laguna Beach PD

According to LBPD, a “human smuggling event” occurred at Crystal Cove on Monday when this panga boat washed ashore

“We found the boat around 6:30 this [Monday] morning,” said Jorge Moreno, Information Officer, OC Parks Dept.

He could not comment any further regarding the event and said that all other questions need to be directed to the CA Border Patrol. 

Shortly after 7 a.m., Laguna Beach Police deployed drones as part of the search effort.

By 7:35 a.m., LBPD reported that the suspects were outstanding and believed to have left the area.

“There were no people. It was already abandoned. There were just remnants in the boat,” said LBPD PIO Sgt Cota.

The panga boat was removed from the beach as the investigation continued.

Anyone with information about the incident should contact CA Border Patrol at (619) 216-4000.

Near record rescues by LB Lifeguards over weekend 

With warm summer-like weather over the weekend and large pounding waves, LB Marine Safety was slammed serving our beaches making a real difference. 

Swimmer at Pearl Street receives help from good Samaritan

On Saturday, June 10 at Pearl Street Beach, a 27-year-old Santa Rosa man reportedly ran into the water diving head first into the surf and hit his head. He was floating face down unconscious, when a good Samaritan aided him.

“At that point he was extracted by a good Samaritan and they began CPR,” said LB Marine Safety Captain Kai Bond. “Our units arrived and provided basic life support per our OC EMS standards.”

Police Files Pearl Street

Click on photo for a larger image

Submitted photo

A good Samaritan rescued an unconscious diver, providing CPR until help arrived

The man was taken to the hospital via ambulance with medics to Mission Hospital in Mission Viejo. His status is unknown.

The good Samaritan was reported to be a male, approximately 20 years old.

2-year-old toddler injured on rocks taken to Mission Hospital

A medical emergency call was received from an incident that occurred at the 100 Block of Mountain Road on Saturday, June 9 at 5:50 p.m. 

The incident happened at the rocks leading to the stairway at Mountain Road, according to Cpt Bond. 

According to reports, a father was holding his 2-year-old daughter when he slipped and fell onto the rocks. The toddler also fell, sustaining a head injury.

The 2-year-old child was transported to Mission Hospital in Mission Viejo via a medic transport.

“Missing” boogie boarder found safe and unscathed on the beach

On Saturday, June 9 at 5:22 p.m. at Camel Point Drive, LBPD received a call about a missing person, a swimmer, in the ocean. It was reported that the missing swimmer was an 11-year-old boy with no shirt and pale black shorts, riding a boogie board.

“A child was reported to have gone missing in the water at Camel Point. The reporting party didn’t see the child and he was found approximately an hour later at Aliso Beach,” Cpt Bond said. 

According to the report, the OC Coast Guard was notified sending rescuers in Duke, a MEDEVAC-capable search and rescue helicopter.

The concerned citizen who alerted authorities reported that about an hour prior she had seen a yellow boogie board floating by itself.

Luckily, at 6:37 p.m., the young boogie boarder was found back on the sand.

Missing scuba diver at Crescent Bay found unharmed

On Sunday, June 10 at 11:08 a.m., it was reported that a scuba diver was missing from Crescent Bay.

Marine Safety, LBPD and LBFD responded.

“The reporting party said that they were separated from their dive partner approximately 400 feet off of the shore at the north end of Crescent Bay Beach,” Cpt Bond said. “Lifeguards commenced a search of the area. The diver came up out of the water at the south end and was being rescued by a lifeguard.”

The lifeguard quickly identified him as the missing person, the rescue was effective, and the scuba diver was brought to shore.

The scuba diver was described as a male, approximately 50 years old, and luckily, he didn’t need any medical attention.

“Over the weekend, we had 192 rescues. We provided medical aid to 92 people, 5,700 public contacts and made 3,980 prevents, preventative actions,” Cpt Bond explained.

“It exceeds the normal amount based for on for this time of year based on the fact that there was good weather forecasted long term for the weekend, so people were gearing up for the weekend because they knew the weather would be nice,” Cpt Bond said. “In addition to the large surf that we got that was 3 to 5 feet on Saturday, [we also had] 6 and 8 feet sets on Sunday consistently throughout the day.”


When nature calls, don’t answer…several unsavory species spotted too close to home

There seems to be a guest spot on Wild Kingdom airing in the 5000 block of Avenida Del Sol recently with critters running amok, causing chaos, all within two days.

On Saturday, June 9 at 11:32 a.m., a woman called LBPD to report an “unknown animal in her bedroom,” notifying officers that she was scared. She described the intruder as having a long tail and questioned whether it could be a lizard or a snake.

The worried woman was advised to close her door and wait for an Animal Services officer to help quell her woes.

Earlier in the week on Wednesday, June 6 at 6:27 p.m., also in the 5000 block of Avenida Del Sol, a woman called LBPD to report and unwanted dinner guest. A coyote had a meal a la skunk in her backyard and kept leftovers for later. She asked Animal Services to assist in removing the skunk remains from her backyard. She must have thought the meal really stunk, most likely giving it bad reviews.

Oh dear, a possible “Bambi” scenario occurred at the 23000 block of Via Campo Verde on Wednesday, June 6 at 10:47 a.m. A person called to report that a mother deer allegedly left behind her baby deer, abandoning it. 

Police Files Fawn

Click on photo for a larger image

Courtesy of SpottedFawnMarketing.com

A baby fawn is abandoned by her mother in a Bambi gone bad scenario, the actual fawn is not pictured, rather a stand in model for representational purposes

However, this testimony would probably not hold up in court because it was hearsay, the person reporting the crime did not actually witness the mama deer in the act.

On a positive note, the caring caller asked LBPD if it was ok for the baby deer to stay on the property with the gate ajar.

Beware snakes are here, there, and everywhere in Laguna Beach these days.

On Wednesday, June 6 at 5:39 p.m., LBPD was contacted about a rattlesnake on a residents’ front porch at the 1200 block of La Mirada Street. There were no reported knocks or doorbell sounds heard, so that rules out a ding-dong-ditch motive or a dashed delivery debacle detected.

On Saturday, June 9 at 10:53 a.m., at the 1900 block of Temple Hills Drive, LBPD received a call reporting that a snake was in a residents’ garage. According to the police report, the raucous rattler got its justice and was “in custody.” Handcuffs?


Police Files

Father’s Day crash lands dad and daughter in ER

On Sunday, June 17 at 11:08 a.m., Laguna Beach Police and Fire personnel responded to a traffic collision involving an overturned vehicle at Vista Del Sol and Coast Highway. 

Reporting parties estimated that the driver at fault, not the injured father and daughter, was traveling 90-100 mph on Coast Highway at the time of the collision.

Police Files Accident

Click on photo for a larger image

Courtesy of LBPD

A careening car traveling at speeds up to 100 mph on Coast Highway collides with a daughter and dad on Father’s Day

“It was determined a reckless driver had caused the collision by sideswiping another vehicle causing that vehicle to overturn. Both the driver and his daughter, not at fault, were taken to Mission Hospital – Laguna Beach for their injuries,” LBPD Spokesperson PIO Sgt Jim Cota said. “The father suffered a laceration on his leg and the daughter suffered a broken finger.”

The driver deemed at fault, Aaron Van Korlaar, 26, Rancho Santa Margarita, was arrested on suspicion of felony DUI and taken into custody. 

“Several of our officers working that day are Drug Recognition Experts (DRE). The suspect was evaluated in the field and at the station and determined to be under the influence of a depressant. No alcohol was detected and nothing was found in the vehicle,” Sgt Cota said. “He gave a blood sample per law requirements.”

According to LBPD, Van Korlaar was taken straight to OC Jail and bail was set at $100,000.

However, upon booking at OC Jail, he was released without bail and with no charges pending.

When asked for a statement regarding his release without charges, Michelle Van Der Linden, OCDA Spokesperson said, “The Orange County District Attorney’s Office bears an ethical responsibility to file only those charges that are supported by the evidence and can be proven beyond a reasonable doubt with in a court of law.

“Upon review of the evidence this particular case was referred back to the Laguna Beach Police department for further investigation. The OCDA maintains the ability to file charges at a later date.”

Summer canine curfew: dogs are nixed from beaches from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m., through Sept 10

Move over Rover, the free roving beach days are over at least from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. through September 10. Over the weekend, dogs were dogged with the unwelcome news on the City’s Facebook Page, “Sorry doggies, as of today you have to wait until 6 p.m. to be on the beach. It’s a seasonal rule, June 15 - Sept 10, that is part of our Municipal Code. After 6 p.m. and before 9 a.m., dogs are welcome on our sandy shores, though like everywhere in Laguna they must be on a leash.” #lagunabeach #beachlife #dogs

Jim Beres, LBPD Civilian Services Administrator, explained the “dogs on beaches” ordinance to Stu News to help locals settle down scruffy, which can be a toughie for pups excited to play on the sandy beaches any time of day.

Why is this policy in place?

“Because the beaches are so crowded with visitors and beachgoers, it is not safe to have dogs on the beach during those days and times. Between June 15 and September 10, dogs can be on the beach before 9 a.m. and after 6 p.m. as long as they are on leash,” Beres said. 

The sole exception is Thousand Steps Beach, where dogs are never allowed. The county has banned dogs at Thousand Steps all day, year round.

“Dogs are never allowed off leash at any time on City beaches and all the other county beaches follow the same rules the City beaches do,” Beres said. “They are allowed off leash at the Dog Park in Laguna Canyon, and they are allowed off leash on private property, provided it is fenced.”

Police Files Dog

Click on photo for a larger image

Photo by Mary Hurlbut

Over the busy summer months, canine curfew at Laguna beaches is in effect, from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m., through September 10

According to Beres, the “dogs on leashes only” ordinance was first adopted in 1978 with the most recent revision in 2011. The fines are tiered based on the number of offenses cited within a 12-month time frame. The first offense is $100, the second is $200 and the third is $500.

What about Emerald Bay and Irvine Cove, what are the dog rules there?

“Emerald Bay is in the county’s unincorporated area, so the county’s rules would apply there. Irvine Cove is within the City, so all the City rules apply [there] just like any other public City beach,” Beres said.

For Fidos that drool at the prospect of ruling the beach supreme, the prospect is a pipe dream. 

Has the City discussed a year-round dog beach?

“It has been discussed on occasion, but there are no appropriate locations in Laguna Beach for a dog beach,” Beres said. 

Is this something that would need to originate with Council? Is this a possibility for the future?

“They have addressed that issue in the past, but there is just nowhere in Laguna Beach that would be appropriate for a dog beach. There is a great dog beach in Huntington Beach, but the difference is there are no homes near the Huntington Beach dog beach,” Beres said. “In Laguna Beach, we have residents who live by all of our beaches. In addition, we have a state Marine Protected Area off our coast that prohibits disturbing the marine environment, and that prohibition applies to dogs as well.”

 He said the City typically receives a handful of complaints from residents about dogs chasing wildlife at the beaches or in the tidepools every year, and that this is a violation of the Federal Marine Mammal Protection Act, as well as the state Marine Protected Area.

Snake Files

Slip, sliding, and slithering away: snakes are here to stay, so be careful and keep them at bay

On Wednesday, June 13 at 2:02 p.m., a business in the 400 block of Forest Avenue called LBPD to report a snake inside the wall. Described as a stray, the snake decided to move away, first outside the business, then on to the street, the busy snake was reportedly quite fast on its feet.

At 2:08 p.m., six minutes later, LBPD received another call that the same snake was busy on the crawl. But instead of being witnessed on lower ground, the snake had lofty ambitions, so on the gutter above he was found. Now three feet of the snake was up on display, yes, that crazy snake-artist described as yellow and grey. 

Then, at 2:39 p.m., a third call came in. It seems that the snake-capades were not at the end. The snake it turns out they finally did catch, and Animal Services was requested to come out and fetch. 

More on Wednesday, at the 800 block of Diamond Street at 3:53 p.m., another snake call was reported to LBPD. A woman found a large snake in her garage and asked for help to get it out. Then she learned it was a gopher snake and decided she would “leave it on her property.”

Another snake call came in to LBPD on Wednesday, June 13. This one was at the 30800 block of Coast Highway at 3:54 p.m. when a snake was reportedly found at a resident’s front door. Cited as a 601 by LBPD, that trespassing snake was Gone on Arrival, instinct must have kicked in, pure survival.

Wednesday’s “local snake sighting day” continued ironically at 6:13 p.m. (on June 13). Located at the 21600 block of Ocean Vista Drive another rattler came visiting a resident’s front door. However, this time it was a baby rattler, capricious to the core, that quickly decided to hide underneath the pot by the door. 

On Thursday, June 14 at 3:32 p.m., at the 100 block of Irvine Cove Place, LBPD received a call from a resident reporting that it had a snake in custody. The snake was placed in a box on the driveway and it was requested that Animal Services take it from there.

On Thursday, June 14 at 4:51 p.m., the roil of the coil continued at the 2000 block of Temple Hills Drive, where LBPD received a report of a rattlesnake in a resident’s front yard. The stray snake might have lost its way, but today was not its day, put in custody, the poor guy would stay.

Competing with “wild snake Wednesday,” Thursday, June 14 came in a close second with another call to LBPD at 9:19 p.m., at the 2200 block of Laguna Canyon Road. A rattlesnake was found cruising the courtyard at the main campus at LCAD, filled with dreams of someday becoming an artist grad. The rabbits and racoons laughed, calling it a cad. The whole incident would have been funny if it wasn’t so darn sad.

On Friday, June 15 at 6:33 p.m., at the 2400 block of Laguna Canyon Road, a rattlesnake was reported just in time for happy hour. The rattler was seen making the rounds first in the backyard, then at the side of the house, this snake was social, no meek mouse.


Incident Reports

Saturday, May 26

Laguna Frontage | Driving on a Suspended or Revoked License, Warrant

3:50 p.m. Julio Rodriguez, 37, Buena Park, was arrested for driving on a suspended or revoked license and a bench warrant charge. Bail was set at $7,500.

Saint Anns Drive | 100 Block | Warrant

1:33 p.m., Brett Michael Bolin, 28, Laguna Beach, was arrested on misdemeanor charges of being drunk in public and an outstanding bench warrant. Bail was set at $2,500.

Coast Hwy | 30800 Block | Shoplifting, Trespassing

12:42 p.m. Reese Mitchel Westenberger, 53, Laguna Beach, was arrested for misdemeanor shoplifting and trespassing. Bail was set at $500.

Coast Hwy | 31800 Block | False ID, Obtaining a Controlled Substance by Fraud

1:53 a.m. The RP stated that a female was providing false identification to nurses. Melody Ann Robeson, 50, Los Angeles, was arrested for providing false identification to specific peace officers (a misdemeanor), for using a false ID (a felony), and for obtaining a controlled substance by fraud (a felony). Bail was set at $20,000.

Ocean Avenue | 200 Block | Drunk in Public

1:53 a.m. A 44-year-old woman from Laguna Beach was arrested for being drunk in public. Bail was set at $500.

Friday, May 25

Oak Street & S Coast Hwy | Traffic Collision

1:48 p.m. A two-vehicle collision involving Silver Mercedes SUV and white Dodge SUV resulted in minor injuries and caused 30-45 minutes of heavy traffic.

Police Beat Scott

Photo by Scott Brashier

Click on photo for a larger image

S Coast Hwy | 700 Block | Fighting/Challenging in a Public Place, Trespassing, Shoplifting

10:36 a.m. Brett Michael Bolin, 28, Laguna Beach, was arrested on a misdemeanor for fighting/challenging in a public place, a misdemeanor for trespassing and disrupting business operations, and a misdemeanor for shoplifting. Bail was set at $500.

Woodland Drive | 100 Block | Driving on a Suspended License

9:59 a.m. Jesse Rodrigo Cruz, 28, Tustin, was arrested on a misdemeanor for driving on a suspended license from a DUI. No bail was set.

Saint Anns Drive & S Coast Hwy | DUI

2:07 a.m. A 28-year-old man from Foothill Ranch was arrested on suspicion of DUI. Bail was set at $2,500.

Ocean Avenue | 200 Block | Drunk in Public

1:53 a.m. A 44-year-old woman from Laguna Beach was arrested for being drunk in public. Bail was set at $500.

Thursday, May 24

Diamond Street & S Coast Hwy | DUI

9:59 p.m. A 35-year-old man from Garden Grove was arrested on suspicion of DUI. Bail was set at $2,500.

Laguna Canyon Road | 20600 Block | Trespassing

8:18 p.m. Michael Hays Matekel, 29, NFA, received a misdemeanor for occupying a property without consent. He was found inside with no weapons and was not intoxicated. Bail was set at $500.

Highland Way | 2600 Block | Warrants

7:41 p.m. James Robert Bird, 40, Yucaipa, and Amber Lynn Holt, 33, Yucaipa, were arrested on outstanding bench warrants. Bail was set at $20,000.

Legion Street | 400 Block | Domestic Violence

7:09 p.m. According to the RP, he witnessed a bald male with a long beard, approximately 6’2”, wearing a black and brown sweater, hitting a female and hitting her gray VW Jetta parked in the middle of the street with its flashers on. According to the RP, the female got in her vehicle and drove away. Per the male, who was on foot, the incident was all verbal, nothing physical happened. There was no answer when the LBPD called the RP back.

Coast Hwy & Third Street | Driving on a Suspected or Revoked Licenese, Failure to Obey a Peace Officer

2:53 p.m. Stacey Renee Wesleyson, 48, Norwalk, was arrested for driving on a suspended or revoked license, which is a misdemeanor. According to LBPD, an officer warned Wesleyson not to drive, however, she drove off and was pulled over again. She received a second misdemeanor, “failure to obey a peace officer.”

Mountain Road | 100 Block | DUI

1:25 a.m. A 47-year-old man from Costa Mesa was arrested on suspicion of DUI. Bail was set at $2,500.

Wednesday, May 23

Forest Avenue | 500 Block | Stolen Vehicle Retrieved

8:38 p.m. Santa Ana PD located a stolen local 2004 GMC Yukon. The vehicle was majorly stripped, but not burned, no plates were missing, and no one was in custody.

N Coast Hwy | 600 Block | Petty Theft

6:26 p.m. The RP said two Hispanic males, one with a tattoo on his arm, wearing black shorts, and a gray sweatshirt, took two carts full of items estimated at $300 to $400.

S Coast Hwy | 400 Block | Sexual Battery

6:09 p.m. The RP said that a possible sexual assault occurred at Riddle Field on May 19.


Police Files

LBPD arrests Carlsbad man for felony sexual battery of a Laguna Beach minor

On April 4, LBPD began investigating a sexual assault case involving a minor. The reported victim is a 16-year-old Laguna Beach girl.

Last Wednesday morning, May 23, a search and arrest warrant was served on a suspect from Carlsbad with the assistance of Carlsbad PD, in connection with the suspected crime.

 “After a thorough investigation, Laguna Beach detectives served a search warrant in Carlsbad and subsequently arrested Rajiv Dilip Parikh, 36, of Carlsbad, for Felony Sexual Battery and Annoying, Molesting a Minor,” said LBPD Spokesperson PIO Sgt Jim Cota. “We are working closely with the family.”   

At the conclusion of the investigation, it was determined that this was an isolated incident, said Sgt Cota.

“The Laguna Beach Police Department will not tolerate any form of inappropriate or illegal acts against our children,” said Sgt Cota. “Our detectives conducted a very thorough investigation and established crimes were committed. We would have traveled to the other side of the planet to get the suspect if we had too.” 

Parikh’s bail was set at $25,000.

Sawdust mural vandal remains at large, please call LBPD with any leads

On Tuesday, May 22 at 6:44 a.m., officers responded to a vandalism report at the Sawdust Art Festival. Sometime the previous night, an unknown suspect had spray painted black X’s through the Sawdust’s summer mural, “Goddesses.”

According to Sgt Cota, a black rubber glove and a yellow spray can tip were found within proximity of the crimes.

Unfortunately, there was no video surveillance captured at the address, but LBPD is hoping someone who knows something or saw something will step up.

“There are no suspects at this time. We are hoping someone in the community knows something,” said Sgt Cota. 

According to Sgt Cota, LBPD detectives will be processing the glove and spray can tip for any DNA. “If there is any DNA on the items located, we will find out the suspect(s) responsible for this act of vandalism,” said Sgt Cota.

The artists who created the mural, Charmaine Olivia and Alec DeMarco, will be working hard to “fix” the mural in time for Sawdust Art Festival’s opening on Friday, June 29.

If anyone has any information about the crime, please contact LBPD at (949) 497-0701.

Hot wheels, not here, steer clear: LBPD corporal ranks #1 for tracking down stolen vehicles

Laguna Beach vehicle owners are a lot safer thanks to LBPD Corporal Luke Gilbertson, who recently received the 2017 Vehicle Theft Recovery Award for the third year in a row.

Sponsored by the Auto Theft Advisory Committee, Cpl Gilbertson received the award on May 23 at the 28th Annual Awards Presentation in Garden Grove.

Police Files Award

Click on photo for a larger image

Photo courtesy of LBPD

LBPD Cpl Luke Gilbertson awarded 2017 Vehicle Theft Recovery Award

“Within the year, Cpl Gilbertson recovered 17 rolling stolen vehicles. If you are driving a stolen vehicle, stay out of Laguna Beach, we are good at what we do,” Sgt Cota said. 

LBPD gave congratulations to Cpl Gilberton on the City’s website and on their Facebook page. 


Police Files

‘Goddesses’ defaced, Sawdust mural tagged by vandal, leaving evidence behind

On Tuesday, May 22 at 6:44 a.m., LBPD received a report that a mural outside of the Sawdust Art Festival had been vandalized, tagged with black spray paint. Located at the 900 Block at Laguna Canyon Road, the mural is on the north end of the Sawdust property facing the street. 

Upon arrival at the scene, LBPD discovered that a glove and the tip of a spray paint can had been left behind. 

According to Sawdust Marketing and PR Coordinator Franky Duschane, the mural, “Goddesses,” by Charmaine Olivia and Alec DeMarco, was defaced during the late evening of Monday, May 21.

 “At this time, we do not know who is responsible for the vandalism nor do we know why, but we are actively working with local law enforcement to ensure it does not happen again,” Duschane said. “Charmaine and Alec generously donated the mural to us and are graciously committed to its restoration. Sawdust Art Festival’s 2018 mural was reviewed and approved by the Laguna Beach Arts Commission.”

Sawdust Board President Kelly Akins is appalled.

What a despicable act that was perpetrated on the beautiful art being created for our summer mural,” Atkins said. “The artists, Alec and Charmaine, were devastated by this, but they are amazing and working harder than ever to fix the vandalism and have the mural ready for our opening.”

Click on photo for a lareger image

Photo by Mary Hurlbut

Sawdust art mural tagged, the crime of defacing art in Laguna is highly unusual

There has been public outcry on Facebook with Laguna Beach residents coming together to support the beloved local art festival. Lifetime Sawdust exhibitor Doug Miller posted pictures of the defaced mural on Facebook with details of the egregious crime.

“Mural at Sawdust was defaced with black spray paint…the police are on it,” Miller said. “If anyone knows anything, please report it.”

Like the rest of the Laguna Beach community, City Cultural Arts Manger Siân Poeschl was angered. 

 “This type of vandalism is highly unusual and unacceptable in our community,” Poeschl said. “These young artists had yet to complete the work, and we had not had an opportunity to enjoy it.”

Sawdust glass artist Maggie Spencer echoed Poeschl’s sentiments.

“It is disgraceful that such a vulgar act of vandalism would happen to any work of art,” Spencer said. “But to have it happen in this art community is particularly vile.”

As of 8 p.m. on Thursday, nearly 300 people had responded to Miller’s post, including over 116 comments. In an update, Miller later said, “The artists are going to repaint and protect it with an anti-graffiti clear coat.”

Neighbor Mark Orgill, Laguna Creative Ventures’ President of Strategy and Development was sympathetic. “These things are very unfortunate,” he said. 

Orgill has been instrumental in the Laguna Civic Art District improvements, including the recent murals added to The Hive (formerly the Festival Center).

Fortunately, those murals are protected.

“The product we use is Sher-Clear by Sherwin-Williams,” Orgill said.

Stu News will provide updates on the investigation of this crime by LBPD.

 

LBPD will be going door-to-door to enforce that local canines are ‘properly licensed’, it says

Fido might be fined if he’s an unlicensed canine. Beginning June 1, the knock at the door could be LBPD Animal Services Officers, who will begin going house-to-house to verify that dogs are properly licensed.  

In a press release issued by LBPD Police Chief Laura Farinella, locals are reminded that dog licenses are required by law and that a rabies tag is not a dog license.

“Many dog owners do not realize that state and local laws require all dogs over four-months of age to be licensed, and to wear a dog license tag at all times,” Chief Farinella said. “New residents or dogs newly acquired shall obtain a dog license within 15 days.”

During the neighborhood rover to find rogue rovers, Animal Services Officers may leave a door hanger to remind residents that their dog licenses are expired and need to be renewed. 

On the up side, securing a dog license is an important part of identification and can assist Animal Services if your pet becomes lost.

Courtesy of PetWorld website

A real picture of a puppy, just for illustrative purposes, not an actual pup that may or may not live in Laguna Beach, or may or may not be licensed 

Since dogs need to get tagged annually, think of it as routine maintenance, like an annual exam. The cost is $48 for canines that are not spayed or neutered pets and half the cost, $24, for pets that can no longer produce pups. And senior citizens, ages 65 and older, receive a 50 percent discount of the applicable fee. 

However, don’t shirk the money due on that Shar-Pei, there is a late fee of $17 if the dog license is not purchased by the due date. Pet registrations are not transferable or refundable. 

To procure a new dog license, download an application form from the City website and mail it with a check made payable to the Laguna Beach Animal Shelter. Or, if you prefer to take care of it face-to-face, visit The Animal Shelter or the Cashiers Counter at City Hall during regular business hours. 

The Animal Shelter is open seven days a week, 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. City Hall is open Monday through Thursday from 7:30 a.m. to 5 p.m, and alternating Fridays from 7:30 a.m. to 4 p.m. (City Hall is closed on the other alternating Fridays). Check the City website calendar if needed at www.lagunabeachcity.net. For information, call the Laguna Beach Animal Shelter at (949) 497-3552.


Police Files 

LBPD’s crackdown on exhaust noise goes viral on Facebook

A Stu News Police Files story on Tuesday went viral on LBPD’s Facebook page, stirring emotions and comments (thousands of them) about our PD’s current crackdown on loud tail and exhaust noise.

According to LBPD Spokesperson PIO Sgt Jim Cota, the crackdown started to quell locals’ complaints about the noise. 

“We receive complaints regarding loud vehicle noise, both motorcycle and vehicles, on an ongoing basis. In response to these complaints, we have been providing ongoing education, issuing warnings and citation enforcement,” said Sgt Cota. “We have been communicating to visitors and residents through the use of our city message boards that loud vehicles may be cited.”  

Cota explained that the noise enforcement was done through officer’s observations. 

The section LBPD cited is CVC27150(a), which states, “Every motor vehicle subject to registration shall at all times be equipped with an adequate muffler in constant operation and properly maintained to prevent any excessive or unusual noise, and no muffler or exhaust system shall be equipped with a cutout, bypass, or similar device.”

“The enforcement was aimed at those individuals who intentionally modify their 

exhaust so that it is loud or those who have a legal exhaust, but intentionally create excessive or unusual noise by revving their engines to create noise,” said Sgt Cota. 

LBPD is not intentionally targeting a specific group of people, he said.

“It has been incorrectly communicated that we are targeting Harley style motorcycles and exotic sports cars,” Sgt Cota said. “We welcome everyone to Laguna Beach, but are asking that motorists drive responsibly, keeping in mind that the noise from vehicles echo throughout the community.”

 

Courtesy of autoindustryia.com

Loud, exhaust heavy cars like this one on autoindustryia.com are the culprit in the fight against noise pollution, not a real car cited in Laguna, just an example

Manufacturers have to comply with exhaust noise regulations and factory equipped exhaust systems in California, which for cars must be under 95 dbA. Motorcycles must be under 80 dbA. The average car, similar to that of patrol vehicle or police motorcycle, meets these requirements.

“During the education and enforcement detail on May 12, there were 45 motorcycles stopped for excessive noise. There were 26 combined citations and warnings issued to motorcyclists. There were 24 vehicles stopped for excessive noise and 21 combined citations and warnings were issued,” Sgt Cota said.

 He said both citations and warnings were issued. Citations generally require a motorist to pay a fine but that is determined by the court, not by the police department. And contrary to naysayers of the law, the police department does not generate revenue as a result of issuing these citations.

 “We receive request complaints from citizens regarding loud vehicles, as they feel it is disruptive and a form on noise pollution,” Sgt Cota said. 

 “We are being responsive to the community’s concerns while trying to balance the letter of the law vs the spirit of the law,” Sgt Cota said. “We appreciate those who choose to live in Laguna Beach and those who visit Laguna Beach. We hope to encourage those who drive through Laguna Beach to be respectful of the community and to not intentionally create excessive noise by revving their engines.”

 He said Laguna Beach is not the only community being inundated by exhaust pollution. Because Pacific Coast Highway is a popular recreational area to drive it’s an issue among neighboring agencies, especially along the coast.

The post on LBPD’s Facebook page says that the noise pollution patrol is going on for the entire week. However, Sgt Cota commented that LBPD’s efforts to reduce intentional noise from loud exhaust is ongoing. 

“We post on FB to make the community and visitors aware of our efforts,” Sgt Cota said. “We have received numerous supporting emails and calls because of the enforcement and they are happy we are taking their complaints seriously.”

Longtime Laguna Beach City Councilmember Toni Iseman applauds LBPD for their efforts to mitigate the loud muffler brigade. 

“I’m hearing from countless residents so delighted about the enforcement,” Iseman said.

Comments that she’s heard are all positive, including, “I hope the word is out that they can’t roar through our town anymore.” “I look forward to walking downtown again.” “It’s not just the noise, it’s the fumes.” “They set off my car alarm and woke up my baby.”

Longtime resident and merchant Heidi Miller cheers the LBPD.
“So proud of our police department! Proactive and dedicated. Laguna Beach is so proud, and we stand behind our brave police department! As a 40-year resident and 40-year business owner in Laguna Beach, my interactions with the LBPD have been positive, professional, and appreciated,” Miller said.

Luciana Straulino Coutchie, who gave LBPD a 5-star review, concurs.

“All the negative reviews appear to be from people who do NOT actually live in Laguna Beach. A number of them seem to have targeted several other Police Departments giving them all negative reviews,” Coutchie said.

She continued, “If they were actual residents, I have no doubt the majority would rate LBPD as excellent and caring Police Officers. I personally know, admire, and respect Laguna Beach’s Police Officers.”

Coutchie is the mother of beloved fallen Laguna Beach Motor Officer Jon Coutchie, who, devastatingly, was killed in a crash on September 21, 2013 at the young age of 41.

He will never be forgotten by LBPD or the community that loves and misses him.

 

Dog abandoned in car by tourist on Mother’s Day

On Mother’s Day, Sunday, May 13, a pet owner, presumably the pet’s mother, left her dog in the car in the middle of the day. A hot car = a hot dog, and not the good kind.

Jim Beres LBPD Spokesperson Civilian Services Administrator said four separate callers called to get help for the canine, who was locked in a car in the 300 Block of North Coast Highway at 12:52 p.m.

The second caller reported, “The dog looks distressed.”

The third caller reported that the canine had been cooped up for over 30 minutes.

And the final fourth caller mustered even more might for the mutt, threatening to break in the windows themselves to let the dog out.

“The door was opened by tow company at request of Animal Services…the city pays for that,” Beres said.

The tow truck came, released the dog from the vehicle and the dog was taken into custody.

“The owner of the dog was a 28-year-old female from Colorado,” Beres said. “The owner of the dog was upset until it was explained to her the severity of the incident and that citizens wanted to break her windows.”

Andy then a Mother’s Day miracle…“She was able to calm down and thanked LBPD personnel,” Beres said.

“The owner was cited for CPC 597.7(a)-Animal in unattended motor vehicle. The case will be heard in Superior Court and the fine will be determined by the judge,” said LBPD Spokesperson PIO Sgt Jim Cota.


Police Files

Laguna woman held at gunpoint at home by two armed suspects in home invasion demanding drugs, guns, and money

On Monday, June 11 at 11:06 p.m., in the 20000 Block of Laguna Canyon Road, LBPD received a 9-1-1 call from a resident reporting she had been the victim of a home invasion robbery moments prior.

The victim, a 71-year-old Laguna Beach woman, was home alone during the attack. While still partially bound, tied up with her hands behind her back, she informed dispatchers that the two men dressed in all black, wearing black ski masks, entered her home and held a handgun to her head demanding drugs and money.

“One of the suspects was believed to be Hispanic by his accent. A gun was held to her head at one point,” said LBPD Spokesperson PIO Sgt Jim Cot. “The suspects stole three guns from the residence, two handguns and one shotgun that belonged to her son-in-law.”

Approximately $55 in cash was also stolen.

“She received minor injuries, cuts to her wrists and her hands due to being tied up and to her face, but did not want medical attention,” Sgt Cota said.

The victim, who lives in a single-family home, said they were ransacking her house for approximately 30 minutes before fleeing the area.

Police Files Home Invasion

Click on photo for a larger image

Courtesy of LBPD 

One of two suspects caught on camera via the victim’s home security camera during a home invasion robbery in the Canyon on Monday

During her 9-1-1 call, the victim reported that she no longer heard the suspects but that she could hear her dogs barking in the front yard.

In regard to the suspects’ identities, one of the suspect’s “nose looks pretty large,” said Sgt Cota.

Whether there were any drugs stolen from the home is still under investigation.

“I cannot comment on specifics; this is active investigation. Citizens in the city should not have fear because this house and occupants were their target,” Sgt Cota said. “We believe this to be an isolated incident and we are seeking the public’s assistance to identify the suspects.”

If any residents have any tips they should call LBPD at (949) 497-0701, Investigations Sergeant Jim Cota at (949) 464-6671 or Crime Stoppers at (800) 222-TIPS (8477).

Eagle Scout and friends help save a stranger’s life at Pearl Street Beach

In Tuesday’s edition of Police Files it was reported that a good Samaritan rescued a man at Pearl Street Beach. It turns out there were several good Samaritans who together helped save a man’s life, including three local boy scouts.

The victim’s stepmother reached out to Stu News and wanted to thank the good Samaritans who quickly reacted to help save her stepson’s life on Saturday, June 10 at Pearl Street Beach. 

“The Good Samaritan that quickly started CPR was Coleton Sofonio (EMT). This young man and the three others who pulled my stepson from the water, and the amazing response time from the EMTs, without a doubt saved my stepson’s life,” she said. “Please give a shout of praise, as I am so grateful.”

Nik Tanski, 16, an Eagle Scout, and Alexander Kupfer-Weinstein, 16, two Laguna Niguel teens, were integral to the rescue.

Out on summer break from Dana Hills High School, they hit Laguna Beach last Saturday with friends to enjoy the large surf. Little did they know how their lives would forever change.

Police Files Nik Tanski

Click on photo for a larger image

Courtesy of Nik Tanski 

Nik Tanski, an Eagle Scout, said his scouting skills helped him save a man’s life, including knowing CPR

“There was a swell with some pretty big waves. But my friend said they watched him [the victim] jump in to the far left of Pearl Street where there’s a lot of shallow water and rocks. They weren’t sure what to think of it,” Tanski said. 

Tanski didn’t see it happen but heard his friend yelling for help.

“He was yelling, help, help, lifeguard help. I looked over and saw him holding [the victim] by the chest area trying to keep his head out of the water. And I ran over to help and grabbed [the victim’s] legs,” Tanski recalled. 

Two other friends, Nicholas Rigo and Noah Rigo, helped carry the victim out of the water to a safer spot on the shore. 

Police Files Three Heroes

Click on photo for a larger image

Courtesy of Nik Tanski 

Pictured form left to right: Nicholas Rigo, Noah Rigo, and Nikolas Tanski ran to help save a man rescuing him at the beach and performing first aid 

“I yelled for someone to support his neck. Colton, an EMT who happened to be at the beach, heard our calls and ran in to support his neck,” Tanski said. “Colton started chest compressions, soon after I switched with him, continuing chest compressions. I just remember not hesitating; I just jumped in and started.”

Tanski remembers telling his friends to call 9-1-1 and get the lifeguards.

“It’s definitely an experience that I will never forget. I am really thankful that I got to help. Through scouting I’ve done so many merit badges where they teach and reinforce the basics of CPR and first aid. I don’t think I would have ever known what to do or had the confidence to do that [administer CPR and save a life] without scouting,” Tanski said. “It really was an eye-opener to how beneficial scouting is in life. And also just the necessity to be safe especially when dealing with Mother Nature. I’m just really glad I was in the right place at the right time and able to help him.” 

It is quite an achievement to be an Eagle Scout. Only four percent of Boy Scouts are granted this rank after a lengthy review process. The requirements necessary to achieve this rank take years to fulfill. Interestingly, of the 312 pilots and scientists selected as astronauts since 1958, 180 were Scouts and 40 were Eagle Scouts (including moonwalkers Neil Armstrong and Charles Duke).

Running over to the victim, Kupfer-Weinstein was first on scene and recounted what he experienced that day.

Police Files Alexander

Click on photo for a larger image

Photo by Malia Kho

Quick action by Dana Hills student Alexander Kupfer-Weinstein helped save a life

“One of my friends saw something. I guess he hit a rock. He was facedown in the water,” Kupfer-Weinstein said. “I sprinted over to make sure he was all right. I turned him over and started dragging him our way when a wave hit us and knocked us over. But I got back up and my friends helped me. It was pretty scary.”

Their friend Andrew Reavis ran and got help.

“He ran to get a lifeguard. He was the one who ran almost to the other end of the beach to get a lifeguard. He just sprinted over there,” said Kupfer-Weinstein. “I never thought about it. I’ve heard stories, but I see it happening to somebody else and it’s kind of taken me aback. I thought immediately, after that, I need to take CPR lessons. Because if it happens again, I am not going to be able to do anything unless I learn CPR. It’s life changing.”

Tanski and his friends frequent the beaches in Laguna.

“I like surfing in Laguna, all the beaches are fantastic. We’ve been going all day almost every day. With the swell hitting it’s been so much fun,” Tanski said. “But it’s really been any eye-opening experience that anything can happen. You’ve just got to be careful out there.”


Police Files

Thief waltzes away with dancing woman

On Friday evening, a resident in the 200 block of Chiquita Street reported that a sculpture had been stolen from their home. 

The sculpture, a bronze dancing woman on a base of green marble, had been listed on eBay. The loss was estimated at $7,000. 

Copycat sought in wilderness parking lot burglary

Last May, LBPD apprehended a suspect who had been breaking into cars parked in Laguna Coast Wilderness lots on Laguna Canyon Road.

Now, it seems a copycat is back at it.

On Saturday morning, a woman’s car, parked in the lot in the 3200 block of Laguna Canyon Road, was broken into while she was hiking. 

When she returned to her vehicle, she found that her purse, credit cards, house keys, and two iPhones had been stolen.

“Detectives arrested the last guy responsible for all of those vehicle burglaries, but it looks like someone new is back at it,” said Sgt. Jim Cota, LBPD spokesperson.

Remember to lock your vehicles and hide your valuables.


Police Files

Cocaine-fueled man attacks self with towel rack

Guests at the Hotel Laguna were awoken at 12:35 a.m. Thursday morning by some loud banging and yelling. 

Officers arrived and found the source of the commotion to be a man who had ripped the towel bar off the wall. The man, James Hathaway, 32, of Sky Valley, told officers he had been hitting himself in the head with the towel bar.

After further investigation, both Hathaway and his girlfriend, Ashley Neail, 29, Fullerton, were found to be in possession of cocaine. Hathaway claimed that the drugs had been given to them by a man at a bar.

LBPD Booking Photos

Ashley Neail and James Hathaway

Both were arrested and booked into the Laguna Beach Jail for possession of a controlled substance. 

Tips for trick-or-treaters tonight from the LBPD

LBPD hopes that Stu News readers have a lovely evening while they are doing their trick-or-treating. However, there are a few safety tips that they want everyone to keep in mind. 

Be sure to use flashlights or glow sticks so that you are more visible to cars.

Travel in groups or with an adult that you trust. 

Click on photo for a larger image

Photo by Scott Brashier

These are some fierce pumpkins

Use the crosswalk, looking both ways before you cross. 

Only consume prepackaged candy, 

And make sure to have dad and mom check the candy out before you eat it. 

Keep in mind, the Laguna Beach Police Department has candy as well, so please stop by if you wish.


Police Files

Squatters arrested for burglary and ID theft, spray paint home walls with their initials

An observant resident noticed some suspicious activity at his neighbor’s vacant house in the 600 block of Ramona Avenue on Saturday. An unfamiliar truck was parked in the garage, a window was open, and people unknown to the neighbor were seen around the property.

Officers arrived around 11:45 p.m. to investigate and found that a man and a woman had been living inside the residence for about 10 days without permission from the owner. During that time, they had spray painted the walls with their initials. 

Photo courtesy of LBPD

While squatting inside the home, Justin Westgaard and Dionne Hart left their mark in the form of graffiti

In addition, the pair, Justin Westgaard, 39, Laguna Beach, and Dionne Hart, 45, Costa Mesa, were found to be in possession of drugs, drug paraphernalia, numerous IDs, mail, and financial information belonging to other people.

LBPD Booking Photos

Justin Westgaard and Dionne Hart

Hart and Westgaard were taken to Orange County Jail on charges of burglary, identity theft, and drug related charges. 

More police than protestors at Sunday’s rally

“They recently changed their name to Onward America from America First,” said Sgt Jim Cota of the group that promoted a rally in Laguna Beach this last Sunday.

 The group was allowed to speak in front of the boardwalk...with a slew of law officers in riot gear covering the entire walkway behind them, becoming just silhouettes as the sun began to set. “We have a strong law enforcement contingency that’ll involve all of our law enforcement partners throughout the county, so I would expect upwards of 150 officers total, ready to go. There are horses that are staged. They’re not going to be dispatched immediately, only if they are needed,” Sgt Cota told Stu News as they waited to see what the evening would bring.

Click on photo for a larger image

Photo by Jason Feddy

Police from all over Orange County were at Main Beach Sunday night to help ensure public safety

The group began to speak with a bullhorn to onlookers, mainly protesting how the 2012 Benghazi attack was handled. This lasted for all of 15 minutes before a counter protest group was on the scene. There was an intense law enforcement presence all around. At this point, a group of 20 or so police came into the sand area, separating the two groups, with one group leaving first. Another squad of 30 officers across the street standing two by two on Broadway Street began crossing the Pacific Coast Hwy at around this time (approximately 8 p.m.).

A total of about 60 protesters and counter-protesters were in attendance on Sunday. No arrests were made and the crowds dispersed by 8:45 p.m.

One resident pointed out that the cost was something to consider for all of the equipment expended for this rally. The police barriers, the police with their riot gear – how much did this all cost, the resident wondered. Another passerby lamented that Laguna Beach is so peaceful, usually, and that the contrast recently was very evident –definitely not the usual tranquil beachfront that residents and tourists alike are used to enjoying.

Red Flag Warning issued for Laguna Beach

The National Weather Service has issued a Red Flag Warning for the Orange County Coastal Zone, including Laguna Beach, effective through Wednesday, Oct. 25 at 6 p.m. A wind advisory has also been issued where wind speeds between 15-25 mph and gusts of up to 40 mph are possible. Temperatures will be near or in excess of 90 degrees. An elevated sense of awareness is imperative during extreme weather conditions.

Laguna Beach residents should take this time to evaluate their preparedness levels. The City asks residents to refer to the Ready! Set! Go! Program available on the Fire Department website (www.lagunabeachcity.new/cityhall/fire). Register for AlertOC, the city’s mass notification system, by going to www.alertOC.com. Make sure to include your cell phone number, text number, and email addresses so emergency alerts can reach you no matter where you are. In order to ensure you are contacted during a Red Flag Warning, register with the Nixle Red Flag group by texting “LBRedFlag” to 888-777.

During a Red Flag Warning, parking restrictions are implemented for the Diamond/Crestview neighborhood. Any vehicles parked in marked parking spaces with a “red flag” painted in the center of the asphalt may be cited or towed. 

When Red Flag Warning are issued from the National Weather Service, this information will be shared on the city’s website, social media accounts, official press release, and through the Red Flag group in Nixle.


Police Files

Lizzie Mulder, embezzler who stole more than $1.5 million from local businesses, is sentenced to prison

Elizabeth “Lizzie” Mulder, the owner and operator of a financial services company based in Laguna Beach that provided accounting, tax and bookkeeping services to small businesses throughout Orange County, was sentenced this week to five years and three months in federal prison for embezzling more than $1.5 million from her clients.

Mulder, a 34-year-old former Laguna Beach resident, pled guilty in June to wire fraud and subscribing to a false income tax return for failing to report the misappropriated funds to the IRS. 

She convinced nearly all of her victims to make checks payable to “Income Tax Payments” under the guise that the money would be used to satisfy clients’ past and future tax obligations. Instead, these checks went to a fictitious business called “Income Tax Payments,” and the funds used by Mulder to pay for her rental home in Laguna Beach, cosmetic surgery, vacations, a horse, and more. 

Photo courtesy LBPD

Elizabeth “Lizzie” Mulder befriended most of her victims before stealing more than $1.5 million from them between July 2009 and May 2016

“By developing and continuing personal friendships with the victims, Mulder was able to assume responsibilities for their small business accounting needs and then proceeded to steal from them,” prosecutors wrote in a sentencing memorandum. “Her conduct resulted in various levels of financial loss and emotional distress to the victims, many of whom were required to drain their personal bank accounts or retirement funds in an attempt to avoid bankruptcy.”

In addition to her time in prison, Mulder has been ordered to pay $1,538,781 in restitution to seven victims, including the IRS.  

Spate of residential burglaries continues: three more reported in the last week

On Tuesday, a resident was dropped off at her home on Smithcliffs Road and realized immediately that something was not right. Suspecting that someone was inside the residence, she called the police. 

Officers and a canine unit confirmed that the residence was empty, but someone had definitely been inside. 

A final loss inventory has not yet been completed, but some of the victim’s jewelry was taken.

“This is possibly related to other residential burglaries,” said Sgt. Jim Cota, LBPD spokesperson.“We’re investigating the links.”

On Monday morning, a resident in the 200 block of Lower Cliff Drive came home after being away for three weeks and realized that someone had been inside the residence.

The loss, which included UPS uniforms, a fur coat, a computer, Kindle, iPad and other miscellaneous items, was estimated at about $3,000. 

The suspect may have accessed this home through an unlocked door.

And again, on Sunday, in the 200 block of Crescent Bay Drive, a resident returned home to find random items taken from their house – a computer worth $1,200, an iPhone 6 worth $800, makeup, a classic print Louis Vuitton bag, a UPS package and more – the total loss was estimated at $5,000.

At this residence as well, the suspect may have entered through an unlocked door.

“Residents must be sure to lock all doors and windows – always – and take additional precautions if the home will be empty for a few days,” said Sgt. Jim Cota.

Along with these precautions, residents need to be reminded, Sgt. Cota said, that

the LBPD offers vacation house checks. Just stop by the police station during business

hours to fill out a request form.

America First rally scheduled for Main Beach on Sunday – what residents need to know

A rally to “…bring awareness to Extortion 17 and Benghazi” has been organized for Sunday from 7 to 10 p.m. at Main Beach.

At time of writing, 44 people had RSVPed as “Going” on the Facebook page, with another 262 “Interested.”

The Laguna Beach Police Department is prepared for this event and will have officers on foot as well as some on horseback patrolling the area.

Photo by Scott Brashier

Officers on horseback patrolled at the America First rally in August, where an estimated 2,500 people gathered

LBPD and outside agencies will be setting up at 5 p.m. 

“Residents should continue with any plans that they have,” said Sgt. Jim Cota. “LBPD is here to protect residents. Don’t change your life or lifestyle because of the activities of protestors.”

At least one counter-protest group has been in touch to seek an area set aside for them.


Police Files

Driver in 2013 fatal collision sentenced to community service, probation

At 6:40 a.m. on April 2, 2013, a Tesla Model S driving northbound on Laguna Canyon Road collided head-on with a Honda Accord, killing the 47-year-old driver Alberto Casique and 38-year-old passenger Armando Gonzalez. The Tesla was driving next to a Mercedes as both vied for the single lane north of El Toro Road.

On Monday, October 16, 2017, the driver of that Tesla, Dr. Robert McFarland Pettis, pled guilty to two misdemeanor counts of vehicular manslaughter without gross negligence, and was sentenced to community service and three years of probation. As part of the deal, he admitted that he had been driving at an unsafe speed at the time of the collision.

Click on photo for a larger image

Photo courtesy LBPD

Two men were killed in April 2013 after the Honda (left) they were in was hit head-on. The driver of the black Tesla, seen facing the wrong way on Laguna Canyon Road in the background, was sentenced this week.

The families of the victims have also filed a wrongful death lawsuit against Pettis a well as Dekker McKeever, who was driving the Mercedes, Orange County, Caltrans, and the city of Laguna Beach, among others. 

Laguna Canyon Road closed twice in a day

On Sunday morning around 9, a motorcycle driving outbound on Laguna Canyon Road near Canyon Acres was struck by a vehicle making a left turn out of a residence. 

The motorcyclist was transported to Big Mission and the extent of his injuries were unknown.

Laguna Canyon Road reopened after approximately an hour and a half, but that didn’t last too long.

At 9:40 p.m., police and fire personnel responded to the 2600 block of Laguna Canyon Road after a vehicle collided with a utility pole. 

“It was likely that the driver fell asleep at the wheel,” said Sgt. Jim Cota, LBPD spokesperson. “He sustained minor injuries and was transported to Mission Hospital Laguna Beach as a precaution.”

The collision, in which the Honda Civic sheared a utility pole, caused low hanging wires to hang low over both sides of Laguna Canyon Road.

Click on photo for a larger image

Photo by Dave Day

Due to downed wires late Sunday night, Dave Day had to commute to his workplace on Laguna Canyon Road by bicycle, where he snapped this photo

Crews from Frontier Communications arrived on Monday to fix the affected pole and wires. The road was reopened approximately 17 hours later, at 3 p.m.


Police Files

Mid-day burglar arrested for stealing clothes and cash

On Sunday afternoon, a LBPD officer was in the right place at the right time.

“The general manager of a restaurant in the 200 block of Brooks Street flagged down an officer around 2:15 p.m.,” said Sgt. Jim Cota, LBPD spokesperson. “He pointed to a man running away from the patio area.”

The officer took chase and tracked down Cesar Badillo-Munoz, age 28.

“He was wearing a jacket that still had a merchandise tag on it from a local business,” said Cota. “He claimed he paid $80 for it, but later admitted he had stolen it along with other clothing items that he was in possession of, including hats and t-shirts.”

Back to the restaurant manager…

“Badillo-Munoz had been acting suspicious inside the restaurant,” said Cota. “The employees noticed that he had gone into the office and taken cash from an unlocked safe – that’s what alerted the manager to flag down the officer.”

Inside the pocket of the stolen jacket, officers found a total of $2,166.

Badillo-Munoz was arrested for burglary, grand theft, and, since he ran from officers, resisting arrest. 

Community meeting regarding recent burglaries a success – more coming in the future

On Wednesday night, LBPD hosted a community meeting at the Susi Q Center regarding the recent burglaries in North Laguna.

Sgt. Cota estimated there were 25 people in attendance, as well as himself, Sgt. White, Sgt. McGill, and Detective Ocampo. 

“We talked about the uptick in burglaries in the city, security measures residents can take, vacation home checks conducted by the police department, and other resources for the public to learn about major events,” said Cota. “Overall it was a very good meeting.”

“Based on the attendance and questions that were asked, we will be doing a lot more of them,” he added. “It was really good and informative for citizens.”

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

A pigeon and a pumpkin – was it the full moon?

Last Thursday there was a full moon – and we’re attributing that to some recent odd occurrences around Laguna….

On Monday morning, a business reported that there had been pumpkins smashed, hay scattered, and posted signs ripped. Was it a werewolf on the rampage? Perhaps, but the victim provided security footage of the incident.

On Monday evening, a man was reported wandering downtown carrying a dead pigeon. When questioned about it by police officers, he was unable to recall where he had picked up the unfortunately deceased bird. The man, 18-year-old Emil Brenenstuhl, was ultimately arrested for public intoxication, but we won’t rule out vampires as the cause for the dead bird.

After all, it is Friday the 13th….


Police Files

LBPD nabbed three burglary suspects from Riverside on Friday morning, with help of K-9 bite

As we reported on Friday, LBPD was able to apprehend three suspects involved with a burglary reported on Zell Drive that morning. A resident had reported a suspicious truck in his neighbor’s driveway, and another caller reported three suspects had attempted to force entry through a side bedroom window. 

Within minutes of the call, officers on scene saw three suspects inside the truck driving away. 

The three suspects abandoned the truck in a nearby residential area and fled on foot. With air support from the Orange County Sheriff’s Department as well as their K-9 units, the suspects were located. 

LBPD Booking Photos

Gwendulyn Ceballos Jimenez, Allen Ykwang Lin, and Michael Murilloh

Gwendulyn Ceballos Jimenez, 21, Allen Ykwang Lin, 29, and Michael Murilloh, 31, all from Riverside, were taken into custody after an extensive search of the area. Ykwang Lin had to be persuaded to come out of the canyon where he was hiding – OCSD’s K-9 unit was more than happy to assist. The minor bite injuries Ykwang Lin sustained were treated. 

“Our residents acted quickly and did a fantastic job reporting the suspicious activity that led to these arrests,” said Captain Jeff Calvert in a statement. “We are fortunate to have such engaged residents who understand that it is a team effort to keep our community safe.”

The suspects were booked into Orange County Jail for residential burglary and possession of stolen property. LBPD detectives are in the process of identifying additional victims through the stolen property recovered in the truck…which was also stolen. The investigation is ongoing.

Click on photo for a larger image

Photo courtesy of LBPD

Officer McGuire and Detective Gensemer are looking for the owner of the other stolen truck, which they think belongs to a 2- to 4-year-old. If you know who this truck belongs to, please call the LBPD at 949-497-0701.

 

Well-dressed Edward Torrison pleads guilty

This week, Edward Torrison pled guilty to the thefts that occurred this summer in Laguna Beach at the Shops at the Cliffs, where the losses exceeded $200,000. 

He pled guilty to four counts of second-degree burglary, two counts of grand theft, and one count of receiving stolen property. 

LBPD detectives arrested Torrison on Sept. 26 in Oceanside. A second suspect shown on the surveillance footage is still at large. 

Torrison is suspected to be involved in several other burglaries that occurred throughout Orange, Los Angeles, and San Diego counties.


Police Files

Three burglary suspects in custody after chase through backyards in the Temple Hills area

Lagunans woke this Friday morning to the sound of circling helicopters and sirens. 

Mary Hurlbut, of Cerritos Drive says she was sitting in her living room when she heard footsteps. “I looked outside and there was a police officer on our back deck with guns drawn,” she said. “He told us to make sure all our doors and windows were locked as they were pursuing two suspects.”

Three suspects in all were taken into custody, Sgt Jim Cota tells Stu News. “The incident began as a response to a burglary occurring in the 2900 block of Zell Drive,” he said.

Click on photo for a larger image

Photo by Mary Hurlbut

This was Mary Hurlbut’s view this Friday morning first thing—immediately after finding a cop with gun drawn on her deck

“Officers responded to the area, near Temple Hills Drive and Bluebird Canyon. They saw a suspect fleeing on foot. With the assistance of a helicopter and the K-9 unit he was apprehended without further incident,” Cota added.

This was no easy task for police officers, given, as Mary Hurlbut describes, the lush backyards of homes in this area.

Once again, LBPD nabbed their suspects.

We’ll update details on our Facebook page.

Burglar will face felony animal cruelty charges after gecko is injured

When the LBPD takes on a case, they want justice for all the victims of a crime.

And last week, a much-loved gecko became one of those victims. She WILL see justice done.

Residents will recall that on July 26, five Laguna Beach jewelry businesses at the Shops at the Cliffs shopping center were burglarized, and more than $200,000 in merchandise was stolen by "well-dressed" thieves. 

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

Detectives went to Oceanside and located Edward Torrison, 30, at a home where he resides with his girlfriend.

“Torrison was very surprised,” said Sgt Cota, LBPD spokesperson. “So surprised that he took off running from Laguna Beach PD officers through downtown Oceanside. I think he was shocked that he was finally caught.”

Torrison fled down an alley, over a fence, and into a business, where he attempted to jump through a window and shattered the gecko’s cozy aquarium, the only home the little lizard knew.

“The gecko (a girl, named Aloha) is fine,” Sgt Cota assures us. “She is resting and back with her owner. Although tail-less, I am told she will be alright, and her tail is not supposed to grow back.”

Still, little Aloha could have died. And also, a tail is not something you want to lose if you’re a gecko.

So it is that the LBPD is adding a charge of felony animal cruelty to the list of charges against Torrison, which include multiple theft and burglary related charges as well as being a felon in possession of a firearm.

Click on photo for a larger image

Photo courtesy LBPD

Aloha’s owner Cory Whitlock, seen here with Detectives Dave Gensemer and Joy Butterfield, is just happy she’s alive

Stu News learned some additional interesting information about the arrest, one of the most significant for the LBPD in recent years, its successful conclusion a reflection of the smarts of its hard-working investigative team.

Sgt Cota tells us that the thief had an enormous amount of jewelry inside the garage of the residence. 

“Two loaded handguns were also located inside the house and garage. There was so much jewelry in the large tool chest with multiple pull drawers that we did not have the room in our detective vehicles to transport it all back to Laguna Beach,” he tells us. 

Sgt Cota had to pay a Oceanside tow truck company to haul the very large chest and jewelry back on a flatbed the night of the arrest. 

(By the way, we hear that Sgt Cota drew the short straw and got stuck following the tow truck at slow speeds all the way back to Laguna Beach from Oceanside, which even included a stop at the San Clemente border check area.) 

“Border patrol agents inquired what we were hauling back into Orange County because not every day does a flatbed tow truck haul a very large tool chest with hundreds of thousands of dollars in stolen jewelry at 2 a.m. in the morning,” Cota accurately observes.  

He says that it is going to take a long time to investigate this particular case given the magnitude of the crimes and the number of stolen items. 

Police departments around Southern California laud the arrest

Other police departments from Orange County and San Diego and Riverside are celebrating the arrest and working with the LBPD on the case, because Torrison had been involved with many burglaries prior to his arrest by LBPD.

Sgt Cota told Stu News, however, that right now there is no link between the recent residential burglaries in Laguna Beach and the commercial burglaries committed by Torrison. 

“It appears he targets businesses more, but we will not rule out any involvement in residential burglaries,” Sgt Cota added. “If it is not Torrison, then that means there are other people coming into our city and committing the crimes. We’ll get those guys too. We always do. 

“Our investigative team is the best around as their track report speaks for itself in terms of the high volume of arrests they make. They do not know how proud of them I really am. They work countless hours and take the crimes they investigate very seriously. I am just fortunate enough to supervise a great group of detectives. They deserve all the credit!”


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.”


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.


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.


Incident Reports

Saturday, June 16

Coast Hwy | 30800 | Defrauding an Innkeeper

11:40 p.m. According to reports, a 44-year-old woman from Monrovia tried to leave the location without paying her drink bill. She was arrested for defrauding an innkeeper. Bail was set at $500.

3rd Avenue & Coast Hwy | Battery of Spouse/Ex-Spouse/Date 

9:08 p.m. Ivette Morales, 20, Lake Forest, was arrested on suspicion of domestic violence. Bail was set at $10,000.

Forest Avenue | 500 Block | Warrant

8:32 p.m. Baldomero Almodovar Cervantes, 70, Cedar Hill, TX, was arrested on a felony North Court warrant. Bail was $100,000.

Coast Hwy | 300 Block | Battery

6:59 p.m. The RP stated they were assaulted by a cook at the location the same day prior. 

Laguna Canyon Road | 20600 Block |  DUI

5:17 p.m. According to reports, the driver of a black Toyota 4Runner, a 40-year-old Laguna Beach man, went over the curb in the process of attempting to parallel park. He was arrested on suspicion of DUI. Bail was set at $2,500.

Laguna Canyon Road | 1700 Block | DUI

2:24 p.m. According to reports, the driver of a black Toyota 4Runner, a 44-year-old Laguna Beach woman, struck and took out a wooden road sign. She was arrested on suspicion of DUI (bail was set at $2,500), and for hit and run causing property damage (bail was set at $500).

Ocean Way | 2000 Block | Warrant

2:51 a.m. Emily Rose Carson, 25, Costa Mesa, was arrested on an Orange Court warrant. Bail was set at $15,000.

Jasmine Street & Coast Hwy | Warrant

2:41 a.m. Nehemiah Jones, 27, Mission Viejo, was arrested on a Harbor Court warrant. 

S. Coast Hwy | 200 Block | Being Under the Influence of a Controlled Substance

12:57 a.m. Daniel William Del Rosario, 25, Venice, was arrested on suspicion of being under the influence of a controlled substance. Bail was set at $1,000.

Moss Street | 200 Block | DUI

1:18 a.m. A 34-year-old man from Laguna Beach was arrested on suspicion of DUI. Bail was set at $2,500.

Broadway Street | 200 Block | Drunk in Public

1:18 a.m. A 29-year-old man from Rancho Santa Margarita was arrested for being drunk in public. Bail was set at $500.

S. Coast Hwy | 600 Block | Warrant

12:18 a.m. Amanda Arline Preston, 26, Murrieta, was arrested on Orange and Long Beach Court warrants (bail was set at $2,500), and for driving with a suspended license (bail was set at $35,000).

Friday, June 15

Ledroit Street | 200 Block | DUI

10:47 p.m. A 29-year-old man from Florida was arrested on suspicion of DUI. Bail was set at $2,500.

S. Coast Hwy | 12000 Block | Drunk in Public

8:26 p.m. A 43-year-old woman from San Jose was arrested for being drunk in public. Bail was set at $500.

S. Coast Hwy | 100 Block | Drunk in Public

4:24 p.m. A 52-year-old man from Laguna Beach was arrested for being drunk in public. Bail was set at $500.

Forest Avenue | 200 Block | Fraud

10:34 a.m. The RP stated that they paid $498 cash to a fraudulent source pretending to be California Edison.

Ruby Street | 200 Block | Petty Theft

9:26 p.m. The RP stated that upon returning from a swim at the location, their clothes (valued at $130) went missing.

Thursday, June 14

Jasmine Street | 300 Block | Petty Theft

9:04 p.m. The RP stated that a $34 posture correcting brace was ripped from a box that had been delivered to them earlier in the day.

N. Coast Hwy & Irvine Cove Drive | Under the Influence of a Controlled Substance

5:13 p.m. Luis Enrique Yerba, 56, Laguna Beach, was arrested on suspicion o being under the influence of a controlled substance. Bail was set at $2,500.

Vista Del Sol & Coast Hwy | Vandalism

4:05 p.m. The RP stated that their car had been broken into, and that one of their windows was broken.

Cleo Street | 300 Block | Violating a Restraining Order, Battery of Spouse/Ex-Spouse/Date

4:25 a.m. Vanessa Landazuri, 36, Laguna Beach, was arrested for violating a court order to prevent domestic violence (bail was set at $1,500) and for domestic battery (bail was set at $10,000).

S. Coast Hwy | 100 Block | Warrant

3:02 a.m. Judee Renee Kelly-Hunter, 59, Laguna Beach, was arrested on a Harbor Court warrant (bail set at $1,500) and for loitering (bail set at $500).

S. Coast Hwy | 1400 Block | Drunk in Public

2:49 a.m. A 25-year-old man from Laguna Niguel was arrested for being drunk in public. Bail was set at $500.

Wednesday, June 13

Laguna Canyon Road | 2600 Block | Warrant

10:41 p.m. Michael Timothy Anaya, 49, Laguna Beach, was arrested on a Harbor Court warrant. Bail was set at $1,500.

S. Coast Hwy | 100 Block | Warrant

9:22 p.m. Kurick Colt Walker, 23, Laguna Beach, was arrested on a Santa Monica warrant. Bail was set at $5,000. 

Myrtle Street | 300 Block | Vandalism

6:17 p.m. Sometime between 2:30 and 3:30 p.m. the same day prior, an unknown item struck the RP’s large metal mailbox which was fixed to the the sidewalk, “smashing it pretty good.”

3rd Avenue & Coast Hwy | Traffic Collision

5:56 p.m. The RP reported a motorcycle versus vehicle traffic collision. They stated that the motorcycle was hit from behind, causing the motorcyclist to crash and land on their head.

S. Coast Hwy & Pearl Street | Traffic Collision

2:33 p.m. A traffic collision on the southbound side of Coast Hwy was reported. The owner of a grey Volkswagen Jetta was injured in the collision. Two ambulances were required at the scene to provide medical treatment to three different patients.

Unknown Location | Warrant

12:46 p.m. Troy Alexander Vasquez, 31, Anaheim, was arrested on a Lakewood warrant. Bail was set at $50,000.

Coast Hwy & Wesley Drive | Warrant

7:50 a.m. Daniel Matthew Dudek, 53, San Juan Capistrano, was arrested on a warrant. Bail was set at $75,000.

S. Coast Hwy | 100 Block | Disorderly Person

6:35 a.m. A subject was reported to have knocked over trash cans and kicked windows in front of Johnny Rockets. The subject had passed by the location twice, but was unable to be located by responding officers.


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.


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, June 12

Coast Hwy & Wesley Drive| DUI

11:40 p.m. A 27-year-old woman from Huntington Beach was arrested on suspicion of DUI. Bail was set at $2,500.

3rd Avenue & Coast Hwy | Consumption of Alcohol in a Public Place

8:39 p.m. A 71-year-old Laguna Beach man was arrested for consumption of alcohol in a public place. Bail was set at $500.

Forest Avenue | 500 Block| Petty Theft

5:31 p.m. The RP reported an incident of petty theft.

High Drive | 500 Block | Property/Fond

4:05 p.m. It was reported that someone had left property (mail, etc.) inside the RP’s wife’s 2009 White GMC Acadia. It was unknown at the time whether or not the items were stolen. The RP advised that no property was taken from the vehicle.

Cleo Street & Glenneyre Street | Drunk in Public

12:15 p.m. A 55-year-old man from Laguna Beach was arrested for being drunk in public. Bail was set at $500.

Cliff Drive | 300 Block | Probation Violation

9:45 a.m. Victor Kuzma Stepanenko Jr. (A.K.A. Jude Michael Stepanenko), 49, Laguna Beach, was arrested on a parole violation. No bail was set.

Monday, June 11

Canyon Acres Drive & Laguna Canyon Road | Contempt of Court – Disobeying a Court Order

8:08 p.m. Jermaine Austin Sterling, 33, Laguna Beach, was arrested for unauthorized advertisement/practicing of law (bail was set at $500), and for disobeying a court order (bail was set at $15,000).

S. Coast Hwy | 600 Block | Possession of Drug Paraphernalia, Driving with a Suspended License, Destroying/Concealing Evidence, Warrant

4:32 p.m. Marcus Darrell Williams, 34, Costa Mesa, was arrested for being in possession of drug paraphernalia (bail was set at $500), for driving with a suspended license (bail was set at $500), and for destroying/concealing evidence (bail was set at $500).

Cynthia Haeinwall Jung, 35, Fountain Valley, was arrested for being in possession of drug paraphernalia (bail was set at $500), for being in possession of a controlled substance (bail was set at $500), and on a Harbor Court warrant (bail was set at $5,000)

Laguna Canyon Road | Laguna Canyon Road | Possession of a Controlled Substance, Possession of Drug Paraphernalia

2:58 a.m. Kenneth Lee Koestler, 43, Laguna Beach, was arrested for being in possession of a controlled substance (bail was set at $500), and for being in possession of drug paraphernalia (bail was set at $500).

Sunday, June 10

Bluff Drive | 31500 Block | Lewd Conduct

2:53 p.m. A 22-year-old Laguna Beach woman reported that she walked down to the ocean’s edge, and felt someone hit and grab her buttocks. According to reports, the victim and the suspect began a heated discussion. The woman then reported the incident to a lifeguard nearby. Witnesses came forward to confirm that the suspect’s hand did make contact with the woman’s buttocks. The woman also provided photographs of red marks on her left buttocks. The suspect, Tanner Thomas Nicks, 24, Dana Point, was arrested for lewd conduct. Bail was set at $500.

Coast Hwy | 30800 Block | Resisting/Obstructing a Peace Officer, Possession of Drug Paraphernalia, Possession of a Controlled Substance

2:47 a.m. Vincent Hunter Turnquist, 27, California, was arrested for resisting/obstructing a peace officer (bail was set at $500), for being in possession of drug paraphernalia (bail was set at $500), and for being in possession of a controlled substance (bail was set at $500).

S Coast Hwy | 1400 Block | Battery of a Spouse/Ex-spouse/Date/Etc.

1:41 a.m. Carlos Amador Carreno, 33, Palmdale, was arrested on suspicion of battery of a spouse/ex-spouse/date/etc. (bail was set at $10,000), and on suspicion of DUI (bail was set at $15,000) with multiple priors.

S. Coast Hwy | 1400 Block| Domestic Violence

1:41 a.m. Carlos Lopez Carreno, 32, Palmdale, was arrested on suspicion of domestic violence. Bail was set at $15,000.

Glenneyre Street & Brooks Street | Warrant

1:28 a.m. p.m. A 24-year-old man from Hemet was arrested on suspicion of DUI. Bail was set at $2,500.

Glenneyre Street & Brooks Street | Warrant

1:17 a.m. Edward H. Baskaron, 28, Banning, was arrested on suspicion of DUI. Bail was set at $2,500. Uriel Perez, 23, Moreno Valley, was arrested for being in possession of a controlled substance. 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, June 9

Pearl Street & S. Coast Hwy | DUI

11:07 p.m. A 56-year-old woman from Laguna Beach was arrested on suspicion of DUI. Bail was set at $2,500.

Reef Point & Coast Hwy | DUI

10:30 p.m. A 36-year-old woman from Corona Del Mar was arrested on suspicion of DUI. Bail was set at $2,500.

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

9:14 p.m. Robert Lenn Caltabiano, 45, Laguna Beach, was arrested for being in possession of a controlled substance (bail was set at $500), and for being in possession of drug paraphernalia (bail was set at $500).

S. Coast Hwy | 100 Block | Drunk in Public

4 p.m. A 64-year-old man from Laguna Beach was arrested for being drunk in public. Bail was set at $500.

S. Coast Hwy | 100 Block | Battery

3:20 p.m. Shannon Leigh Cusick, 48, Laguna Beach, was arrested for battery. Bail was set at $500.

N. Coast Hwy | 600 Block | Drunk in Public

10:25 a.m. A 55-year-old man was arrested for being drunk in public. Bail was set at $500.

Moss Street & S. Coast Hwy | DUI

7:53 a.m. Nicholas Anthony Aho, 26, Laguna Niguel, was arrested on suspicion of DUI. Aho had one prior arrest for DUI. Bail was set at $10,000.

N. Coast Hwy | 200 Block | Indecent Exposure

5:23 a.m. Kyle James Rusher, Laguna Hills, 25, was arrested for indecent exposure. Bail was set at $500.

Bluebird Canyon Drive & S. Coast Hwy | DUI

2:35 a.m. A 22-year-old man from San Clemente was arrested on suspicion of DUI. Bail was set at $2,500.

Upland Road & S. Coast Hwy | DUI

1:38 a.m. A 24-year old woman from Mission Viejo was arrested on suspicion of DUI. Bail was set at $2,500.

Friday, June 8

S. Coast Hwy | 1500 Block | DUI

12:16 a.m. A 28-year old man from Laguna Niguel was arrested on suspicion of DUI. Bail was set at $2,500.

Canyon Acres Drive & Laguna Canyon Road | DUI

11:59 p.m. A 47-year-old man from Ladera Ranch was arrested on suspicion of DUI. Bail was set at $2,500.

Pearl Street | 300 Block | DUI

10:41 p.m. A 72-year old man from Laguna Beach was arrested on suspicion of DUI. Bail was set at $2,500.

Broadway & Coast Hwy | DUI

10:31 p.m. A 22-year-old woman from Irvine was arrested on suspicion of DUI. Bail was set at $2,500.

Broadway Place & N. Coast Hwy | DUI

8:59 a.m. Ricardo Flores, 27, Santa Ana, was arrested on suspicion of DUI. Flores had one prior arrest for DUI. Bail was set at $10,000.

Broadway Street | 200 Block | Warrant

8:43 a.m. Kirt Louis Storm, 61, Laguna Beach, was arrested on a Harbor Court warrant for driving with a suspended license. Bail was set at $1,500.

Laguna Canyon Road | 20600 Block | Trespassing

3:51 a.m. Kenneth Lee Koestler, 43, Laguna Beach, was arrested for trespassing (bail was set at $500), and for being under the influence of a controlled substance (bail was set at $1,000).

San Joaquin Street & N. Coast Hwy | DUI

1:43 a.m. A 37-year-old man from Newport Beach was arrested on suspicion of DUI. Bail was set at $2,500.

Thursday, June 7

Glenneyre Street | 400 Block | Warrant

10:04 p.m. Brandon Christopher Morris, 33, Newport Beach, was arrested on a Harbor Court warrant for driving with a suspended license. Bail was set at $1,500.

Pearl Street & S. Coast Hwy | Drunk in Public

9:32 p.m. A 55-year-old man from Laguna Beach was arrested for being drunk in public. Bail was set at $500.

S. Coast Hwy | 300 Block | Drunk in Public

6:20 p.m. A 26-year-old man from Texas was arrested for being drunk in public. Bail was set at $500.

7th Avenue & Coast Hwy | Warrant

4:13 p.m. Ronald Michael Rackemann, 54, Laguna Niguel, was arrested on a Harbor Court warrant. Bail was set at $2,500.

Wednesday, June 6

S. Coast Hwy | 1400 Block | DUI

11:08 p.m. A 69-year-old man from Laguna Niguel was arrested on suspicion of DUI. Bail was set at $2,500.

S. Coast Hwy & Mountain Road | DUI

9:30 p.m. A Range Rover hit a parked car and flipped over. The driver refused medical treatment, stating that she was not injured. A 52-year-old woman from Laguna Beach was arrested on suspicion of DUI. Bail was set at $2,500.

S. Coast Hwy | 600 Block | Warrant

1:26 a.m. Quy Huynh, 41, Garden Grove, was arrested on a Del Norte Superior Court warrant. Bail was set at $2,500.

S. Coast Hwy | 600 Block | Indecent Exposure

12:46 a.m. Olivia Lauren Siemon, 27, Laguna Beach, and Maxwell Carlton Post, 27, Laguna Beach, were arrested for disorderly conduct/soliciting a lewd act. Bail was set at $1,000 for each individual.


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  

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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.

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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

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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

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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.

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