Laguna Beach

Police Files

Two peaceful protests planned for today in Laguna

At least two peaceful protests are planned in Laguna Beach for today, June 5. The first, taking place at 1 p.m. at the intersection of Ocean Ave and PCH (Main Beach side), is being spearheaded by Laguna Beach Pride in support of Black Lives Matter, and “demanding justice” for George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, and Ahmaud Arbery.

Organizers state, “First and foremost, everyone must stay safe! Please take the necessary precautions to protest against COVID-19. Wear masks and gloves.”

Police Files Scott B

Click on photo for a larger image

Photo by Scott Brashier

Protest at Main Beach, Friday at 2 p.m.

The second protest, also promoted by locals, is a paddle out at Thalia Street beach at 5:30 p.m. The “Solidarity in Surfing” paddle out is in support of Black Girls Surf, an organization established for young girls/women surfers of the African diaspora, and Black Lives Matter.

The paddle out is part of a worldwide movement of paddle outs in support of change and racial equality. On Wednesday in Encinitas, thousands gathered for a paddle out to celebrate George Floyd’s life and take a stand for change.

Lifeguards estimate anywhere from 3,000 to 5,000 people took part in the demonstration.

LBPD releases statement concerning tragic death of George Floyd and protests

 On Thursday, June 4, LBPD Chief Laura Farinella released the following statement on behalf of the Laguna Beach Police Department:

“The deeply concerning and tragic death of George Floyd has understandably resulted in outrage and anger nationwide. As the Chief of Police, my officers and I strongly condemn the actions of the involved Minneapolis police officers who took the life of Mr. Floyd. These actions go against how we train as law enforcement officers and the core values of our police department. We support everyone’s right to free speech and the right to peacefully assemble. The safety of our community remains our top priority, and the Laguna Beach Police Department is closely monitoring the events occurring across the county and the country. We have contingency plans in place to respond to any unlawful protest activity and remain committed to the safety of the citizens of Laguna Beach.”

Police Files

Body of suspected kayaker found near Crystal Cove

On Thursday, May 14, at approximately 8 a.m., the body of a deceased adult male came ashore near Crystal Cove State Beach, according to an official spokesperson from the Orange County Sheriff’s Department.

The decedent was identified as Christopher Kihl, 41, of Orange. A kayak, believed to have been loaned to Kihl, was located on Wednesday, May 13, in the evening floating near Crystal Cove. 

At this time, the cause of death is unknown. While there do not appear to be suspicious circumstances at this time, the OCSD Homicide Unit is handling the investigation.

Police Files

Man rescued in the Wilderness following auto collision

On Wednesday, March 18, at 1:38 a.m., the California Highway Patrol transferred a 9-1-1 call into LBPD’s dispatch center from a female reporting that her husband was lost on the trails in Willow Creek Wilderness Park. The female identified her husband as a 58-year-old Whittier resident who had been staying with his brother in the city of Laguna Niguel. 

According to LBPD Spokesperson PIO Sgt Jim Cota, “The male was driving his vehicle inbound on Laguna Canyon Road and struck a curb, causing damage to one of the tires. He left his disabled vehicle and began walking. After a few hours, he became disoriented and called his wife for assistance. His cell phone was pinged and the coordinates were provided to OCSD helicopter ‘Duke.’ 

“The helicopter personnel located the male subject in the area of Bommer Ridge. Officers accompanied LBFD personnel in rescuing the male subject. He was transported back to Laguna Canyon Rd. He declined medical assistance and left the area with his brother.”

LBPD urges drivers to be extra cautious on the roads

Sgt Cota urges local residents to be extra cautious while driving.

“During these times of uncertainty, we need to remind ourselves not to panic and increase our speed to reach our destination. We tend to go faster when there is less traffic. Safety remains paramount for all of us. Please slow down when setting out to travel. We will still reach our destination in plenty of time. Be safe!”

Police Files auto collision

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Photo by Scott Brashier

Three-car collision on Thursday in the Canyon

Police Files

Street sweeping parking enforcement suspended

The Public Works Department will continue to perform street sweeping; however, the Police Department has suspended street sweeping parking enforcement in North Laguna Beach and Canyon Acres until further notice.

Animal Shelter closed except by appointment

Effective yesterday, March 16, the Laguna Beach Animal Shelter is closed to the general public, except by appointment, for the remainder of the month.

Residents that need to visit the animal shelter to pick up a recovered pet, schedule an adoption of a pet, or to purchase a dog license, may do so by calling the animal shelter at (949) 497-3552 to schedule an appointment from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m., seven days a week.

Animal Control field operations will continue as normal.

Police Files

Couple arrested on multiple fraud charges after allegedly using stolen card for $8,500 Montage bill

On Monday, March 9, at 5:54 p.m., LBPD officers were dispatched to the Montage Laguna Beach resort, at the 30800 block of South Coast Hwy, for reports of a male who was allegedly unable to pay his bill, a balance of $8,500, and had walked away from the property. 

According to LBPD Spokesperson PIO Sgt Jim Cota, “The subject had left all of his items in the room and his vehicle was locked in the secure valet parking lot. Officers located the subject in the Gelson’s parking lot. He stated he had the funds to pay and asked for a ride back to the resort.”

Montage security took him back to the hotel. 

“At 6:36 p.m., officers were dispatched back to Montage for the same subject who, according to security, was unable to pay his bill,” Sgt Cota said. “Officers responded back to the resort but were unable to locate the subject.” 

Officers were able to get credit card information for the initial deposit of $4,000, which was reportedly declined the day after the male suspect and his female companion checked in to the resort. 

Sgt Cota said, “A fraud investigation confirmed that the credit card had been used fraudulently after contacting the owner of the actual credit card, who stated he filed a fraud claim with his bank when he learned about the $4,000 charge in Laguna Beach, which he never made because he was in Palos Verdes.” 

At about 10:22 p.m., officers were asked to respond back to Montage because the suspect reportedly came back. 

“Officers arrived on scene and immediately located and detained the male and female,” Sgt Cota said. “An investigation was conducted and Jacorey Demon Eugene Sims, 31, and Darmia Lois Morris, 28, were arrested for multiple fraud related charges.”

Bail was set at $80,000 for Sims and $80,000 for Morris.

2.4 grams of meth laying in the street found by citizen

On Monday, March 9, at 5:28 p.m., an LBPD officer responded to the 100 block of Canyon Acres Drive in reference to a found baggie with a white substance inside of it that was laying in the street. 

Sgt Cota said, “On arrival, the officer observed a white plastic baggie with a white crystalized substance inside of it, which they recognized as methamphetamine. The officer took possession of the 2.4 grams of methamphetamine as found property/booked for destruction.”

Editor’s Note: An arrest contains allegations that a suspect has committed a crime. Every suspect is presumed to be innocent until and unless proven guilty in court. 

-By Suzie Harrison

Police Files

Driver loses control and crashes into residence

On Friday, March 6, at 1:23 a.m., LBPD officers responded to a solo vehicle traffic collision in the 600 block of Glenneyre Street. 

According to LBPD Spokesperson PIO Sgt Jim Cota, “The driver of an SUV lost control of his vehicle and drove through the front room of an unoccupied residence. The driver was not under the influence and was not on his cellphone.” 

Police Files car crash

Courtesy of LBPD

SUV careens through the front room of a local residence

Sgt Cota said, “He claimed he was blinded by an oncoming vehicle, panicked, overcorrected, and ended up on the wrong side of the street.” 

According to police records, “Debris, mattresses, and throw pillows were everywhere.” The house looked as though it had “been torn apart.”

The original caller stated, “You can see into the living room.”

Officers completed the investigation and LBFD boarded up the structure after the homeowner responded to the scene.

LBPD delivers DoorDash order after delivery driver was arrested for an outstanding warrant

On Friday, March 6, at 1:03 a.m., an LBPD officer made a traffic stop and contacted the driver who was delivering a Del Taco DoorDash order to a local hotel employee.

The driver was subsequently arrested for an outstanding warrant. 

After the incident, the officer completed the delivery for the customer.

“We at the Laguna Beach Police Department are no stranger to the midnight munchies,” Sgt Cota said. “Due to our caring and empathetic nature, the officer felt obligated to deliver the meal to the thankful recipient.

“If your food delivery ambassador is stopped and has outstanding warrants, we’ll get you your food in 30 minutes or…well, I don’t know, we are a police department after all,” Sgt Cota said.

Three men busted for alleged illegal fishing and drinking, one with an outstanding warrant

On Thursday, March 5, at 1:55 p.m., at the 600 block of Cliff Drive, LBPD officers assisted a marine safety officer with contacting three subjects allegedly drinking alcohol and possibly fishing at Fisherman’s Cove. 

According to police records, “Three men approximately 28-38 years old were fishing from the rocks with six fishing rods and beer bottles near them when they were on the sand.” 

Sgt Cota said, “Beach Patrol Officers and patrol officers met at the top of Shaw’s Cove and contacted the group on the rocks at the north end of Fisherman’s Cove. While the marine officer cited one subject, officers conducted record checks of all three subjects. 

“A check revealed Rudy Corona, 43, had an outstanding bench warrant out of the Orange County for DUI,” Sgt Cota said.

Bail was set at $15,000.

Two male suspects allegedly grab cash from yoga studio and return it when chased down

On Thursday, March 5, at 3:55 p.m., LBPD officers responded to the 1800 block of South Coast Hwy for an alleged theft report. 

Sgt Cota said, “A male subject entered a yoga studio and removed cash from the unlocked drawer. She [an employee from the yoga studio] chased him down South Coast Hwy and he gave the money back to her.” 

“She was unsure if any money was outstanding since they don’t keep track of the money in the cashbox,” Sgt Cota said. 

According to police records, the event was caught on video and two male suspects in their 30s were involved. Both males were wearing long sleeve plaid shirts and black slacks. 

“A report was taken,” Sgt Cota said.

Editor’s Note: An arrest contains allegations that a suspect has committed a crime. Every suspect is presumed to be innocent until and unless proven guilty in court. 

-By Suzie Harrison

Police Files

Drive-by vandalism attack strikes Laguna again

On Saturday, Feb 29, between 6:31 and 8:11 p.m., LBPD officers responded to four vehicle vandalism investigations on Coast Highway from 600 North Coast Hwy to Vista Del Sol.

The first incident was reported at 6:31 p.m., at the 1000 block of South Coast Hwy. According to police reports, a victim reported that the back window of their vehicle was suddenly shattered. A witness reported hearing a pop and seeing something hit the victim’s car.

Four minutes later, at 6:31 p.m., at South Coast Hwy and Vista Del Sol, another victim reported that “a large rock” was thrown at their windshield while they were driving northbound on South Coast Hwy.

Then, at 7:26 p.m., at the 600 block of North Coast Hwy, a victim reported that her window was suddenly, completely shattered while she was parked on North Coast Hwy. According to dispatch logs, she believed that someone might have purposefully shot a BB gun or thrown something at her vehicle.

The final incident occurred at 8:11 p.m., at South Coast Hwy and Aliso Circle. A victim reported that a “rock hit [their] windshield, broke it, and damaged the roof” while they were driving northbound on South Coast Hwy.

LBPD Spokesperson PIO Sgt Cota said, “Rocks appeared to be the instrument used to cause the damage this time. The suspect vehicle was described as a dark four-door sedan. These crimes are similar to the vandalisms that occurred in our city on Friday, Feb 21.”

The cities of Newport Beach, Huntington Beach, and Seal Beach also had similar vandalisms occur Saturday night. 

Sgt Cota said, “The suspects were not located.”

Two men caught on video in connection with three alleged incidents of wine theft worth $1,500 

On Thursday, Feb 27, at approximately 11:38 a.m., an LBPD officer was dispatched to Whole Foods, at 283 Broadway St, in reference to a report of multiple incidents of alleged petty theft caught on video. 

Sgt Cota said, “The reporting party advised that two men were caught on camera stealing $500 worth of wine during each incident. The incidents occurred on Wednesday, Feb 19, Thursday, Feb 20, and Wednesday, Feb 26. This case will be submitted to the Investigations Division.”

Editor’s Note: An arrest contains allegations that a suspect has committed a crime. Every suspect is presumed to be innocent until and unless proven guilty in court. 

-By Suzie Harrison

Police Files

Man arrested for arson after allegedly igniting newspapers on fire in the canyon

On Tuesday, Feb 25, at 5:22 a.m., LBPD and LBFD personnel responded to the area of Laguna Canyon Road in reference to a vegetation fire.

According to LBPD Spokesperson PIO Sgt Jim Cota, “The reporting party described the male suspect to be wearing a white robe and standing near the flares as the fire was burning.” 

Sgt Cota said, “Upon the officers’ arrival, the fire had been extinguished and the male suspect was contacted just a few yards away from the original location of the fire. It was determined the suspect, Brent Aaron Morita, 42, was the one who started the fire with newspapers, and has done so in the past as well.” 

Morita was arrested for alleged arson.

No bail was set.

Suspect arrested after allegedly threatening to cut a person for not giving him money

On Wednesday, Feb 26, at 9:16 a.m., Anthony Tabarsi, 54, was reported to have been screaming at pedestrians near 200 Forest Ave. 

According to Sgt Cota, “He [allegedly] yelled at the reporting person for not giving him money and then said, ‘I will cut you.’ He [allegedly] reached into his pocket and the victim backed away about 50 feet while yelling at him. Tabarsi was located by officers and later identified during a field show-up.” 

Sgt Cota said, “He was arrested for [alleged] terrorist threats and later transferred to OC Jail.”

Bail was set at $50,000.

No laughing matter: Two adults and one minor arrested on nitrous oxide charges

On Wednesday, Feb 26, at 6:38 a.m., LBPD officers were sent to the 100 block of Crescent Bay Drive after a resident saw passengers inside of a BMW who appeared to be inhaling something from balloons. 

According to Sgt Cota, “Officers contacted two adults and one juvenile from Santa Ana. The subjects were found in possession of balloons and a tank of nitrous oxide.” 

Sgt Cota said, “The minor driver admitted to borrowing his mother’s vehicle without her permission. A 20-year-old rear passenger admitted to buying the nitrous tank. He was charged with possessing/using nitrous oxide, [known as] laughing gas, and contributing to the delinquency of a minor.” 

Sgt Cota said, “The juvenile and the other adult were also charged with possessing/using nitrous oxide.”

Editor’s Note: An arrest contains allegations that a suspect has committed a crime. Every suspect is presumed to be innocent until and unless proven guilty in court. 

  -By Suzie Harrison

Police Files

Vandalism “shooting spree” damages local stores, homes, and cars

On Friday, Feb 21, at approximately 7:52 p.m., LBPD Dispatch began receiving multiple calls regarding vandalisms to windows of businesses, homes, and vehicles between the areas of 1400 N Coast Hwy to 1500 S Coast Hwy.

According to LBPD Spokesperson PIO Sgt Jim Cota, “A pellet gun appeared to be used in the vandalisms. The suspect vehicle was described as a dark gray four-door sedan. Officers were unable to locate the suspects.” 

According to police records, the first incident took place at 7:56 p.m., at the 1300 block of S Coast Hwy. “The RP was stopped going southbound when someone threw something against the RP’s vehicle and hit the RP’s head. The window was shattered; there was a mark on the vehicle.” According to dispatch logs, the RP declined medical attention. 

Later at 8:05 p.m., at Anita Street and S Coast Hwy, LBPD received a call regarding a front windshield of a vehicle that “was hit and damaged.”

Thirteen minutes later, at 8:18 p.m., at the 1500 block of S Coast Hwy, an incident was reported in reference to a broken window at a resident’s home. 

Then at 8:57 p.m., at the 700 block of S Coast Hwy, a caller reported [an unspecified business] that a “front window was broken and glass was falling.”  According to dispatch logs, the “window was dropping large chunks of glass on the sidewalk, making it unsafe.” The RP said the weapon was “possibly a pellet gun and the window was still cracking.” The owner was contacted and advised by LBPD.

Later at 7:52 p.m., at Cottage Furnishings, at the 800 block of S Coast Hwy, LBPD received a report that “someone drove by and threw something at the window and the window was all cracked.” As Sgt Cota reported, the RP said the suspect was driving a “dark grey four-door sedan.”

Another incident that occurred on Friday was reported Saturday, Feb 23, at 11:40 a.m., at the 1300 block of S Coast Hwy. A store manager reported a “shattered display window that occurred sometime last night.”

Police Files Vandal Shootings Vertigo Home

Click on photo for a larger image 

Courtesy of Vertigo Home Facebook 

Vertigo Home was hit during a vandalism “shooting spree” on Feb 22

And Vertigo Home, at 1550 S Coast Hwy, was also targeted on Friday. According to their Facebook page, a display window was shattered. The post on Saturday morning said, “Fortunately, no monkeys were injured during last night’s drive by shooting,” in reference to a Seletti brand monkey lamp in the front window.

Lastly, on Saturday, at 12:49 p.m., at S Coast Hwy and Nyes Place, LBPD received a report of a “black Mercedes driver side window that was hit by something, possibly rocks or a BB gun.”

Sgt Cota said, “The investigation is ongoing.”

LBPD helps NBPD with alleged stolen car arrest

On Monday, Feb 24, at 12:25 a.m., LBPD officers were alerted to an alleged stolen vehicle coming into Laguna Beach. The officers eventually located the vehicle near El Moro (Crystal Cove) travelling northbound into Newport Beach. 

According to Sgt Cota, “One officer was able to get assistance from NBPD and a high-risk car stop was conducted at Poppy Street and Coast Highway. The vehicle was reported stolen out of Newport Beach.”

Sgt Cota said, “The female driver was detained and after an investigation it was uncovered that the reported stolen may be part of an insurance fraud scam.”

According to Sgt Cota, NBPD agreed to assume responsibility of the case since it originated in their city, the vehicle was recovered in their city, and the suspects live in Newport Beach.

Local unlicensed teen allegedly takes parents’ car without permission, overturns it and is found injured

On Monday, Feb 24, at 12:42 a.m., LBPD officers responded to a traffic collision with injuries involving an overturned vehicle at El Toro Rd and Laguna Canyon Rd. 

According to Sgt Cota, “Officers were informed that the vehicle was on fire, but the driver was out of the vehicle. Officers arrived and discovered that the vehicle was on fire, but officers were able to extinguish the fire with a fire extinguisher.”

Sgt Cota said, “The solo occupant and driver was found to be an unlicensed 17-year-old teenager, who had taken the vehicle without parental permission. Due to the nature of the accident and the fact that the driver was a juvenile, LBFD transported the female to Mission Hospital for a medical evaluation.”

The vehicle allegedly hit a metal no pedestrian crossing pole, which caused the vehicle to flip upside down. The vehicle was towed from the scene and a collision report was taken.

Editor’s Note: An arrest contains allegations that a suspect has committed a crime. Every suspect is presumed to be innocent until and unless proven guilty in court.

  -By Suzie Harrison

Police Files

Overall crime in Laguna Beach decreases for second year in a row

Laguna Beach continues to boast an extremely low crime rate. For the second year in a row, LBPD is again pleased to announce that overall crime has decreased in 2019.

Crime statistics comparing 2018 to 2019 show a 4 percent overall reduction in crime (from 576 total crimes in 2018 to 556 total crimes in 2019), which is difficult to achieve after enjoying a 14 percent crime reduction in 2018. Property crime, specifically larceny, decreased 18 percent from 316 reported incidents in 2018, to 257 reported in 2019. 

This reduction is the direct result of fewer beach thefts due to intensified foot patrols directly on the sand and in the parks adjacent to the beach. 

Police Files Property Crimes Stats

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Courtesy of LBPD

Property crime decreased by 15 percent last year

In 2019, there was an increase in simple assaults, which was mostly attributed to domestic violence incidents. There was also a slight increase in reported sexual assaults. These incidents are from known assailants, reports LBPD.

LBPD uses a data-driven approach to track crime on a monthly and yearly basis, effectively identifying and targeting specific crimes and problem areas through creative strategies, enforcement, and community engagement and education. 

Police Files Violent Crimes Stats

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Courtesy of LBPD

Violent crime statistics for Laguna Beach

This ongoing and active evaluation of how to positively impact an issue is directly related to LBPD’s success. Having officers assigned to address the community’s specific needs has proven successful. These assignments include Community Outreach Officers, a Business Liaison Unit, School Resource Officers, and Traffic Officers to mention a few. 

“The overall decrease in crime is attributed to having the highest staffing levels, a data driven approach to impact repeat call locations, and the support from the community and City Council on initiatives such as the Main Beach and Heisler Park engagement booths,” said LBPD Chief Laura Farinella.“The men and women of the Laguna Beach Police Department are to be commended for their diligent efforts in identifying crime and nuisance issues and working with the community to find innovative strategies to impact these challenges.”

Shaena Stabler is the Owner, Publisher & Editor.

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Alexis Amaradio, Barbara Diamond, Dennis McTighe, Diane Armitage, Marrie Stone, Maggi Henrikson, Samantha Washer, and Suzie Harrison are our writers and/or columnists. Scott Brashier is our photographer.

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