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Laguna Beach

Police Files

Alleged “open house” burglars arrested

Two suspects accused of wreaking havoc on local homeowners and realtors in a spree of burglaries occurring during “open houses,” including three incidents in late May in Laguna Beach, were arrested by the Huntington Beach Police Department (HBPD) on Wednesday, June 19, according to Laguna Beach Police Department (LBPD) Spokesperson PIO Sgt Jim Cota.

HBPD arrested Sara Neal and Richard Maloney in relation to a series of residential burglaries occurring during realtor “open house” events.

According to Sgt Cota, the suspect’s allegedly posted as potential buyers, with the male distracting the listing agent while the female suspect quickly went from room to room stealing desired items. “LBPD officers and detectives quickly narrowed in on two suspects through the use of video surveillance, victim/witness photo lineups, and law enforcement databases,” Sgt Cota said.

HBPD arrested Sara Jane Neal, 28, of Whittier, on two counts of alleged burglary, conspiracy, identity theft, and one count of alleged grand theft. Neal’s bail was set at $110,000. Richard Shea Maloney, 29, also of Whittier, was arrested on two counts of alleged burglary and conspiracy and one count of alleged identity theft. Maloney’s bail was set at $50,000.

“On Sunday, May 26, and then on the following day, LBPD received three reported thefts from three different residences in the city,” Sgt Cota said. “All of the victims who reported a theft were discovered to have hosted ‘open houses’ earlier that day.” 

A petty theft incident was reported during an “open house” at the 700 block of Manzanita Drive on that Sunday, at 6:36 p.m. The victim was a local realtor.

According to police reports, her purse was taken along with her driver’s license, a credit card, an iPhone, and approximately $20 in cash. The suspects reportedly began using her credit card in nearby cities immediately, before being shut down.

Another “open house” burglary occurred on Monday, May 27, at 1:12 p.m.

“During an open house at a residence on North Vista De Catalina, unknown suspects entered the residence and stole approximately $4,700 in camera equipment, personal items, and jewelry,” Sgt Cota said at the time.

A report was taken and forwarded to Investigations. On Tuesday, June 25, LBPD detectives interviewed Neal and Maloney at Orange County Jail. 

“Neal admitted to the Laguna Beach crimes, while Maloney remained vague about his involvement,” Sgt Cota said. “Neal and Maloney are believed to be responsible for over seven residential burglaries related to ‘open houses’ throughout the state.”

LBPD has not filed charges yet.

According to the OC Sheriff’s Department, the duo is due in court on July 1.

Man arrested for alleged battery of woman at the beach

On Tuesday, June 25, at 12:35 a.m., LBPD officers responded to the 600 block of South Coast Highway in reference to an alleged battery report involving a male and female. 

According to LBPD Sgt Jim Cota, “The female victim reported Brian O’Connor had assaulted her on the beach and was currently sleeping at the bottom of Sleepy Hollow stairs. The two had been drinking all day together and O’Connor [allegedly] became violent and hit the female.” 

“She was desirous of prosecution and officers located O’Connor on the beach,” Sgt Cota said.

According to police records, the suspect and the victim met earlier in the day. 

Brian Kieth Michael O’Connor, 51, was placed under a private person’s arrest for alleged battery and transported to the LB Jail. 

His bail was set at $500.

According to Stu News records, O’Connor has been arrested by LBPD an additional 23 times since September 2018 for various alleged offenses.

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

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