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Laguna Beach


Police Files

Repeat offender caught with stolen steak from Ralphs

On Friday, Dec 21 at 4:28 p.m., at the 200 block at St. Ann’s Drive, an LBPD officer observed Reese Westenberger from the rear parking lot of the Woman’s Club holding a Duraflame log and a Christmas stocking. 

According to reports, Westenberger did not see the officer as he crouched behind a retaining wall and began to stuff the log into the stocking.

“The officer contacted Westenberger and also noticed a large bulge underneath his coat. The officer inquired about what he was concealing. Westenberger admitted that he had food items in his coat, as he pulled out a package of tortillas and three pounds of ribeye steak,” LBPD Spokesperson PIO Sgt Jim Cota said. “He claimed a women gave it to him as a charitable gift although he had no bag. A review of video surveillance showed Westenberger was inside the supermarket [Ralphs] carrying the items and exiting the store.”

According to LBPD, the total loss was $61.21. Westenberger was not allowed in Ralphs anymore because he is a repeat offender of stealing items, Cota explained.

Reese Mitchel Westenberger, 53, was arrested and taken into custody for possession of stolen property and possession of narcotic paraphernalia, a hypodermic needle located in the pocket of his jacket.

Since May 1, 2018, over an 8-month period, Westenberger has been arrested eight times by LBPD, according to Stu News Laguna records. He has also been arrested two times by Newport Beach Police Department in that same time.

Bail was set at $500.

Local man struck by vehicle while allegedly intoxicated still in critical condition

As previously reported in Stu News, on Wednesday, Dec 26, at 7:21 p.m., LBPD and LBFD responded to an injury traffic collision involving a vehicle versus a pedestrian on South Coast Hwy between Laguna Avenue and Legion Street, in the southbound lanes.

“After speaking to witnesses and the driver involved in the collision, it was established the pedestrian, William Hemphill, was heavily intoxicated,” said Sgt Cota. According to witness reports, “Hemphill staggered into the roadway and was struck by a vehicle. Hemphill was not responsive at the scene and was transported to Mission Hospital, Mission Viejo.”

William Edward Hemphill, 68, suffered critical injuries, including a laceration to spleen, fracture to face, spine, pelvis, hip, and ribs.

“Hemphill was unconscious upon arrival at hospital and was kept sedated,” Sgt Cota said. “As of Saturday, William Hemphill is still in critical condition in an induced coma.” 

According to police, the driver of the vehicle did not display any signs and symptoms of alcohol intoxication.

Tree falls on Laguna streets, blocking intersection

On Friday, Dec 28, at 8:53 a.m., LBPD and LBFD received a call about a fallen tree branch blocking an intersection at Santa Cruz and Agate Street.

According to police logs, the tree hit wires on the way down, but the wires stayed intact. A neighbor tried to drag the tree out of the way but it was too big.

“Laguna Engine 2 was dispatched to a report of a tree branch that fell into the street and was blocking the intersection,” said LBFD Chief Api Weinert. “Upon our arrival we found a large tree branch in the intersection. LE2 crew moved tree branches off to the side of the street for the responsible party to dispose of.”

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