Laguna Beach

Police Files

Video shows man who passed bogus bills at Orange Inn

This month, the Orange Inn and other local businesses have received counterfeit bills – both fifties and hundreds. The Orange Inn was hit with one of each last week.

The restaurant reviewed its surveillance video with the employees who were working when the bills were passed and placed the bogus bills with one man. The images were turned over to the LBPD and a Crime Bulletin was created to ask for any information you may have and to alert other merchants to be on the lookout for the man.

The LBPD Bulletin:

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Animal services “relocates” rattlesnake from fire road

Eileen Moskow took this photo of Animal Services Officer John Thompson as he convinced a rattlesnake to move off the fire road near Moulton Meadows Tuesday.

Eileen wrote, “The snake was sunning itself on the fire road and folks walking almost stepped on it and called the PD. The pesky snake wanted to stay!” 

Police Files

Trio has poor timing for a grab and run burglary from downtown store; a cop was driving up the street as they ran to getaway car 


An officer was on routine patrol in the 200 block of Forest Avenue at 6:08 p.m. Saturday when he saw a young female and a male running from Robin’s Jean. Both had “…arms full of merchandise…towards a getaway vehicle parked on Forest Avenue,” according to a Thursday afternoon press release from LBPD spokesman Jordan Villwock.

“After a short foot pursuit and with the assistance of additional officers, a total of three suspects were detained at the getaway vehicle and subsequently arrested.”

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A suspect is taken into custody after the female had been apprehended

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A second suspect was removed from the vehicle and arrested

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Officers approach the vehicle to be sure it was cleared per standard protocol

The press release identified the two men arrested as Matthew Morgan, 21 and Geron Funches, 20, both of Los Angeles. The female, 16, also from LA, was held and later released to a parent at the police station. All three were charged with felony burglary and conspiracy to commit a crime.

The two leaving the store dropped merchandise valued at $11,553 in the street where it was recovered and held as evidence. 

Forest Avenue was opened a short time later according to the press release.

Police Files

Teen brandished a handgun when interrupted by the owner of a vehicle he was trying to hot wire Monday

The owner of an El Camino parked at Glenneyre and Park Avenue saw a male teenager inside trying to hot wire the vehicle Monday morning. The owner yelled to the teen to get out and the teen lifted his shirt exposing what appeared to be a handgun, LBPD spokesman Jordan Villwock said.

Villwock added, “While the victim was calling the police the suspect advised it was not a real gun however that was never confirmed and the incident is still under investigation.”

According to the police log, the suspect was last seen running down Ramona Avenue. Police did an area search but were not able to locate him.

Laguna PD joins national campaign to end distracted driving 

Distracted driving is such an important safety issue that April is recognized as National Distracted Driving Awareness Month. In California, Police, Sheriff and CHP officials are joining the Office of Traffic Safety, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), and the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB), as well as law enforcement throughout the country, working together to focus on education as well as enforcement. 

The purpose of the campaign is to raise awareness about the dangers of distracted driving in an attempt to change behavior and save lives, not just in April but also year-round. The Laguna Beach Police Department will join statewide enforcement campaigns this month, “zero tolerance days,” when all agencies will be especially vigilant for distracted drivers. 

Distracted driving continues to be a problem, especially as the use of Smartphones increases. Although such crashes are often difficult to prove, California had at least 84 fatal distracted driving collisions in 2013, 85 in 2014 and 67 in 2015, with the actual number of cases likely higher. The number of injury collisions for the same three-year period shows an increase: 10,078 in 2013; 10,463 in 2014, and 11,023 in 2015. NHTSA data for 2014 show nationwide, 3,179 people died in distracted driving collisions, which is 10% of all crash fatalities. An additional 431,000 people, or 18%, were injured in motor vehicle collisions involving distracted drivers. 

“As we rely on our cell phones more and more in our everyday lives, we seem to be kidding ourselves in thinking that they don’t affect our driving,” said OTS Director Rhonda Craft. “Crashes are up. The scientific evidence is solid. The dangers are real, and they apply to all of us. We need to silence the distractions.” The problem of distracted driving is significant, and no surprise to drivers day in and day out. 

The California Office of Traffic Safety, Police, Sheriff and the CHP reminds everyone that best way to end distracted driving is to educate all Americans about the danger it poses.

Police Files

Stolen car hits 100 MPH thru Laguna Canyon while being chased by Santa Ana PD; stop made in No Lag

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Photo by Tom Crank

Santa Ana PD, OC Sheriff’s units, CHP and LBPD all pursued the stolen Honda in this photograph before it was stopped headed the wrong way on Monterey Drive near Poplar Street in North Laguna last Thursday afternoon. The Honda hit speeds of 100 mph on Laguna Canyon Road, police said. LBPD officers used a spike strip in the 600 block of Laguna Canyon Road flattening the two tires on the left side. The driver managed to keep going until being stopped in North Laguna. Santa Ana officers detained and arrested the suspect at about 3:30 p.m.

If you get drunk, yell and fight in a car, put the top up

9-1-1 callers last Wednesday afternoon reported that a female passenger in a convertible was screaming loudly that she wanted to be let out of the car. The callers said the convertible, with its top down, had left northbound.

Police stopped the car on Hillcrest Drive near Riddle Field at 4:35.

After speaking with the man who was driving and the woman passenger who had been screaming, LBPD officers arrested Newport Beach resident Gemma Johnson, 37, for being drunk in public, violation of a court protective order and felony domestic battery. Her bail was $50,000.

Police Files

Goats escape their enclosure on Bluebird Canyon Dr.

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Photo by Carter Fraser

It was goats, goats and more goats on Bluebird Canyon Drive late Monday night. Carter Fraser, LBHS senior, wrote that the goats leased by the city to mitigate the potential fuel supply for wildfires had escaped the enclosure by the tennis courts along the creek bed. They meandered down to the intersection of Oriole Drive devouring plants along the way. Oh, that’s at least one thing they’re known for…

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Photo by Mike Johnson

Cops arrive on scene in time to thwart potential burglar in business complex on Laguna Canyon Rd

At 4:45 Tuesday morning, a 9-1-1 caller reported that a man’s shadow had been seen and the door to the caller’s studio had been nudged. The call came from a business complex that houses a number of artists’ studios in the 3200 block of Laguna Canyon Road.

Once on scene, it didn’t take police long to locate and detain Buena Park resident James Marinow, 31.

Police said Marinow was arrested for felony attempted burglary with bail set at $50,000. His probation officer was contacted per protocol and immediately ordered that he be held without bail for probation violation.

DUI enforcement operations planned Saturday overnight

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, April 2, between the hours of 9 p.m. and 3 a.m. in areas with high frequencies of DUI collisions and/or arrests. 

Over the course of the past three years in Laguna Beach officers have investigated 169 DUI collisions, which have claimed three lives and resulted in another 55 injuries. 

Law Enforcement emphasizes the preventable nature of drunk driving reminding everyone that all it takes is a little planning ahead. Designate a sober driver or call a cab. But whatever you do, don’t drink and drive. The cost of a ride home is cheap, nothing compared to a $10,000 DUI conviction and the ‘inconvenience’ of not driving your car home is nothing compared to the inconvenience of spending time behind bars. 

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 Drivers – Call 9-1-1’.

Police Files

Yes – that really was an adult sea lion on Coast Hwy

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Still from a video courtesy

of Danny Rendon of

Stop N Go – North Laguna

An adult sea lion stopped traffic in both directions for several minutes when it tried crossing N. Coast Hwy near Cajon Street Monday morning before 7 a.m. Police responded and held off the traffic until animal services and a rescue unit from Pacific Marine Mammal Center arrived. It was gently coaxed off onto a lot next to Midas where PMMC safely captured it and took it for observation.

Felony hit and run driver pulled over on 405 Fwy

Police and paramedics responded to a report of a hit and run injury crash outbound on Laguna Canyon Road near the dog park at 5:22 p.m. Saturday. One person was injured, police said.

One LBPD patrol unit hurried out Laguna Canyon Road and located the suspect vehicle on the 133 heading onto the northbound 5 Freeway. A stop was made near Jeffrey Road and the 405.

In the process, the hit and run driver, Allan Anthony Bulsiewicz, 68, Seal Beach, was involved in another crash. Details of the second crash were unavailable Monday.

Bulsiewicz was arrested for DUI and felony hit and run causing injury.

Police Files

Man arrested in men’s room after pulling a knife on another man

Chad Garcia, 30, Garden Grove, was arrested for assault with a deadly weapon just after midnight Friday after brandishing a knife and threatening another man.

A security guard was also in the Marine Room men’s room at the time and heard the threats. The guard escorted Garcia outside where they awaited the arrival of Laguna Beach Police officers.

Garcia was taken into custody for the felony charge without incident according to LBPD Sgt. Tim Kleiser. 

Bail was set at $25,000. 

Hacienda Heights man arrested after trying to smash store window

Police responded to the 300 block of Forest Avenue at 11:35 p.m. Saturday after a man was seen trying to smash the window of a store with a rock.

Jake Tineo, 20, of Hacienda Heights was detained while still in front of the store window when officers arrived on scene. The witness who had called 9-1-1 verified that the cops had their man.

Sgt. Tim Kleiser said Monday, “The window at the business had marks on it from a rock that the male was using to try and break it. They also saw that a nearby mailbox was opened and mail was scattered on the ground. Some of the mail had been opened.”

Tineo was arrested for felony attempted burglary and misdemeanor mail theft.

He was booked here and taken to county jail with bail of $20,000.

Police Files

Boy, 17, with no license, nabbed for speeding with 5-yr-old in car

A Laguna Beach PD motor officer stopped a car on North Coast Highway near Irvine Cove Drive for speeding at 9:49 Sunday morning.

When the officer spoke to the driver, he learned that he was a 17-year-old without a driver’s license. He had also been reported as a missing juvenile but police were able to confirm that he had returned home but that had not been reported to police.

There were three passengers with the 17-year-old – boys 5 and 13 who were his brothers and a 19-year-old friend.

The officer also detected something else – a definite odor of marijuana. Once an additional officer was on scene, an investigation for pot began. The 19-year-old soon admitted to having more marijuana and a small amount was located in his shirt. He was issued a citation for possession of less than an ounce of marijuana.

Police detained the three juveniles from Costa Mesa and took them to the police station where they were released to an adult family member after further investigation.

It is possible that additional charges might stem from the incident.

Police Files

The details of what happened at Cress Street Friday

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Photo by Chris Tomlin

The OC Sheriff’s SWAT Team rescue vehicle at Cress Street Friday

The following is a statement from the La Casa Del Camino Hotel and has been verified through the LBPD by Stu News Laguna as being accurate.

Around 6:45 a.m., several guests reported a perfume-like odor and complained of itchy eyes and sore throats. As a precaution, a member of hotel staff phoned the Laguna Beach Fire Department. 

Firefighters arrived promptly on the scene and began conducting voluntary evacuations as a precaution. Police were requested by the LBFD at 7:15.  

Avila’s El Ranchito and the Surf and Sand Resort stepped in to lend a hand. Michael Avila assured La Casa Del Camino they could move their guests over to El Ranchito even though they weren’t even open yet. The Surf and Sand generously offered a room for the overflow as well.

During these evacuations, a guest on the third floor who appeared to have a negative reaction to the smell, refused to evacuate his room. 

Around 7:30 a.m., the Orange County Sheriff’s Department Bomb Squad and SWAT team, along with the Orange County Fire Authority’s Hazmat unit were called to the hotel in order to investigate the suspicious circumstances and identify the source of the smell. The scene was immediately contained and no threat was present to the Laguna Beach Community. 

“The SWAT team went into the room [at 2:30]. We did not locate the individual. We did not see anything suspicious,” said Laguna Beach Police Department Emergency Operation Coordinator Jordan Villwock. “It’s believed that the subject possibly left before our arrival this morning.” 

After a thorough search of the establishment, no threat was found. The smell was caused by a bottle of cologne being left unattended on a heater. 

Despite complaints of feeling ill, no hotel guests have been hospitalized or reported any injures due to these events. 

“This is a good exercise for us to go through as hoteliers,” said owner Chris Keller. “The Fire Department and the Police Department have been outstanding. Our guests are really amazing and understanding. This is how a community comes together.”

La Casa Del Camino and its restaurant concepts reopened at 4 o’clock and guests were allowed to return to their rooms. 

Details & update on the Arch Beach Heights house fire

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Photo by Christina Shook

The home that burned on La Mirada Street Thursday night (and reported in our Friday edition) was completely destroyed according to the Laguna Beach Fire Department. Two firefighters were treated at the scene for minor injuries.

LB Fire Chief Jeff LaTendresse said there were two unusual circumstances about the call that came in just after six o’clock. “Our dispatchers had just received a call about multiple fire alarms in a multi-unit building on S. Coast Highway and a full structure response was dispatched.

“As those units were responding, the La Mirada Street calls came in and it was quickly apparent that we had the probability of a fire there.”

A second structure response was dispatched meaning eight fire engines and three ladder trucks were responding to calls in Laguna Beach at the same time.

Chief LaTendresse redirected the first response apparatus, which included all four Laguna Beach engines, from the alarm call to Arch Beach Heights. 

The call on S. Coast Highway turned out to be a false alarm.

Chief LaTendresse then explained the second unusual circumstance. “The lower levels of the home on La Mirada Street were fully involved almost immediately; probably at the same time the home’s fire alarms went off.

“Our engines could see the flash [of massive flames] quickly as they were responding and we were able to call it a working fire Justas quickly. That meant a second alarm and because of the false alarm call downtown, the second alarm response was already en route.”

Eight fire engines and three ladder trucks were in Arch Beach Heights within minutes of the call and that made a big difference in keeping the massive flames from spreading to any neighboring residences.

There were two people in the residence at the time of the fire. Chief LaTendresse said they were able to get outside quickly. “One of the women decided to go back inside in an attempt to save her pet birds. A neighbor saw that and followed her to extoll that she needed to leave, which she said she was doing because there was too much smoke for her to stay. She did not require any assistance for smoke inhalation.”

The three pet birds perished in the flames. 

The cause of the fire is still being determined.

For the record – police will be looking closely for drunk drivers who over-celebrated St. Patrick’s Day 

Laguna Beach Police will have beefed up DUI saturation units on the streets of town Thursday night – St. Patrick’s Day.

Don’t drink and drive and if you see a suspected impaired driver, don’t hesitate – call 9-1-1 immediately.

Police Files

Blaze destroys hillside home in Arch Beach Heights last night

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LBHS student Beebe Bedell took this photo from her deck across the street shortly after the fire was first spotted by neighbors who began calling 9-1-1

Seven 9-1-1 calls came in at the emergency dispatch center in town shortly after six o’clock Thursday evening all reporting that flames and heavy smoke were seen in the 1200 block of La Mirada Street.

When the first Laguna fire engine arrived on scene, it reported that a hillside structure was “fully involved” with fire. 

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Mary Hurlbut took this from Temple Hills. It shows the hillside home fully involved

Once a command was established and other apparatus arrived, it was clear to firefighters that they needed a defensive approach to protect neighboring homes from the intense blaze. The burning residence was tiered down the hillside with multiple sublevels. All levels were engulfed in flame.

A second alarm was called and the flames were confined to the original residence. It took firefighters nearly an hour to knock the flames down to a point where they felt it safe to enter sublevels and douse the fire inside.

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Photo by Ryen Caen


Firefighters scurry to haul hose to an attack point to get water on the flames.

The residents were at home and managed to escape the flames, a witness said.

The cause of the fire was not determined last night. We will update this story when more information is known.

SF man saw the sign and was given ample time to read it

An officer pulled over a car for speeding near Alta Laguna Blvd and Tree Top Lane early this past Saturday morning. When the driver was questioned, it became apparent that he had a suspended license. His passenger, Mary Jane Madrid, 31 of Costa Mesa, had two misdemeanor warrants and she was arrested.

A search of the car led to the discovery of a glass meth pipe and the driver was arrested for two misdemeanor charges – possession of drug paraphernalia and driving with a suspended license.

Both were taken to the police station. Inside the sally port prior to entering the jail booking area, there is a sign that is pointed out to all prisoners who are given plenty of time to read it and they are asked if they understand it.

It makes it clear that it is a serious crime to being any contraband into a jail in the state of California. Dustin Patton, 25, San Francisco, said he understood the sign.

In the jail, officers found a baggy of methamphetamine on Patton and he was charged with misdemeanor possession of a controlled substance and felony bringing a controlled substance into a jail.

The bail on the simple drug possession charge is $500. 

The bail for the felony charge is $25,000.

Shaena Stabler is the Owner, Publisher & Editor.

Dianne Russell is our Associate Editor & Writer.

Michael Sterling is our Webmaster & Designer.

Mary Hurlbut is our Chief Photographer.

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

Stacia Stabler is our Social Media Manager & Writer.

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