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Police Files

LBPD says aloha to gun-toting man in Hawaiian shirt

It’s bad enough that the suspect was smoking in public, which is illegal in Laguna Beach, but the real smoking gun turned out to be the one he had concealed.

That’s what was discovered on Wednesday, March 28 at 6:39 p.m., when officers contacted two subjects smoking cigarettes while sitting on the roof of a car in the Circle K parking lot, located at the 800 Block of Glenneyre Street. 

LBPD spokesperson Sgt Jim Cota explained, “Las Vegas resident Dakoda Scott Mah, 20, was found to have a loaded Glock 19 handgun concealed in his waistband. He was arrested for carrying a concealed firearm and possession of a loaded firearm.”

Obviously, the smokers were not patrons since Circle K is closed for renovations, so parking there wasn’t the right thing to do either, which sparked another reason for Mah, a truck grill installer, to be grilled.  

Mah was booked at the Laguna Beach Police Department and later released. Bail was set at $1,000. The Vegas man must have had Lady Luck on his side: no smoking violation tickets were issued. First offense for smoking in public in Laguna Beach can carry a $100 fine and up to $500 for a third violation.

“If any of our citizens see an individual with a gun or any weapon that can be used in a violent action, please call 9-1-1,” advised Sgt Cota. “If you see anyone smoking in public in Laguna Beach, please call our non-emergency line at (949) 497-0701.”

 

Battery suspect’s phone leads to his arrest: he gets slapped with assault and a DUI

Early morning Wednesday,March 28 at 1:27 a.m., LBPD responded to a call reporting an assault in the 1400 Block of South Coast Highway. 

“Officers responded to the rear of Main Street Bar & Cabaret (aka Bounce). Officers went there in response to the report of an assault and battery that had just occurred,” said Sgt Cota. “The victim suffered minor injuries after confronting the suspect, whom he said was using homophobic slurs towards him and a friend.”

The suspect, Ryan Ross Harris, 22, of Huntington Beach, reportedly punched the victim in the face and then fled the scene, accidentally leaving his cell phone behind. Officers were able to locate him in the 2700 Block of Victoria Drive, as he attempted to flee in a vehicle, said Sgt Cota.

After the victim positively identified Harris as the assailant, Harris was not only arrested for threat of force and battery, but also for a DUI. Bail was set at $2,500.

“This is a very unfortunate situation that has taken place in town that will not be tolerated. Laguna Beach Police Department acted swiftly in getting the suspect into custody for several charges, while making sure the victim was cared for in an appropriate manner,” said Sgt Cota.

 

School bus was hit but luckily no one was injured

On Monday, March 26 at 3:09 p.m., a non-injury accident involving a school bus with over 20 kids on board occurred at Aster Street. Luckily, no one was injured.

Deborah Paswaters, who teaches art masters at El Morro Elementary, said, “My daughter was in the bus along with several of my students when the accident occurred.”

 “I’d called Durham when she hadn’t arrived home, then finally got through to someone,” she said. “I was informed the bus was hit. We had to wait over an hour before we could take our children off the bus.”

Click on photo for a larger image

Courtesy of Deborah Paswaters

Paswaters’ children Dani and Bear Ward, pointing to “the big scrape”

While everyone seemed physically ok, Paswaters continued, some of the children were obviously shaken and emotional.

“It got swiped turning right onto Aster Street on the lower right side of the middle of the bus,” Paswaters said. “The kids were being good spirits and good sports.”

 

LBPD is not only outstanding in service but also at getting a laugh on social media

While humor is not a requirement to be an LBPD officer, it might just win the department an award. 

“The LBPD Media Team is honored to be named as a finalist for a 2018 Golden Post Award in Best Use of Humor on Social Media” from Government Social Media,” said LBPD in a recent Facebook post.

Laguna’s entry was “Crime Reports with a Literary Twist.”

The GSMO recognized the LBPD for “how we effectively communicate our crime log with some light humor,” said Jordan Villwock, Emergency Operations Coordinator.

The Government Social Media Organization (GSMO) is an advisory institute and networking group for government social media managers nationwide. 

The GSMO award committee reviewed 175 entries to select finalists in five categories. The winners in each category will be revealed during a ceremony at the 2018 Government Social Media Conference & Expo (GSMCON) in Denver, Colorado on April 25. #Lagunaforgold!


Police Files

Unlucky 17 for Hobie vandal caught on video breaking bad

On Friday, March 30 at 9:36 p.m., officers responded to a report of a shattered front window at Hobie Surf Shop on Forest Avenue. 

Initial witness reports indicated that four male subjects may have been associated with the crime. When LBPD located the subjects a few blocks away, they fled from the officers, but two were caught and detained. It turned out that they were juveniles in possession of alcohol. At the time, there was nothing linking them to the vandalism. They were transported to the police station where parents were notified to pick them up. 

So the minors were in the clear, when officers cleared the business and found no one inside, and no evidence that any suspects made entry.

On the scene shortly after the incident was Hobie owner Mark Christy. “Police responded and called me even before we got the alarm call. We have high-definition cameras all over all of our stores, so they had a clear image of the guy within five minutes of the incident,” said Christy. 

The surveillance video showed a male suspect kick the window, breaking it. He was described as a white male, wearing a black shirt with the number 17 on it, black pants, and black shoes.

Click on photo for a larger image

Submitted Photo

The window at Hobie Surf Shop boarded up the morning after

Less than an hour later, at 10:26 p.m., officers responded to a report of a man disturbing the peace at Laguna Beach Brewery & Grille located in the 200 Block of Ocean Avenue. The man matched the exact description from the surveillance video down to a T, a black tee jersey with the number 17.

Officers detained and arrested Los Angeles resident Jeremiah Johnson, 32, for felony vandalism.

 “Johnson seemed as though he had been drinking. He did not mention any other motivating factors for the vandalism,” said LBPD’s Jordan Villwock. “Johnson was uncooperative with officers.”

Bail was set at $20,000.

“It was an incredible response by the police department and I suspect a moment the perpetrator will regret,” said Christy.

 

Plans go up in smoke, lead to felony charges for Laguna Beach man

Not only is smoking unhealthy, it can also lead to an arrest as LBPD can attest from an incident that occurred in the 200 Block of Ocean Avenue, outside of Hennessey’s Tavern, on Sunday, April 1 at 10:36 p.m. 

Brian Patrick Taylor, 44, of Laguna Beach, was smoking in public when officers made contact with him for the LBMC violation he had in hand – Smoking in Public. 

While detained, the officers discovered Taylor was on probation out of San Luis Obispo. During a search, a fixed blade knife was located, which was a violation of his probation for carrying a weapon.

Taylor was then placed under arrest and transported to the Laguna Beach Jail. During a more thorough search, methamphetamine was discovered in his sock. As a result, he was charged not only with the violation of probation misdemeanor, but also with a possession of a controlled substance misdemeanor and last, but hardly least, a felony charge for bringing a controlled substance into jail.

No bail was set. “Probation violations are 99.9 percent no bail,” explained Villwock. 

 

Hippity hop, LBPD plays Easter Bunny at the 2nd Annual Easter Egg Hunt at Boys & Girls Club

Easter came early for the Laguna Beach Boys & Girls Club when Laguna’s finest, LBPD, hosted its second annual Easter Egg Hunt last Thursday after school. 

The Easter Bunny brought a bounty of candy in his basket with hundreds of eggs hidden with candy and other goodies inside.

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Courtesy of LBPD

Not only that, four “golden eggs,” two eggs for each age group, were hunted down with a big cash prize of $10 in each egg, surprise! 

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Courtesy of LBPD

However, the generosity didn’t end there. When one Club member didn’t collect any eggs in time, LBPD decided to put together a fifth “golden egg” with $5 inside. This brought the total cash pot to $45 between all five lucky recipients, and LBPD’s Station Number is 45…how fitting. The kids surely gave the LBPD high-fives, 45 times over at least.


Police Files

Intoxicated teen airlifted by helicopter at Thousand Steps Beach on Tuesday

On Tuesday, April 3 at 5:23 p.m., an alert message came in from City of Laguna Beach, LBGOV, via text: “Don’t be alarmed, a helicopter will be landing at Thousand Steps Beach for a medical aid.”

According to LBPD, the medical helicopter landing at Thousand Steps Beach was to help an intoxicated juvenile.

“It involved an underage juvenile who was heavily intoxicated,” said LBPD Spokesperson Sgt Jim Cota.

Photo from LBFD Instagram

Tuesday’s rescue at Thousand Steps Beach

On LBFD’s Instagram page, it said, “Our firefighters along with @ocfirefighters @ocfairdrops (Orange County Firefighters and Orange County Fire Air Drops) working together today to extract a patient from the beach. Patient was transported to nearest hospital for further evaluation.”

It is important to report these types of incidences to the police. Call 9-1-1 if it is an emergency or LBPD for non-emergency help at (949) 497-0701.

 

Party time? Local woman gets quite the surprise when her Rolex goes missing at birthday bash

A surprise birthday party became quite the surprise for a local woman who found out her $21,600 Rolex Daytona watch was missing après the festivities. The grab and go guest was at the fete held at the 0 Block of Lagunita Drive.

“It was an adult party. This was a surprise birthday party that grew to approximately 30 people, which included three to four uninvited guests,” said Sgt Cota.

Pictured here is a Daytona Rolex, this is not the actual watch stolen

The crime is considered to be grand theft. 

“Detectives will be looking into the incident. A female is suspected,” said Sgt Cota. “There was no surveillance.”

 

Vegetation fire near Castle Rock gets quickly extinguished

LBPD officers were dispatched with LBFD for a vegetation fire in the canyon near Castle Rock on Thursday, April 5 at 2:33 p.m.

“A Laguna Beach animal control officer was the first to arrive on scene and with the help of two citizens, the three of them were able to extinguish the fire with fire extinguishers,” said Sgt Cota.

The inbound lane of LCR was blocked but the center lane was used as a traffic lane. Traffic was moderately impacted with spectator traffic for about 20 minutes.

Safety precautions from LBFD’s website include great tips in case of a fire and how to prepare before it’s too late. 

“Protect your home from wildfire. We call it «Ready, Set, Go!» as a way to remember what you should do to be READY for the time a wildfire approaches your home, SET knowing which personal items you need when you evacuate, so you can GO quickly to stay safe.”

Visit LBFD’s website for more information on fire prevention at www.lagunabeachcity.net/cityhall/fire/fire_prevention/default.htm.


Police Files

LBPD honors the critical work of our dedicated public safety dispatchers 

LBPD posted on their Facebook page that they’re giving our public safety dispatchers their due, honoring them during public safety dispatchers week this week.

Many people do not stop to think about these seemingly nameless, faceless individuals until they experience an actual emergency themselves. These professionals demonstrate poise under pressure, aid, and compassion in times of distress. Many times, they are responsible for the difference between life and death.

Click on photo for a larger image

Courtesy of LBPD Facebook

LBPD honors the life-saving work and dedication of our public safety dispatchers during this nationally recognized week to celebrate them

Across the nation, 9-1-1 dispatchers will be celebrated as part of National Public Safety Telecommunicators’ Week. Congress designated the second full week in April as a time to honor all 9-1-1 dispatchers who answer the calls for help and give emergency aid to the public and emergency public safety responders.

“Laguna Beach Public Safety Dispatchers are the best in the business. Daily they multi-task dispatching Police, Fire, and Marine Safety resources throughout the city. Our public safety departments could not do what they do without them. Happy Dispatcher Appreciation Week,” said an LBPD Spokesperson.

The statistics of the service LBPD’s dedicated dispatchers give to help save lives is jaw dropping. In 2017, there were 14,998 emergency 9-1-1 calls and 60,463 non-emergency calls, for a total of 75,461 calls in all.

 

LBPD joins together to race in the Run to Remember 

Also according to the LBPD Facebook page, on Sunday, members of LBPD joined together to race in the Run To Remember Los Angeles to honor the officers who made the ultimate sacrifice. Who could say no to this cause, they said.

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Courtesy of LBPD Facebook

LBPD joins together to remember officers who made the ultimate sacrifice in the Run to Remember in LA on Sunday

 

Fire Files

LBFD is the biggest, red-hot ticket item at LOCA’s 25th anniversary fundraiser, stokes recipients

A home-cooked meal by LBFD’s finest was the big-ticket item at LOCA’s 25th birthday bash, fetching top dollars with a $3,000 winning bid by Greg and Barbara MacGillivray. (Actually Barbara)

Pat Cary and James Lin of LBFD were the two hot commodities at LOCA, really cooking up the high bids.

Click on photo for a larger image

Photo by Mary Hurlbut

LBFD was the hottest ticket with the highest bid at LOCA’s 25th anniversary fundraiser event

“We are members of the Laguna Beach Firefighters Association and we are here auctioning off a dinner for eight people in the community. Our firefighters will come off duty and cook a meal at (your) house. We’ll coordinate the meal and we’ll do all the shopping, cooking and then clean up,” said Cary. “All this is done off duty by our members donating our time back to the community for such an important non-profit like LOCA.”

“We’ve done this before in the past. We’ve done it with the seniors at the Susi Q Center. This is our third dinner,” said Lin. 

The members of LBFD enjoy helping out for a worthy cause and being interactive with the community they proudly serve.

 “What we like about LOCA is that LOCA gives back doing art for a lot of the youth in the community. The arts are such an integral part of Laguna Beach,” said Lin.

Click on photo for a larger image

Photo by Mary Hurlbut

Greg and Barbara MacGillivray beat out the crowd with the highest bid at $3,000 to receive an exciting culinary experience with eight LBFD firefighters

The MacGillivrays are looking forward to the rare treat to share it with friends and family. It’s a win for LOCA, LBFD and for them.

 “My wife bid on the eight firefighters who will come to your house, and not only cook and bring dinner, but they’ll clean up afterwards. And they’ll entertain you by serving you,” said Greg MacGillivray. “I don’t know if they dress like firefighters or not, but I think it will be a great deal of fun. So we need to get some lively people for dinner.”

They’re contemplating holding the hot dining event in the heat of August. 

“As for the menu, they can do seafood. We don’t eat meat, so the seafood would be great with lots of vegetables and salads,” said MacGillivray.

He said he thinks his wife was interested in bidding on the firefighters because she thinks they’re charming. 

“She’ll say that the fire crew was so cute that she just had to bid on them,” MacGillivray said laughing.

He was absolutely right.

“They were just so charming, and they were so excited about coming. We’ve already talked about the menu and they’re gung ho, they’re just great,” Barbara MacGillivray said. “We paid $3,000 because it was such a popular item. Everybody was telling us how lucky we are because we got it.” 

Regarding whether or not she wants them to wear their uniforms, Barbara laughed, “That would be great for my grandkids to see, they would be very impressed.”


Police Files

Airbnb rental ‘party house’ is busted for drugs and stolen mail in South Laguna

Detectives received a tip early Thursday morning referencing possible drug and fraudulent activity being conducted at a residence in the 31000 Block of Virginia Way. Officers proceeded to conduct surveillance, before contacting several subjects in front of the residence, which led to a search of the entire residence.

According to LBPD Spokesperson Sgt Jim Cota, “Officers found heroin, needles, and what looks like meth, although it’s still undetermined, if in fact, it was actually meth.”

 “Inside the residence it was basically a ‘crash party house.’ Many of the people inside did not know each other,” said Sgt Cota. 

Rented through Airbnb, the officers found that the person who is renting the house was not at the premises at the time. 

Seven people were contacted – one occupant was not arrested and was released. Five people, between ages 25 and 35, were taken into custody, and the sixth suspect was transported to Mission Hospital because of a medical emergency.

“The suspect that went to the hospital, heroin was found in his underwear,” Sgt Cota said. “We may have just saved his life.”

None of the suspects are from Laguna, but they are from Orange County.

“We got a hold of the homeowner and he came to the house and was very appreciative of the PD and the involved officers. He works in Laguna Beach,” said Sgt Cota.

The suspects checked into the house on Tuesday as an Airbnb rental. The house – which is listed as a 3 bedroom, 3 bathroom “quintessential 1930s Laguna Beach cottage” – rents for $350/night, according to an active listing on the website. The rental has a 5-star rating from past renters, and has a bonafide short-term housing rental permit through the City.

“I am very pleased our officers and detectives were able to stop this criminal activity from continuing and possibly saving a life at the same time. This rental house was being used for criminal activity, so it needed to be shut down,” said Sgt Cota. “The Laguna Beach Police Department is fully committed to its citizens and pleased with the outcome that resulted in five arrests.”

Besides being busted for drugs, the suspects were also found to be in possession of a large quantity of mail that was not their own. “Inside the premises, literally handfuls of local Laguna Beach residents’ mail was seized,” said Sgt Cota.

“LBPD will get a hold of each person and individually let them know,” said Sgt Cota.

All the suspects that were taken into custody are currently being held at LB Jail. Charges are pending.

 

Canine capers: beloved pitbull Brody has bolted twice, quite the charming escape artist, tail wagging and all

Dogs just want to have fun, that’s Brody the pitbull’s story and he’s sticking with it.  

According to LBPD’s Facebook Page, “With the help of our community, officers reunited our most recent escape artist, Brody. So far this week he’s effectively escaped his secured household, twice. Lucky for him we know where he lives.”

Click on photo for a larger image

Courtesy of LBPD Facebook

Brody, the friendly pitbull, is home again thanks to LBPD

Perhaps his name should be changed to Houdini.

LBPD Spokesperson Sgt Jim Cota said that they received a call Thursday morning stating that, “Brody was loose, he wanted to go for a walk but couldn’t. He scratched his way out the window.”

An officer went to the area of the home and found Brody. They went to the house to see how he may have gotten out.

Click on photo for a larger image

Courtesy of LBPD Facebook

Brody, a known escape artist, enjoys his canine capers with LBPD

“He got creative and pushed an interior sliding window open,” Sgt Cota said.

Eventually he was released to the dog walker, which is perplexing since the dog seemingly broke free to walk himself. Nonetheless, Brody was released and noted for his congeniality, quite the charmer.

“Brody is our favorite little pitbull. He’s super nice,” said Sgt Cota.


Police Files

A huge posse of 75-100 motorcyclists were wanton and wild doing wheelies on the wrong side of Coast Hwy and the law

On Sunday, April 15 at 10:50 am., officers responded to the area of Mission Hospital in Laguna Beach after seeing approximately 75 to 100 motorcyclists doing “wheelies” and riding on the wrong side of the roadway on Coast Highway. 

“An officer observed one of the subjects performing a “wheelie” on the wrong side of the road at Cleo Street and South Coast Highway,” said LBPD Spokesperson Sgt Jim Cota. “The officer attempted to initiate a vehicle enforcement stop, however, the motorcyclist did not yield. A slow speed pursuit ensued until Emerald Bay where speeds picked into Corona Del Mar where the pursuit was ultimately terminated.”

The Orange County Sheriff’s Department helicopter, named “Duke,” monitored the situation from the sky, providing the perfect bird’s eye view. 

Officers were able to get several license plates from the large group thanks to “Duke,” LBPD officers and a motorcycle officer.

 A further investigation will take place to identify the main suspect and pursue prosecution. No arrests have been made yet, Sgt Cota explained.

The motorcycle group was put together through Facebook. The wild and wanton “wheelie” loving motorcycle posse were riding a motley mix of street and dirt bikes. 

Alcohol is not suspected at this time.

 

Vandals jack up a Porsche 911 in North Laguna and steal its wheel

On Monday, April 16 at 10:16 a.m., LBPD officers responded to a petty theft report. Officers arrived on scene, at the 1000 block of Hillcrest Drive, where they discovered the owner’s silver Porsche 911 vandalized, collapsed on top of a floor jack with a missing rear wheel that had been stolen.

Courtesy of Nextdoor website

There’s nowhere to go after someone tries to steal the hot wheels off a silver Porsche 911, only able to manage one for the road, wheel that it is

The officers were told that sometime after 11 p.m. the previous night, someone had attempted to remove the wheels and tires from the Porsche, but they were unsuccessful, Sgt Cota said. 

The petty theft occurred while the Porsche was parked on Hillcrest between La Brea Street and Fairview Road. Evidence was collected and the vehicle was towed to assess the damage.

 

LBPD, LBFD, and Laguna lifeguards will be off to the races for the Special Olympics Torch Run

LBPD is proud to announce that they will again be participating in the annual Special Olympics Torch Run on May 31, 2018 at 7:35 a.m. with a little help from their friends. 

Sgt Cota said, “Laguna Beach Police Officers, Fire Fighters, and Lifeguards will be escorting the “Flame of Hope” from the Laguna Beach Police Department to the intersection of Coast Highway and Newport Coast Drive where we will hand the torch off to The California Highway Patrol.”

They welcome members of the public to meet at the police department at 7:10 a.m. to share their support for the runners and Special Olympics athletes, as they participate in this 5.4-mile 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.

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Courtesy of LBPD

Sgt Cota, seen here at LBPD’s annual Tip-A-Cop event at Ruby’s Diner, along with other LBPD officers, firefighters and lifeguards will participate in this year’s Special Olympics Torch Run

“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.

To support the Laguna Beach Public Safety personnel, please donate to their Special Olympics fundraising page here.


DUI enforcement operations deploy today, 4/20, starting at 4:20 p.m.

Officers from the Laguna Beach Police Department’s DUI Enforcement Team are deploying today to stop and arrest alcohol and drug-impaired drivers in the Department’s ongoing traffic safety campaign. 

DUI Saturation Patrols will deploy today, Friday, April 20, between the hours of 4:20 p.m. and 3 a.m., in areas with high frequencies of DUI collisions and/or arrests. 

This date, 4/20, is associated by many as, “national holiday for cannabis culture.” Researchers examined a quarter-century of national data and found a 12 percent increase in the relative risk of a fatal traffic crash after 4:20 p.m. on April 20 compared with identical time intervals on control days. 

Additionally, the risk to teenage drivers is even higher on that day and the risk of crash involving drivers under 21 years of age was 38 percent higher. 

DUI charges aren’t only about alcohol

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.  

Studies of California drivers have shown that 30 percent of drivers in fatal crashes had one or more drugs in their systems. A study of active drivers showed more tested positive for drugs that may impair driving (14 percent) than did for alcohol (7.3 percent). Of the drugs, marijuana was most prevalent, at 7.4 percent, slightly more than alcohol. 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.  

Hand over your keys if you are impaired in any way

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 or use drugs, and drive. The cost of a ride home is cheap. 

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

Suspected ID thieves, including 14-year-old boy, caught red-handed with stolen loot

On Thursday, April 19 at 2:18 a.m., after barely squeaking by Laguna Beach, LBPD officers stopped a car at the El Morro dip just north of city limits. 

From the car stop, the officer detained three suspects, Deserie Garcia, 30, James Saaf, 22, and a 14-year-old male juvenile, all from Whittier.

Courtesy of LBPD

Deserie Garcia                             James Saff

Accordingly to LBPD Spokesperson Sgt Jim Cota, while detained, Garcia admitted that she was the driver of the group, but also pointed the finger at her friends, alluding to the other two illegally taking mail from residents, including some from Laguna Beach.

 “All of the stolen mail was inside the car. There were also burglary tools – little saws, picks, and things that are used to get through locks and doors, along with fraudulent documents, leading officers to believe identity theft crimes had been committed,” Sgt Cota explained.

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Courtesy of LBPD

Stolen mail, burglary tools, and of course, a case of beer, were all taken in as evidence by LBPD as part of Thursday’s big bust, which landed three Whittier pals behind bars

Perhaps in an attempt to practice their craft and fool LBPD’s best, the two adults provided false identification information. Busted! 

They were subsequently properly ID’d.

“All three subjects were arrested and will face a litany of charges. This is an ongoing investigation that will lead to many more charges,” Sgt Cota said.

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Courtesy of LBPD

Receipts for fraudulent purchases, LBPD says. Were the suspects planning to use these as write-offs on their taxes this year?

 “Officers did a terrific job stopping these subjects from continuing their criminal activity in and around Laguna Beach,” said Sgt Cota. “The Laguna Beach Police Department will not tolerate criminals committing theft against our citizens at any time, day or night. Our citizens need to stay vigilant and if they see something or somebody acting suspiciously, do not hesitate to call the police. We are always open for business, we never close.”

 

Too close for comfort, house cat snatched by coyote

One lucky cat still has nine lives thanks to a fast acting neighbor who caught a coyote in the act of snatching the cat on Monday, April 16 at 10:50 a.m., in nearby Laguna Woods.

A cat was loose in the area when a medium-sized coyote grabbed it twice according to a concerned neighbor. Together with another neighbor, they hazed the coyote, which frightened the coyote and caused the coyote to drop the cat, saving it from the snare of the coyote’s clenched grip.

A Laguna Beach Animal Services Officer arrived shortly thereafter, observed the coyote, and initiated hazing procedures. The coyote ran away. No injuries were observed on the cat. However, the feline was quarantined for 30 days to monitor to make sure it is healthy. It is unknown at this time to whom the cat belongs. Please let Laguna Beach Animal Services know if your cat is missing.

Click here for information about coyotes and for pet safety tips from the Laguna Beach Animal Services.

Laguna Beach Animal Services provides service to the City of Laguna Woods, contracted with the City of Laguna Beach, for the provision of all animal control and animal shelter services. Laguna Woods is the only other city that they provide animal services to besides Laguna Beach. 

 

Get PIO’d at LBPD @ Twitter, #newpage #scoop

LBPD has a new Press Information Officer (PIO) page on Twitter. This page will be another way for the department to not only communicate with the public but with the press on LBPD events/incidents, Sgt Cota said. 

This new page will be in addition to the LBPD Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter pages, making it even easier to keep up with the LBPD. 

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Courtesy of LBPD PIO Twitter

LBPD Spokesperson Sgt Jim Cota invites the public to Tweet

To find the new page, log onto your Twitter account and search for Laguna Beach PD PIO. The page should come right up, so you’ll be down with the latest LBPD scoop on important information, served fresh and timely.


Time to have Coffee with a Cop (and a doughnut too, of course): Bring your questions with you

LBPD invites residents to meet police officers for coffee and doughnuts this Sunday, April 22 from 8 a.m. – 10:30 a.m. at Laguna Beach Cyclery, 240 Thalia St.

Click on photo for a larger image

Photo by Lynette Brasfield

Bring questions, ideas, and even your dogs to Coffee with a Cop, just as these locals did a month or two ago

 “Join your neighbors and personnel from the Laguna Beach Police Department for coffee, doughnuts and conversation. No agenda or speeches, just a chance to ask questions, voice concerns, and get to know the officers in your neighborhood. We hope to see you there!” says LBPD Spokesperson Sgt Jim Cota.


Police Files

Virtual kidnapping scam terrorizes Laguna moms

Last Friday, April 20, a frantic Laguna Beach mother told LBPD she received a call from a person who said they had kidnapped her son and were demanding a large sum of money to be brought to a location or they would kill her son. 

The victim was distraught and doing whatever the caller told her because they knew the name of her child and she could hear a child screaming for help in the background. Detectives responded, and while investigating this terrifying and dynamic situation, determined her child was safe and the call was a hoax in an attempt to coerce the mother to wire money out of the country.

The terrible situation is a reminder that if you receive such a message, please call the police immediately. Virtual kidnapping can take on many forms but is always an extortion scheme to trick the victim into paying the ransom. 

On Saturday, another victim stepped up. “I just received an email from a Laguna Niguel woman who was also a victim of that kidnap scam [like Friday’s incident]. Her email to me was terrifying,” said LBPD Spokesperson Sgt Jim Cota. “I can’t even imagine. We need to let everyone know about this. I’m sure there are more people out there too who have been ‘victims’ of this.”

Many times, specific information related to the person being virtually kidnapped is obtained through unsecured social media accounts. It’s crucial for families to review their individual social media sites to make sure they are secured, to be protected against being a victim. 

Once contacted, it’s urgent to call 9-1-1 immediately.

The success of any type of virtual kidnapping scheme depends on speed and fear. Criminals know they only have a short time to exact a ransom before the victims unravel the scam or authorities become involved.

To avoid becoming a victim, ask important questions, like, “How do I know my loved one is ok?” And questions only the alleged kidnap victim would know, such as the name of a pet, while avoiding sharing information about yourself or your family.

Importantly, don’t agree to pay a ransom, by wire or in person. Delivering money in person can be dangerous. For more tips and information, contact Sgt Cota at (949) 497-0701 or via email at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

 

LBFD fired up about scam soliciting money 

in their name

The Laguna Beach Fire Department has been notified that someone may be using their good name to scam people out of money. Neither the Laguna Beach Firefighters nor their association will solicit fundraising over the phone. 

“Example: Someone called an individual asking if they had their tickets for the Laguna Beach Firefighters Magic Show. Although, the firefighters could probably put together a pretty entertaining magic show, this did not come from the Laguna Beach Firefighters. Please be weary about anyone soliciting money over the phone especially,” said Jordan Villwock, City of Laguna Beach Emergency Operations Coordinator. 

Call LBPD at (949) 497-0701 if you believe you have been a victim of a scam. 

 

Front door kicked down by intruder in the middle of the night, leaving Laguna resident unnerved

A Laguna Beach resident was awoken early Thursday morning last week, April 19, by an unknown intruder who was kicking his door in. The resident, who lives in the 200 block of Calliope Street, immediately called 9-1-1 to report the suspicious person, at 3:20 a.m.

“Officers arrived quickly and were able to detain the suspect who was walking down the stairs,” said Sgt Cota. 

Carlos Alberto Maldonado, 18, of Dana Point, was the kicking culprit caught coming down the external stairs to the condo.

Maldonado was booked on felony burglary charges with a bail of $50,000.

 

Pooch plucked out of hot car by patrol

A pooch was plucked out of a parked prison by Laguna Beach Patrol in the 400 Block of Coast Highway on Saturday, April 24 at 2:54 p.m. Patrol had observed the liver and white Cavalier King Charles Spaniel within a vehicle with all the windows rolled up. 

“The outside temperature per weather apps was 69 degrees, however, the inside temperatures inside can be significantly higher,” explained Sgt Cota, a passionate pooch proponent.

According to a California Legislation Information site, the person broke California Penal Code 597.7, which states, “A person shall not leave or confine an animal in any unattended motor vehicle under conditions that endanger the health or well-being of an animal due to heat, cold, lack of adequate ventilation, or lack of food or water, or other circumstances that could reasonably be expected to cause suffering, disability, or death to the animal.”

Unless the animal suffers great bodily injury, a first conviction is punishable by a fine not exceeding $100 per animal. Any subsequent violation of this section, regardless of injury to the animal, is also punishable by a fine not exceeding $500, imprisonment in a county jail not exceeding six months, or by both a fine and imprisonment.

The dog was released with the help of a tow agency and taken to the animal shelter for safety reasons until the owner picked him up the following day.

 

Tony Hawk teams up with LBPD for anti-bullying video, will it go viral?

LBPD has just released an anti-bullying video in partnership with Tony Hawk to help deter bullying at schools. The video can be seen online at https://youtu.be/uk70o55bRPs, and also below.

“It’s something Captain Jeff Calvert and I wanted to do for a long time based on the worldwide problem of bullying. It’s a major issue with schools across the country,” said Sgt Cota. 

Lucky for Calvert, he knows a close friend of Tony Hawk, Laguna Beach resident Kim Novick, which led to LBPD pitching the idea to him.

“He loved it and is a huge supporter of anti-bullying. He was bullied when he was younger. He was a great partner,” said Sgt Cota. “We worked on the script with Tony’s recording and photo team, 900 Films, who made the video with us.”

“Tony came to this because of his work through the Tony Hawk Foundation. He works to our youth and found this a great way to empower them,” said Kim Novick, former Development Director of the Tony Hawk Foundation.

According to Sgt Cota, this is just the start for LBPD, as a series of anti-bullying videos featuring celebrity advocates are planned.

“We are still in the process of reaching out to other celebrities. We have some names we are tossing around still,” Sgt Cota said. “There is no time frame yet on the next one. We want to see how this one plays out.”

Shaena Stabler is the Owner, Publisher & Editor.

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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.

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