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Laguna Beach

Police Files

Man reportedly jumps from rear of Sandpiper and lands in hospital with head injury 

On Sunday, Jan 5, at approximately 1:50 a.m., LBPD officers were on foot patrol at the Sandpiper, 1183 S Coast Hwy, when they were alerted to a fall victim to the rear of the location. 

According to LBPD Spokesperson PIO Sgt Jim Cota, “The investigation revealed the subject jumped off a second-floor balcony of the Sandpiper and landed on his face. Paramedics were requested to the scene. Based on his head trauma, the victim was ultimately taken to Mission Hospital in Mission Viejo due to his head injury.”

Cut and rescue collision involves allegedly intoxicated driver

On Sunday, Jan 5, at 8:52 p.m., LBPD officers responded to the 700 Block of Park Avenue in reference to a cut and rescue traffic collision. 

Sgt Cota said, “A Toyota Corolla was travelling up Park Avenue east and collided with two parked vehicles. This caused the Corolla to overturn and come to rest on the hood. The Corolla was occupied with three males who admitted to consuming alcohol at a downtown Laguna Beach bar.”

Police Files 1 7 20

Click on photo for a larger image

Courtesy of LBPD

Cut and rescue traffic collision on Sunday

The driver was identified as a 32-year-old Anaheim Hills man.

Sgt Cota said, “He was transported to Mission Hospital in Mission Viejo and admitted for observation. He was arrested for [alleged] DUI and released at the hospital. His two passengers were intoxicated and uninjured.”

Police Files

Suspect tries to pass off phony letter from DA to 

get car out of impound, arrested for felony fraud

On Tuesday, Dec 31, at 5:53 p.m., a male subject came into the LBPD station with a letter he said was from District Attorney Todd Spitzer. 

Police Files Brett TostonLBPD Spokesperson PIO Sgt Jim Cota said, “He claimed Spitzer provided him with the letter so the police department would release his impounded vehicle. When officers looked over the letter it was very apparent it was fraudulent.”

Sgt Cota said, “An officer later found evidence in his belongings which consisted of paperwork he used to cut and paste the fraudulent letter together with. 

“The subject was identified as Long Beach resident Brett Edward Toston, 53. He was arrested for felony fraud,” Sgt Cota said. 

Bail was set at $20,000.

LBPD detectives nail suspect in local bike heist

Police Files Joseph MendivilOn Friday, Dec 27, an LBPD officer was dispatched to a residence in the 900 block of Park Avenue in reference to a theft of an electric bike from an open garage. The women’s bicycle was white in color and valued at $1,550. 

According to Sgt Cota, “This report went to the Investigations Division. The bicycle was quickly listed up on for $150. Undercover detectives agreed to meet with the seller, Joseph Mendivil, in the city of Irvine for the purchase.” 

Sgt Cota said, “Detectives contacted Mendivil and detained him in Irvine. Joseph Jonathan Mendivil, 30, was subsequently arrested for possession of stolen property, a felony.” 

The bike was returned back to the owner. 

Bail was set at $20,000.

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

Laguna Canyon Road closed in both directions today following rockslide

This morning, Friday, Dec 27, Laguna Canyon Road will be closed between Woodland and Canyon Acres in both directions from approximately 9 a.m. until 2 p.m. to allow Caltrans to remove loose rocks from a roadside slope. 

According to Cassie Walder, Community Information Officer for the City, “The rocks became loose during a small slide on the west side of Laguna Canyon Road just south of Canyon Acres on December 26. A Caltrans engineering and geotechnical team completed its evaluation of the conditions. They have recommended that both inbound lanes remain closed until the loose rocks are manually removed from the slope.”

Police Files boulders falling

Click on photo for a larger image

Courtesy of LBPD

Caltrans will be closing Laguna Canyon Road today between Woodland and Canyon Acres in both directions to make the area safe in response to storm damage and falling rocks

Sgt Cota said, “Caltrans will be closing Laguna Canyon Road to work on the unstable boulders on the hillside in the 1100 Block. Caltrans will be handling the road closure and inbound will be closed at the 73 Toll Road.” 

 Walder said, “Caltrans will coordinate to get residents on Milligan Drive in and out.” For more information, see the City’s website:

Editor’s Note: On an unrelated note, Third Street Hill will also be closed today, Friday, Dec 27, from 9:30 a.m. to 1 p.m. for tree trimming.

Massive storm hits OC, locals receive emergency tornado alert

As a massive storm pummeled Orange County late Wednesday night, many locals and OC residents literally received a wakeup call Thursday around midnight via an emergency text alert from the National Weather Service about a possible tornado in Orange County, including in parts of Laguna Beach. 

The alert said: “Emergency Alert – NWS: TORONADO WARNING in the area til 12:30 a.m. PST. Take Shelter now. Check media.” 

The emergency warning was dispatched to many Laguna Beach residents in addition to nearby communities, including Newport Beach, Irvine, and Costa Mesa, among others.

Fortunately, the tornado warning was canceled about 10 minutes later after the storm dissipated. But many residents were still on edge, taking to social media to express their concern since tornadoes are quite atypical for Southern California.

Sea lion that fell 30 feet onto S Coast Hwy still in critical condition at PMMC

The sea lion that jumped from the pedestrian bridge at Aliso Circle on Monday, Dec 23, plunging 30 feet onto South Coast Hwy, is still in critical condition according to care experts at Pacific Marine Mammal Center (PMMC).

PMMC animal care coordinator Wendy Leeds said, “Lords-a-Leaping is still considered to be in critical, but stable condition. Initial radiographs showed no signs of fractures; however, he is still emaciated and dehydrated.”

Police Files Sea Lion Jumper

Click on photo for a larger image

Courtesy of PMMC

Lords-a-Leaping is hoping for a holiday miracle after falling 30 feet

She continued, “As is done with all of our patients here at PMMC, our veterinarian and animal care team will continue to monitor him closely. Lords-a-Leaping has started eating fish and is in a pen with two other sea lion pups that were recently rescued.”

On Monday, LBPD Civilian Services Administrator Jim Beres explained what precipitated the perilous plunge of the sea lion. The pinniped “somehow climbed up the Aliso Beach pedestrian bridge at Aliso Circle that crosses South Coast Hwy just north of the entrance to The Ranch.” 

According to Beres, “The sea lion got to the south wall of the inland side of the bridge where it jumped off after approximately 40 minutes of sitting on the bridge.” 

Police Files Skywalker, Lords a Leaping and Tinsel in back

Click on photo for a larger image

Courtesy of PMMC

Sea lion that plunged onto S Coast Hwy from pedestrian bridge is still in critical condition; he’s the sea lion pictured in the middle, with new friends

Animal Services Officer John Thompson was on scene along with staff from the Pacific Marine Mammal Center. 

Beres said, “After the sea lion jumped off the bridge, it wound up on the right shoulder of the northbound side of South Coast Hwy. Once on the ground, ASO Thompson and PMMC staff were able to capture the sea lion and transport it to the PMMC facility in Laguna Canyon.”

During 2019, PMMC has had 210 rescue and response incidents, including 139 for sea lions, 35 for elephant seals, 11 for harbor seals, and six for fur seals. For more information or to donate to PMMC, visit 

-By Suzie Harrison

Police Files

Good Samaritans help save Laguna man’s life following cardiac arrest

On Thursday, Dec 19, at 3:33 p.m., LBPD officers were dispatched to the 100 block of Cliff Drive regarding an unresponsive male near a retaining wall.

According to LBPD Spokesperson PIO Sgt Jim Cota, “The male, who was later identified as a 68-year-old Laguna Beach resident, was found hunched over on his knees. The RP and a passerby performed CPR on the subject; when LBPD officers arrived they took over CPR and deployed the AED (automated external defibrillator) two times.”

Paramedics arrived shortly after and took over medical treatment. At the same time LBPD put on the defibrillator, Engine 2 from LBFD came on scene.

LBFD engineer and paramedic Pat Cary said, “We ended up shocking him three times on scene and getting pulses back on scene. He was transported to Saddleback Memorial Medical Center because it’s the nearest cardiac receiving center. Care was transferred to the doctors and ER staff at Saddleback. He had a pulse but was still unresponsive. His breathing was being assisted via ventilation. He went right into surgery.

“Anytime that we get pulses back like that, it’s huge win. We were bringing him into the hospital in a better condition than we found him,” Cary said.

Sgt Cota said, “The subject is alive because of the life-saving efforts of the citizen and the officers.”

Cary concurred.

“It’s a huge testament to bystander CPR, and not being afraid to get into action when you see someone who’s unresponsive,” Cary said. “Bystander CPR saves lives.”

Cary noted that CPR classes are offered once a quarter through the City of Laguna Beach Community Services Department for anyone interested in learning CPR or refreshing their life-saving skills. 

“CPR is like a foreign language. If you don’t use it, you lose it,” Cary said.

The next courses are offered January 18 and 25 at the Community & Susi Q Center. For more information or to sign up, click here.

Spate of car burglaries and thefts hits Laguna

A spate of car burglaries and thefts has hit Laguna this holiday season.

Between the dates of Sunday, Dec 15 and Friday, Dec 20, LBPD officers responded to several reports of theft from vehicles, along with a stolen vehicle report. 

According to Sgt Cota, “To the best of our knowledge at this time, all of the incidents occurred within the blocks of 800-1400 Catalina Street. Three subjects were recently taken into custody in Redondo Beach, and were found to be in possession of stolen items belonging to Laguna Beach residents.”

To help alert the community of the spate of vehicle break-ins, LBPD took a proactive approach by reaching out to locals in the area. 

During the morning hours on Friday, Dec 20, LBPD officers walked the neighborhoods and spoke to residents regarding the incidents, reminding them to keep vehicles and personal property locked and secured.

However, at least two additional burglary and theft reports came in the following day.

On Saturday, Dec 21, at 8:05 a.m., LBPD officers took a vehicle burglary report in the 2000 block of Catalina Street. 

Sgt Cota said, “The owner said her purse, merchandise, and cash were stolen from her locked Lexus. The total loss was estimated to be approximately $20,000.”

According to police records, the car was parked in the driveway at the time and the driver side window was cracked open.

Also on Saturday, Dec 21, at 11:14 a.m., an LBPD officer took a report at the front counter in reference to a theft from a Volvo in the 300 block of Magnolia Drive. 

Sgt Cota said, “The victim lost $2,330 in property which included three men’s watches valued at $800, $300, and $200, tuxedo studs valued at $1,000, and $30 in cash.” 

According to police records, the “jewelry and watches were taken from the glove box.” 

The victim was unsure if his car was locked at the time of the incident.

Sgt Cota said, “If you believe you may be a victim of recent thefts, please contact us at the Laguna Beach Police Department at your earliest convenience.”

To contact LBPD, call (949) 497-0701.

Police Files

Man struck in crosswalk by 85-year-old local woman

On Monday, Dec 16, at 12:40 p.m., LBPD officers and LBFD responded to a traffic collision involving a pedestrian at South Coast Hwy and Bluebird Canyon Drive. 

According to LBPD Spokesperson PIO Sgt Jim Cota, “Officers arrived on scene and located an injured male who had been walking in a crosswalk when he was struck by a vehicle, driven by an 85-year-old female.” 

Sgt Cota said, “The female driver was issued an emergency DMV re-evaluation, due to her stating she did not see the subject in the middle of the crosswalk.”

The female driver is a Laguna Beach resident and the pedestrian is a Murrieta resident.

Suspected burglar from May incident caught and arrested this week

On Monday, May 27, at 6:13 a.m., a resident in the 1000 block of Gaviota noticed that his Ring surveillance camera caught a male subject entering his property during the night and stealing some sheets from the lower level of the residence. 

According to Sgt Cota, “An area check was conducted and photos of the suspect were distributed to officers. Unfortunately, we were unable to locate the suspect at the time.”

Sgt Cota said, “On Wednesday, Dec 18, LBPD Detectives conducted a surveillance in San Juan Capistrano and were able to locate a wanted burglary suspect. The suspect, Alex Rongaus, 25, was arrested without incident [for felony burglary]. He was later transported to OC Jail.”

Bail was set at $50,000.

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

DoorDash driver arrested at Jack in the Box for meth and counterfeit bills 

On Saturday, Dec 14, at 6:34 a.m., LBPD officers responded to Jack in the Box, at the 1200 block of South Coast Hwy, for a report of alleged counterfeit bills. 

Police Files AnandAccording to LBPD Spokesperson PIO Sgt Jim Cota, “Officers arrived and discovered a total of $120 in the suspect’s possession in counterfeit bills. In addition, they discovered his vehicle displayed a stolen plate, false tabs, and methamphetamine in the vehicle. The subject, Jitendra Anand, is on probation and from Sylmar.” 

According to Sgt Cota, the suspect was in Laguna Beach to “work for DoorDash because he gets $2.50 more a delivery in this area.”

Sgt Cota said, “Jitendra Anand was charged with making/passing [a] fictitious check, possession of stolen property, possession of a controlled substance, possession of narcotic paraphernalia, and violation of probation terms. Additionally, Anand will also be charged with bringing methamphetamine into the jail.” 

Bail was set at $20,000.

Suspect allegedly attacks two women near Whole Foods

On Sunday, Dec 15, at 4:06 p.m., at Beach Street and Ocean Avenue, LBPD responded to a report about a female subject, Stacey Werner, who allegedly assaulted two women in their 60s near Whole Foods. 

According to Sgt Cota, “Werner mistakenly accused them of stealing her property and head-butted one female, causing a laceration on the female’s nose. Werner fled the scene and returned a few minutes later to confront the other female.” 

Sgt Cota said, “Werner punched the second female, causing a swelling to the cheek. Werner was restrained at the scene and was arrested by officers for assault with a deadly weapon.” 

Both females refused treatment by LBFD. Werner was booked and transported to OC Jail.

Bail was set at $25,000.

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

.22 caliber bullet found on school bus

On Tuesday, Dec 10, at 11:24 a.m., at the 200 block of Laguna Canyon Road, SRO Cpl Cornelius Ashton was advised that a Durham bus driver found an older unspent .22 caliber bullet while sweeping a Thurston Middle School bus that morning. 

According to LBPD Spokesperson PIO Sgt Jim Cota, “SRO Cpl Ashton interviewed the bus driver and determined the bullet was located on the floor, underneath a seat at the front of the bus.” 

The bullet was weathered and dirty. 

Sgt Cota said, “LBPD is working with Laguna Beach school leadership in the investigation. LBUSD acted swiftly and completed a press release and sent it to parents in reference to this incident. This investigation remains ongoing.”

Thurston Principal Jenny Salberg sent an alert out to parents concerning the found bullet on Tuesday:

“We want to notify you that today one of our bus drivers found an unspent .22 caliber bullet while cleaning the bus, after this morning’s drop off at Thurston. The Laguna Beach Police Department was immediately notified. They advised us that the weathered, dirty bullet looked to have been on the bus for some time and appeared to be related to the bullets found on campus in October. This situation continues to be actively investigated by LBPD.

“I want to assure you that we take every precaution necessary to ensure the safety of our students. I would like to thank everyone who has contributed information (See Something, Say Something) to help the LBPD in their investigation. If any additional information becomes available, please do not hesitate to contact me at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.or our School Resource Officer at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..” 

Salberg said, “If any new information becomes available in this open investigation, I will provide an update.”

Alleged prowler busted with meth, second suspect not found

On Tuesday, Dec 10, at 4:12 a.m., LBPD officers responded to the 1600 block of Eleanor Lane for the report of a possible prowler.

Sgt Cota said, “As officers responded, they were told that the caller had seen a suspect trying the door handle of a parked car.”

A second suspect reportedly may have been involved. 

Sgt Cota said, “Officers detained Eureka resident Ryan Otero in the 300 block of Ledroit Lane. He was identified as the suspect in question.”

Ryan Daniel Otero, 28, was arrested for vehicle tampering, possession of methamphetamine, and being under the influence of a drug. 

No bail was set.

The second suspect was not located. 

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

LBPD officer Fred Yeilding named as LBUSD’s second School Resource Officer

Laguna Beach Police Department is pleased to announce that the Laguna Beach Unified School District Board and the City of Laguna Beach have jointly agreed to support a second School Resource Officer (SRO) to be assigned to Laguna Beach Unified School District campuses. 

 “LBPD Officer Fred Yeilding has been selected as the second SRO. Officer Yeilding comes with excellent customer service experience, as he was recently a member of the Department’s Business Liaison Unit. Officer Yeilding has a proven track record for fostering positive relationships with the community and business owners and we are confident this will extend to the school administration and student body,” LBPD Spokesperson PIO Sgt Jim Cota said.

Police Files Yeilding

Submitted photo

LBPD Officer Fred Yeiling will serve as LBUSD’s second School Resource Officer

The City and LBUSD are excited about the addition of Yeilding as the second School Resource Officer. This additional SRO will enhance the ability to connect and provide support to the student community and to create and maintain safe, secure, and orderly learning environment for students, teachers, and staff.

For further information, contact Sgt Cota at (949) 464-6671 or This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

Traffic stop yields drugs, identity theft & credit cards

On Thursday, Dec 5, at 11 a.m., an LBPD officer conducted a traffic stop in the 200 block of Calliope Street. 

According to Sgt Cota, “The driver was identified as Kristin Moen, who was on probation.”

 Sgt Cota said, “A search of the vehicle yielded heroin, numerous miscellaneous credit cards in her name and other people’s name, prescription pills without a prescription, and syringes with a clear liquid inside of them, heroin.”

Sgt Cota said, “Kristin Marie Moen, 38, was arrested for felony identity theft, possession of stolen access cards with priors, and various drug charges.”

Bail was set at $21,500.

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

Ped struck by car in crosswalk sustains minor injuries

On Friday, Nov 30, at 9:51 a.m., a female pedestrian was standing on the southeast corner of Third Street. She then started running from the east sidewalk to the west sidewalk within the marked crosswalk, LBPD reported. 

According to LBPD Spokesperson PIO Sgt Jim Cota, “As she was about halfway through the marked crosswalk, a white Toyota Corolla collided with her. The female pedestrian’s head and elbow hit the windshield and her back landed on the hood.” 

Sgt Cota said, “The Toyota continued forward for approximately 10 feet and the female pedestrian was thrown off from the vehicle and onto the street. The driver of the Toyota exited the vehicle to rendered aid and realized the vehicle was not in park.” 

The Toyota slowly rolled back for a few feet until it was able to stop. 

Sgt Cota said, “The pedestrian was treated by Laguna Beach Fire. The pedestrian declined being transported to the hospital for further evaluation. She sustained a laceration on her back and visible scratches on her right elbow.”

Local ejected from bike after hitting crack in the road

On Sunday, Dec 1, at 5:14 p.m., LBPD officers responded to the area of Glenneyre Street and Moss Street in reference to a collision involving a bicyclist.

According to Sgt Cota, “The bicyclist was identified as a female Laguna Beach resident. She was traveling north on Glenneyre Street. The front tire of her electric bicycle struck a crack on the edge of the roadway which caused her to become ejected from the bicycle.” 

She was transported to Mission Hospital in Mission Viejo and later released.

Sgt Cota said, “She suffered facial injuries and tooth loss.”

Teens with BB rifle gun allegedly shatter patio door

On Saturday, Nov 30, at 8:53 p.m., LBPD officers responded to an alleged shots fired call in 31000 block of Santa Rosa Drive. 

According to Sgt Cota, “The residents were inside when they heard a loud bang and found their patio door shattered. Officers conducted an area search and found a group of teenagers hiding in the backyard and on the roof of a nearby residence.” 

Sgt Cota said, “The kids were found in possession of an airsoft gun and a BB rifle gun. The teenagers said they were shooting trees and did not intentionally aim at any homes.” 

The cost to replace the door was estimated to be approximately $900. 

Sgt Cota said, “The teenagers’ parents were contacted and offered to cover the repair costs. The airsoft gun and BB gun rifle were confiscated and a report was taken.”

Police Files

Man arrested on suspicion of DUI after hitting a pedestrian

On Saturday, Nov 23, at 10:21 p.m., LBPD and LBFD personnel responded to South Coast Highway at Cleo Street for the report of a vehicle versus pedestrian traffic collision. 

According to LBPD Spokesperson PIO Sgt Jim Cota, “Emergency personnel arrived and found that a Honda Civic was making a left turn onto South Coast Highway when it knocked over a pedestrian in a crosswalk.” 

The pedestrian, a 23-year-old resident of Mission Viejo, was transported to Mission Hospital in Laguna Beach for the complaint of pain and being unable to feel her leg. 

Sgt Cota said, “The driver of the Honda was identified as Lake Forest resident, Daniel Osorio, 36. He was arrested for felony DUI.”

Bail was set at $100,000.

Repeat offender sentenced to two years in prison

On Wednesday, Nov 20, Daniel Moretti was sentenced to two years in prison at OC Harbor Court. Per LBPD, Moretti, 40, has been arrested eight times in Laguna Beach in 2019.

According to LBPD Emergency Operations Coordinator Jordan Villwock, on Tuesday, July 2, LBPD officers were dispatched to the 1100 block of Gaviota Drive for an alleged burglary in progress.

Villwock said, “When officers arrived, they found and contacted Daniel Moretti inside and he was subsequently arrested. It’s unknown how Moretti entered the home. However, he did [allegedly] steal a bottle of champagne, which he still had the cork to in his pants pocket.”

Moretti was arrested for alleged burglary.

Bail was set at $50,000.

Two days earlier on Sunday, June 30, at the 100 block of Cliff Drive, Moretti was arrested for alleged trespassing.

According to police records, it was reported that a male was walking by that appeared to be “casing the place.” The suspect appeared to be stopping and hiding in between parked cars as people passed him.

Bail was set at $500.

Two weeks prior, on Saturday, June 15, LBPD officers were conducting a foot patrol in the area of Marine Way. The officers were doing residence checks due to the recent burglaries in the area. 

According to Sgt Cota, “While checking a residence in the 1000 block of Marine Way, officers noticed a broken pane of glass on the upper portion of the side kitchen door. Officers made entry into the residence and eventually located a male subject in one of the upstairs bedrooms.” 

Sgt Cota said, “The subject was detained and later identified as Daniel Moretti. Moretti admitted to throwing a rock through the window in order to gain entry to the residence.” 

He was transported to LBPD for booking for alleged vandalism and trespassing.

Bail was set at $20,000.

A couple of weeks prior, on Friday, May 31, Moretti was also arrested for alleged trespassing, this time at the 100 block of Crescent Bay Drive.

LBPD officers were dispatched to a residence in reference to a trespassing investigation.

According to Sgt Cota, “A broken window was observed to the front of the residence. It was believed that there might possibly be a suspect still inside the residence. A perimeter was established and a canine from Newport Beach PD was requested. The interior was searched and no suspects were located.”

According to LBPD, property belonging to Moretti was located inside the residence and the reporting party also positively identified Moretti as the person observed entering the residence. 

Moretti was taken into custody for alleged trespassing and vandalism. 

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

Shaena Stabler is the Owner, Publisher & Editor.

Dianne Russell is our Associate Editor & Writer.

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Mary Hurlbut and Scott Brashier are our photographers.

Alexis Amaradio, Dennis McTighe, Diane Armitage, Maggi Henrikson, Marrie Stone, Sara Hall, Stacia Stabler and Suzie Harrison are our writers and/or columnists.

In Memoriam - Stu Saffer and Barbara Diamond.

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