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Incident Reports

Tuesday, May 15

Pearl Street | 100 Block | Minor in Possession of Alcohol, Possession of Drug Paraphernalia

11:02 p.m. Emily Gisselle Sanchez, 20, Santa Ana, was arrested for being a minor in possession of alcohol, as well as for being in possession of drug paraphernalia. Bail was set at $500.

Forest Avenue | 500 Block | Giving False Information to a Peace Officer

5:27 p.m. Jose Edgar Jimenez, 32, Long Beach, was arrested for providing false information to a peace officer. Bail was set at $500.

S. Coast Hwy | 100 Block | Providing False ID to a Peace Officer, Battery

4:21 p.m. The RP stated that an individual grabbed their shoulders, and had done it to another passerby as well. Kevin Omar Hernandez Gomez Cisneros, 23, was arrested for providing false identification to a peace officer, as well as for battery. Bail was set at $500.

S. Coast Hwy & Laguna Canyon Hwy | Suspicious Person

4:32 p.m. The RP stated that an individual was touching passerbyers, and trying to talk with them. The subject was not able to be located.

N. Coast Hwy & Irvine Cove Drive | Failure to Register as a Sex Offender, DUI

4:14 p.m. Richard Carl Yakubowski, 57, Huntington Beach, was arrested for failure to register as a felony sex offender (no bail set), and on suspicion of DUI (bail was set at $2,500).

Seacliff Drive | 31700 Block | Warrant

10:05 a.m. Elmir Ohsulyuan, 39, Los Angeles, was arrested on two misdemeanor bench warrants.

Glenneyre Street | 300 Block | Grand Theft

9:55 p.m. The RP stated that after recognizing a theft suspect seen on surveillance camera footage, he began to follow the suspect. Haylee Grant, 33, New Zealand, was arrested for providing false identification to a peace officer, for receiving known stolen property, and for first degree burglary. Bail was set at $20,000.

Via Los Altos | 700 Block | Drunk in Public

7:29 a.m. A 45-year-old man from Laguna Beach was arrested for being drunk in public. Bail was set at $500.

Reef Point Drive & State | DUI

12:a.m. A 21-year-old Brea resident was arrested on suspicion of DUI. Bail was set at $2,500.

Monday, May 14

Laguna Canyon Road | 2500 | Tresspassing

10:07 p.m. Michael Hayes Matekel, 29, Laguna Beach, was arrested for trespassing. Bail was set at $500.

Coast Hwy | 31800 Block | Drunk in Public

2:11 p.m. A 27-year-old resident of Beaumont was arrested for being drunk in public. Bail was set at $500.

S. Coast Hwy & Thalia Street | Traffic Control

12:07 p.m. A group of about 30-40 bicycles were reportedly causing the number two lane on Coast Hwy to be blocked temporarily.

Saint Ann’s Drive | 300 Block | Trespassing

7:09 a.m. Joseph Edward Flamm, 50, Newport Beach, was arrested on a warrant. Bail was set at $1,500.

Broadway Street | 300 Block | DUI

12:01 a.m. A 28-year-old woman from Anaheim was arrested on suspicion of DUI. Bail was set at $2,500.

Sunday, May 13

Alta Laguna Boulevard | 3200 Block | Animal Calls

10:28 a.m. A mountain lion was seen behind the fence at the location.

San Tropez Court | 100 Block |Violation of Probation, Possession of a Controlled Substance

8:27 a.m. Ana Joselin Parada, 22, Laguna Hills, was arrested for being in possession of a controlled substance, and for being in possession of drug paraphernalia (bail was set at $500). Daniel Nunez, 27, Laguna Beach, was arrested for being in possession of a controlled substance and for violation of probation (no bail set).

Laguna Canyon Road | 20600 Block | DUI

2:46 a.m. A 22-year-old from Aliso Viejo, was arrested on suspicion of DUI. Bail was set at $2,500.

Agate Street & Glenneyre Street | DUI

1:57 p.m. A 40-year-old woman from Aliso Viejo was arrested on suspicion of DUI. Bail was set at $2,500.

S. Coast Hwy | 400 Block | Drunk in Public

12:43 A 29-year-old man from Laguna Niguel was arrested for being drunk in public. Bail was set at $500.


Police Files

Thief waltzes away with dancing woman

On Friday evening, a resident in the 200 block of Chiquita Street reported that a sculpture had been stolen from their home. 

The sculpture, a bronze dancing woman on a base of green marble, had been listed on eBay. The loss was estimated at $7,000. 

Copycat sought in wilderness parking lot burglary

Last May, LBPD apprehended a suspect who had been breaking into cars parked in Laguna Coast Wilderness lots on Laguna Canyon Road.

Now, it seems a copycat is back at it.

On Saturday morning, a woman’s car, parked in the lot in the 3200 block of Laguna Canyon Road, was broken into while she was hiking. 

When she returned to her vehicle, she found that her purse, credit cards, house keys, and two iPhones had been stolen.

“Detectives arrested the last guy responsible for all of those vehicle burglaries, but it looks like someone new is back at it,” said Sgt. Jim Cota, LBPD spokesperson.

Remember to lock your vehicles and hide your valuables.


Police Files

Cocaine-fueled man attacks self with towel rack

Guests at the Hotel Laguna were awoken at 12:35 a.m. Thursday morning by some loud banging and yelling. 

Officers arrived and found the source of the commotion to be a man who had ripped the towel bar off the wall. The man, James Hathaway, 32, of Sky Valley, told officers he had been hitting himself in the head with the towel bar.

After further investigation, both Hathaway and his girlfriend, Ashley Neail, 29, Fullerton, were found to be in possession of cocaine. Hathaway claimed that the drugs had been given to them by a man at a bar.

LBPD Booking Photos

Ashley Neail and James Hathaway

Both were arrested and booked into the Laguna Beach Jail for possession of a controlled substance. 

Tips for trick-or-treaters tonight from the LBPD

LBPD hopes that Stu News readers have a lovely evening while they are doing their trick-or-treating. However, there are a few safety tips that they want everyone to keep in mind. 

Be sure to use flashlights or glow sticks so that you are more visible to cars.

Travel in groups or with an adult that you trust. 

Click on photo for a larger image

Photo by Scott Brashier

These are some fierce pumpkins

Use the crosswalk, looking both ways before you cross. 

Only consume prepackaged candy, 

And make sure to have dad and mom check the candy out before you eat it. 

Keep in mind, the Laguna Beach Police Department has candy as well, so please stop by if you wish.


Police Files

Squatters arrested for burglary and ID theft, spray paint home walls with their initials

An observant resident noticed some suspicious activity at his neighbor’s vacant house in the 600 block of Ramona Avenue on Saturday. An unfamiliar truck was parked in the garage, a window was open, and people unknown to the neighbor were seen around the property.

Officers arrived around 11:45 p.m. to investigate and found that a man and a woman had been living inside the residence for about 10 days without permission from the owner. During that time, they had spray painted the walls with their initials. 

Photo courtesy of LBPD

While squatting inside the home, Justin Westgaard and Dionne Hart left their mark in the form of graffiti

In addition, the pair, Justin Westgaard, 39, Laguna Beach, and Dionne Hart, 45, Costa Mesa, were found to be in possession of drugs, drug paraphernalia, numerous IDs, mail, and financial information belonging to other people.

LBPD Booking Photos

Justin Westgaard and Dionne Hart

Hart and Westgaard were taken to Orange County Jail on charges of burglary, identity theft, and drug related charges. 

More police than protestors at Sunday’s rally

“They recently changed their name to Onward America from America First,” said Sgt Jim Cota of the group that promoted a rally in Laguna Beach this last Sunday.

 The group was allowed to speak in front of the boardwalk...with a slew of law officers in riot gear covering the entire walkway behind them, becoming just silhouettes as the sun began to set. “We have a strong law enforcement contingency that’ll involve all of our law enforcement partners throughout the county, so I would expect upwards of 150 officers total, ready to go. There are horses that are staged. They’re not going to be dispatched immediately, only if they are needed,” Sgt Cota told Stu News as they waited to see what the evening would bring.

Click on photo for a larger image

Photo by Jason Feddy

Police from all over Orange County were at Main Beach Sunday night to help ensure public safety

The group began to speak with a bullhorn to onlookers, mainly protesting how the 2012 Benghazi attack was handled. This lasted for all of 15 minutes before a counter protest group was on the scene. There was an intense law enforcement presence all around. At this point, a group of 20 or so police came into the sand area, separating the two groups, with one group leaving first. Another squad of 30 officers across the street standing two by two on Broadway Street began crossing the Pacific Coast Hwy at around this time (approximately 8 p.m.).

A total of about 60 protesters and counter-protesters were in attendance on Sunday. No arrests were made and the crowds dispersed by 8:45 p.m.

One resident pointed out that the cost was something to consider for all of the equipment expended for this rally. The police barriers, the police with their riot gear – how much did this all cost, the resident wondered. Another passerby lamented that Laguna Beach is so peaceful, usually, and that the contrast recently was very evident –definitely not the usual tranquil beachfront that residents and tourists alike are used to enjoying.

Red Flag Warning issued for Laguna Beach

The National Weather Service has issued a Red Flag Warning for the Orange County Coastal Zone, including Laguna Beach, effective through Wednesday, Oct. 25 at 6 p.m. A wind advisory has also been issued where wind speeds between 15-25 mph and gusts of up to 40 mph are possible. Temperatures will be near or in excess of 90 degrees. An elevated sense of awareness is imperative during extreme weather conditions.

Laguna Beach residents should take this time to evaluate their preparedness levels. The City asks residents to refer to the Ready! Set! Go! Program available on the Fire Department website (www.lagunabeachcity.new/cityhall/fire). Register for AlertOC, the city’s mass notification system, by going to www.alertOC.com. Make sure to include your cell phone number, text number, and email addresses so emergency alerts can reach you no matter where you are. In order to ensure you are contacted during a Red Flag Warning, register with the Nixle Red Flag group by texting “LBRedFlag” to 888-777.

During a Red Flag Warning, parking restrictions are implemented for the Diamond/Crestview neighborhood. Any vehicles parked in marked parking spaces with a “red flag” painted in the center of the asphalt may be cited or towed. 

When Red Flag Warning are issued from the National Weather Service, this information will be shared on the city’s website, social media accounts, official press release, and through the Red Flag group in Nixle.


Police Files

Lizzie Mulder, embezzler who stole more than $1.5 million from local businesses, is sentenced to prison

Elizabeth “Lizzie” Mulder, the owner and operator of a financial services company based in Laguna Beach that provided accounting, tax and bookkeeping services to small businesses throughout Orange County, was sentenced this week to five years and three months in federal prison for embezzling more than $1.5 million from her clients.

Mulder, a 34-year-old former Laguna Beach resident, pled guilty in June to wire fraud and subscribing to a false income tax return for failing to report the misappropriated funds to the IRS. 

She convinced nearly all of her victims to make checks payable to “Income Tax Payments” under the guise that the money would be used to satisfy clients’ past and future tax obligations. Instead, these checks went to a fictitious business called “Income Tax Payments,” and the funds used by Mulder to pay for her rental home in Laguna Beach, cosmetic surgery, vacations, a horse, and more. 

Photo courtesy LBPD

Elizabeth “Lizzie” Mulder befriended most of her victims before stealing more than $1.5 million from them between July 2009 and May 2016

“By developing and continuing personal friendships with the victims, Mulder was able to assume responsibilities for their small business accounting needs and then proceeded to steal from them,” prosecutors wrote in a sentencing memorandum. “Her conduct resulted in various levels of financial loss and emotional distress to the victims, many of whom were required to drain their personal bank accounts or retirement funds in an attempt to avoid bankruptcy.”

In addition to her time in prison, Mulder has been ordered to pay $1,538,781 in restitution to seven victims, including the IRS.  

Spate of residential burglaries continues: three more reported in the last week

On Tuesday, a resident was dropped off at her home on Smithcliffs Road and realized immediately that something was not right. Suspecting that someone was inside the residence, she called the police. 

Officers and a canine unit confirmed that the residence was empty, but someone had definitely been inside. 

A final loss inventory has not yet been completed, but some of the victim’s jewelry was taken.

“This is possibly related to other residential burglaries,” said Sgt. Jim Cota, LBPD spokesperson.“We’re investigating the links.”

On Monday morning, a resident in the 200 block of Lower Cliff Drive came home after being away for three weeks and realized that someone had been inside the residence.

The loss, which included UPS uniforms, a fur coat, a computer, Kindle, iPad and other miscellaneous items, was estimated at about $3,000. 

The suspect may have accessed this home through an unlocked door.

And again, on Sunday, in the 200 block of Crescent Bay Drive, a resident returned home to find random items taken from their house – a computer worth $1,200, an iPhone 6 worth $800, makeup, a classic print Louis Vuitton bag, a UPS package and more – the total loss was estimated at $5,000.

At this residence as well, the suspect may have entered through an unlocked door.

“Residents must be sure to lock all doors and windows – always – and take additional precautions if the home will be empty for a few days,” said Sgt. Jim Cota.

Along with these precautions, residents need to be reminded, Sgt. Cota said, that

the LBPD offers vacation house checks. Just stop by the police station during business

hours to fill out a request form.

America First rally scheduled for Main Beach on Sunday – what residents need to know

A rally to “…bring awareness to Extortion 17 and Benghazi” has been organized for Sunday from 7 to 10 p.m. at Main Beach.

At time of writing, 44 people had RSVPed as “Going” on the Facebook page, with another 262 “Interested.”

The Laguna Beach Police Department is prepared for this event and will have officers on foot as well as some on horseback patrolling the area.

Photo by Scott Brashier

Officers on horseback patrolled at the America First rally in August, where an estimated 2,500 people gathered

LBPD and outside agencies will be setting up at 5 p.m. 

“Residents should continue with any plans that they have,” said Sgt. Jim Cota. “LBPD is here to protect residents. Don’t change your life or lifestyle because of the activities of protestors.”

At least one counter-protest group has been in touch to seek an area set aside for them.


Police Files

Driver in 2013 fatal collision sentenced to community service, probation

At 6:40 a.m. on April 2, 2013, a Tesla Model S driving northbound on Laguna Canyon Road collided head-on with a Honda Accord, killing the 47-year-old driver Alberto Casique and 38-year-old passenger Armando Gonzalez. The Tesla was driving next to a Mercedes as both vied for the single lane north of El Toro Road.

On Monday, October 16, 2017, the driver of that Tesla, Dr. Robert McFarland Pettis, pled guilty to two misdemeanor counts of vehicular manslaughter without gross negligence, and was sentenced to community service and three years of probation. As part of the deal, he admitted that he had been driving at an unsafe speed at the time of the collision.

Click on photo for a larger image

Photo courtesy LBPD

Two men were killed in April 2013 after the Honda (left) they were in was hit head-on. The driver of the black Tesla, seen facing the wrong way on Laguna Canyon Road in the background, was sentenced this week.

The families of the victims have also filed a wrongful death lawsuit against Pettis a well as Dekker McKeever, who was driving the Mercedes, Orange County, Caltrans, and the city of Laguna Beach, among others. 

Laguna Canyon Road closed twice in a day

On Sunday morning around 9, a motorcycle driving outbound on Laguna Canyon Road near Canyon Acres was struck by a vehicle making a left turn out of a residence. 

The motorcyclist was transported to Big Mission and the extent of his injuries were unknown.

Laguna Canyon Road reopened after approximately an hour and a half, but that didn’t last too long.

At 9:40 p.m., police and fire personnel responded to the 2600 block of Laguna Canyon Road after a vehicle collided with a utility pole. 

“It was likely that the driver fell asleep at the wheel,” said Sgt. Jim Cota, LBPD spokesperson. “He sustained minor injuries and was transported to Mission Hospital Laguna Beach as a precaution.”

The collision, in which the Honda Civic sheared a utility pole, caused low hanging wires to hang low over both sides of Laguna Canyon Road.

Click on photo for a larger image

Photo by Dave Day

Due to downed wires late Sunday night, Dave Day had to commute to his workplace on Laguna Canyon Road by bicycle, where he snapped this photo

Crews from Frontier Communications arrived on Monday to fix the affected pole and wires. The road was reopened approximately 17 hours later, at 3 p.m.


Police Files

Mid-day burglar arrested for stealing clothes and cash

On Sunday afternoon, a LBPD officer was in the right place at the right time.

“The general manager of a restaurant in the 200 block of Brooks Street flagged down an officer around 2:15 p.m.,” said Sgt. Jim Cota, LBPD spokesperson. “He pointed to a man running away from the patio area.”

The officer took chase and tracked down Cesar Badillo-Munoz, age 28.

“He was wearing a jacket that still had a merchandise tag on it from a local business,” said Cota. “He claimed he paid $80 for it, but later admitted he had stolen it along with other clothing items that he was in possession of, including hats and t-shirts.”

Back to the restaurant manager…

“Badillo-Munoz had been acting suspicious inside the restaurant,” said Cota. “The employees noticed that he had gone into the office and taken cash from an unlocked safe – that’s what alerted the manager to flag down the officer.”

Inside the pocket of the stolen jacket, officers found a total of $2,166.

Badillo-Munoz was arrested for burglary, grand theft, and, since he ran from officers, resisting arrest. 

Community meeting regarding recent burglaries a success – more coming in the future

On Wednesday night, LBPD hosted a community meeting at the Susi Q Center regarding the recent burglaries in North Laguna.

Sgt. Cota estimated there were 25 people in attendance, as well as himself, Sgt. White, Sgt. McGill, and Detective Ocampo. 

“We talked about the uptick in burglaries in the city, security measures residents can take, vacation home checks conducted by the police department, and other resources for the public to learn about major events,” said Cota. “Overall it was a very good meeting.”

“Based on the attendance and questions that were asked, we will be doing a lot more of them,” he added. “It was really good and informative for citizens.”

Remember, if you see something, say something – you could stop a crime. 

A pigeon and a pumpkin – was it the full moon?

Last Thursday there was a full moon – and we’re attributing that to some recent odd occurrences around Laguna….

On Monday morning, a business reported that there had been pumpkins smashed, hay scattered, and posted signs ripped. Was it a werewolf on the rampage? Perhaps, but the victim provided security footage of the incident.

On Monday evening, a man was reported wandering downtown carrying a dead pigeon. When questioned about it by police officers, he was unable to recall where he had picked up the unfortunately deceased bird. The man, 18-year-old Emil Brenenstuhl, was ultimately arrested for public intoxication, but we won’t rule out vampires as the cause for the dead bird.

After all, it is Friday the 13th….


Police Files

LBPD nabbed three burglary suspects from Riverside on Friday morning, with help of K-9 bite

As we reported on Friday, LBPD was able to apprehend three suspects involved with a burglary reported on Zell Drive that morning. A resident had reported a suspicious truck in his neighbor’s driveway, and another caller reported three suspects had attempted to force entry through a side bedroom window. 

Within minutes of the call, officers on scene saw three suspects inside the truck driving away. 

The three suspects abandoned the truck in a nearby residential area and fled on foot. With air support from the Orange County Sheriff’s Department as well as their K-9 units, the suspects were located. 

LBPD Booking Photos

Gwendulyn Ceballos Jimenez, Allen Ykwang Lin, and Michael Murilloh

Gwendulyn Ceballos Jimenez, 21, Allen Ykwang Lin, 29, and Michael Murilloh, 31, all from Riverside, were taken into custody after an extensive search of the area. Ykwang Lin had to be persuaded to come out of the canyon where he was hiding – OCSD’s K-9 unit was more than happy to assist. The minor bite injuries Ykwang Lin sustained were treated. 

“Our residents acted quickly and did a fantastic job reporting the suspicious activity that led to these arrests,” said Captain Jeff Calvert in a statement. “We are fortunate to have such engaged residents who understand that it is a team effort to keep our community safe.”

The suspects were booked into Orange County Jail for residential burglary and possession of stolen property. LBPD detectives are in the process of identifying additional victims through the stolen property recovered in the truck…which was also stolen. The investigation is ongoing.

Click on photo for a larger image

Photo courtesy of LBPD

Officer McGuire and Detective Gensemer are looking for the owner of the other stolen truck, which they think belongs to a 2- to 4-year-old. If you know who this truck belongs to, please call the LBPD at 949-497-0701.

 

Well-dressed Edward Torrison pleads guilty

This week, Edward Torrison pled guilty to the thefts that occurred this summer in Laguna Beach at the Shops at the Cliffs, where the losses exceeded $200,000. 

He pled guilty to four counts of second-degree burglary, two counts of grand theft, and one count of receiving stolen property. 

LBPD detectives arrested Torrison on Sept. 26 in Oceanside. A second suspect shown on the surveillance footage is still at large. 

Torrison is suspected to be involved in several other burglaries that occurred throughout Orange, Los Angeles, and San Diego counties.


Police Files

Three burglary suspects in custody after chase through backyards in the Temple Hills area

Lagunans woke this Friday morning to the sound of circling helicopters and sirens. 

Mary Hurlbut, of Cerritos Drive says she was sitting in her living room when she heard footsteps. “I looked outside and there was a police officer on our back deck with guns drawn,” she said. “He told us to make sure all our doors and windows were locked as they were pursuing two suspects.”

Three suspects in all were taken into custody, Sgt Jim Cota tells Stu News. “The incident began as a response to a burglary occurring in the 2900 block of Zell Drive,” he said.

Click on photo for a larger image

Photo by Mary Hurlbut

This was Mary Hurlbut’s view this Friday morning first thing—immediately after finding a cop with gun drawn on her deck

“Officers responded to the area, near Temple Hills Drive and Bluebird Canyon. They saw a suspect fleeing on foot. With the assistance of a helicopter and the K-9 unit he was apprehended without further incident,” Cota added.

This was no easy task for police officers, given, as Mary Hurlbut describes, the lush backyards of homes in this area.

Once again, LBPD nabbed their suspects.

We’ll update details on our Facebook page.

Burglar will face felony animal cruelty charges after gecko is injured

When the LBPD takes on a case, they want justice for all the victims of a crime.

And last week, a much-loved gecko became one of those victims. She WILL see justice done.

Residents will recall that on July 26, five Laguna Beach jewelry businesses at the Shops at the Cliffs shopping center were burglarized, and more than $200,000 in merchandise was stolen by "well-dressed" thieves. 

Last week, exactly two months after the burglaries, LBPD detectives arrested one of the two suspects caught on surveillance video during the thefts.

Detectives went to Oceanside and located Edward Torrison, 30, at a home where he resides with his girlfriend.

“Torrison was very surprised,” said Sgt Cota, LBPD spokesperson. “So surprised that he took off running from Laguna Beach PD officers through downtown Oceanside. I think he was shocked that he was finally caught.”

Torrison fled down an alley, over a fence, and into a business, where he attempted to jump through a window and shattered the gecko’s cozy aquarium, the only home the little lizard knew.

“The gecko (a girl, named Aloha) is fine,” Sgt Cota assures us. “She is resting and back with her owner. Although tail-less, I am told she will be alright, and her tail is not supposed to grow back.”

Still, little Aloha could have died. And also, a tail is not something you want to lose if you’re a gecko.

So it is that the LBPD is adding a charge of felony animal cruelty to the list of charges against Torrison, which include multiple theft and burglary related charges as well as being a felon in possession of a firearm.

Click on photo for a larger image

Photo courtesy LBPD

Aloha’s owner Cory Whitlock, seen here with Detectives Dave Gensemer and Joy Butterfield, is just happy she’s alive

Stu News learned some additional interesting information about the arrest, one of the most significant for the LBPD in recent years, its successful conclusion a reflection of the smarts of its hard-working investigative team.

Sgt Cota tells us that the thief had an enormous amount of jewelry inside the garage of the residence. 

“Two loaded handguns were also located inside the house and garage. There was so much jewelry in the large tool chest with multiple pull drawers that we did not have the room in our detective vehicles to transport it all back to Laguna Beach,” he tells us. 

Sgt Cota had to pay a Oceanside tow truck company to haul the very large chest and jewelry back on a flatbed the night of the arrest. 

(By the way, we hear that Sgt Cota drew the short straw and got stuck following the tow truck at slow speeds all the way back to Laguna Beach from Oceanside, which even included a stop at the San Clemente border check area.) 

“Border patrol agents inquired what we were hauling back into Orange County because not every day does a flatbed tow truck haul a very large tool chest with hundreds of thousands of dollars in stolen jewelry at 2 a.m. in the morning,” Cota accurately observes.  

He says that it is going to take a long time to investigate this particular case given the magnitude of the crimes and the number of stolen items. 

Police departments around Southern California laud the arrest

Other police departments from Orange County and San Diego and Riverside are celebrating the arrest and working with the LBPD on the case, because Torrison had been involved with many burglaries prior to his arrest by LBPD.

Sgt Cota told Stu News, however, that right now there is no link between the recent residential burglaries in Laguna Beach and the commercial burglaries committed by Torrison. 

“It appears he targets businesses more, but we will not rule out any involvement in residential burglaries,” Sgt Cota added. “If it is not Torrison, then that means there are other people coming into our city and committing the crimes. We’ll get those guys too. We always do. 

“Our investigative team is the best around as their track report speaks for itself in terms of the high volume of arrests they make. They do not know how proud of them I really am. They work countless hours and take the crimes they investigate very seriously. I am just fortunate enough to supervise a great group of detectives. They deserve all the credit!”


Police Files

LBPD offers advice and empathy in response to Las Vegas shooting

The Laguna Beach Police Department is closely monitoring the tragic events from Sunday’s “Route 91 Country Concert” in Las Vegas, during which at least 59 people were killed and 527 injured. 

Preliminary news reports indicated that among the innocent victims of the active shooter incident were a number of off-duty police and firefighter personnel from jurisdictions throughout the country, including Orange County. 

“Our thoughts are with everyone involved in the incident, including the family and loved ones affected by this tragedy, and law enforcement, other first responders and medical staff who responded to the scene and worked tirelessly to preserve life,” said Sgt. Jim Cota in an interview on Monday.

The Laguna Beach Police Department offered the following possible courses of action in an active shooter situation:

Get out, if possible. Try to remain calm, and find cover and/or concealment. You MUST take action to protect yourself. Assist the injured, if it is safe to do so. Secure your location. Silence any cell phones and remain quiet. And, defend yourself. 

Thieves steal laptops from local business, get caught trying to sell them in town

On Wednesday, September 27 at about 6:30 p.m., Seven-Degrees reported the theft of two laptops. The suspects were described as two white men in their mid-twenties. 

About three hours later, two white men in their mid-twenties approached a man at Oak Street and Glenneyre Street, and offered to sell him some stolen laptops. The man turned them down, and called the police after they left.

Surveillance footage from the theft confirmed the suspect’s identity, and officers arrested Nicholas Huffman, 21, Colorado, for possession of stolen property.


Police Files

LBPD nabs “big fish”: suspected thief with $500k in jewelry, loaded guns

On July 26, five Laguna Beach jewelry businesses at the Shops at the Cliffs shopping center were burglarized, and over $200,000 in merchandise was stolen. 

On Tuesday, exactly two months after the burglaries, LBPD detectives arrested one of the two suspects caught on surveillance video during the thefts.

“This was the big fish,” said Sgt. Jim Cota. “We’ve been working on this investigation for two months.”

Detectives went to Oceanside and located Edward Torrison, 30, at a home where he resides with his girlfriend. When detectives attempted to detain him, Torrison fled on foot, down an alley, over a fence, and into a business, where he attempted to jump through a window and successfully shattered a gecko aquarium. (We were assured that the gecko was unharmed and given a new home.)

Click on photo for a larger image

Photo courtesy of Laguna Beach PD

Edward Torrison was detained with the help of Oceanside police following a brief chase that involved a broken gecko aquarium and an attempt at jumping through a window.

Torrison was arrested with the help of the Oceanside PD and some brave citizens.

“This arrest was the culmination of excellent police work coupled with a steadfast determination by our investigations unit to apprehend the offenders,” said Captain Jeff Calvert in a statement. “It serves as a reminder that when individuals commit a crime in Laguna Beach, we will leave no stone unturned in bringing the perpetrators to justice.”

A search of his residence revealed an estimated $500,000 in stolen jewelry, two loaded firearms, and stolen pieces of art. The investigation is ongoing, and LBPD is working with law enforcement agencies throughout Los Angeles, Orange, and San Diego Counties to identify additional victims.

Torrison was arrested on multiple theft and burglary related charges, as well as being a felon in possession of a firearm. He was taken to Orange County Jail where he is being held on $500,000 bail.

The second burglar is still outstanding, and encouraged to turn himself in to the Laguna Beach Police. 

Anyone with any information regarding this investigation is encouraged to call the Laguna Beach PD at 949-494-0701. For further information, please contact Sgt. Jim Cota at 949-464-6671 or This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

Feces smeared at residence

A resident in the 31800 block of Circle Drive reported an unusually disgusting event on Tuesday. 

Somehow, an unknown suspect got through two locked gates to smear feces on the property.

“Neither of the gates had been tampered with, so we have no idea how the suspect got onto the property,” said Sgt. Jim Cota.

A few weeks ago, a similar feces-smearing incident occurred when someone reported feces on their car door. Officers are not sure if the two events are related.

“About 8 years ago we had a caretaker from Newport Beach throwing used diapers onto the streets of North Laguna,” said Cota. “But we haven’t had any occurrences of feces being spread on walls before.”


Police Files

What will Laguna do to prepare for future rallies?

Since the rally on Sunday didn’t happen after all – with just a scattering of protesters and counter-protesters wandering around the cobblestones – what will the police department’s strategy be for future possible rallies?

Click on photo for a larger image

Photo by Lynette Brasfield

All was quiet on the western front on Sunday

How does Laguna strike a balance between costs of preparing, and the need to prepare for possible violence?

Click on photo for a larger image

Photo by Scott Brashier

Police outnumbered protestors on Sunday

These are difficult questions, and we appreciate all that LBPD does to keep our community safe.

Stu News asked Sgt Jim Cota what the police department’s plans were at this time for the America First rally that is scheduled for Sunday, Oct 22 at Main Beach.

Sgt Cota told Stu News, “We will have the same coverage. This one appears that it will be much larger.”   

It’s an ongoing question. We’d love our readers’ feedback.


LBPD gather to honor fallen officers during annual ceremony

By BARBARA DIAMOND

Laguna Beach Motorcycle Officer Jon Coutchie died in a traffic accident in 2013 while tracking a reported erratic driver.

Officer Gordon French was shot in 1953 by Carl Miller, who was being booked on suspicion of check kiting, and he died on the trip to Hoag Hospital in Newport Beach. 

Both officers were honored at the Remembrance and Flag Folding Ceremony, held annually on Sept. 21, the anniversary of Coutchie’s death, in front of the police memorial, “Eternal Legacy.” 

“A memorial wasn’t erected in Gordon French’s honor (at the time of his death), but because of his sacrifice, something more important took place,” said former Police Chief Paul Workman. 

Recognizing that French’s life might have been saved if medical care had been closer, the community rallied to raise the funds to build South Coast Community Hospital, which opened its doors in 1959, the first hospital in South Orange County, now an affiliate of Mission Hospital.

Click on photo for a larger image

Photo by Sande St. John

LBPD gather outside the police station to honor fallen officers

French was 49 when he died, widowing his wife and leaving his two children fatherless. 

“It is the sacrifice of officers in past years, like Gordon, who so often have saved the lives of officers today,” said Workman.

 Training has vastly improved, Workman said 

In 1965, academy classes lasted two weeks. When Workman joined the force in 1975, graduation took 11 weeks. Now, it takes six months.

“Today, we do everything possible to teach young officers how to avoid placing themselves in harm’s way,” said Workman.

Sometimes training doesn’t help. 

Jon Coutchie’s life was cut far too short, but it was a life well-lived, said Police Capt. Jeff Calvert, Master of Ceremonies and chronicler of Coutchie’s life.  He never flinched from the duty, but it wasn’t as easy as he made it look.

Officer Jon Coutchie

Calvert spoke touchingly of Coutchie. Who better? The two had been friends since high school and it was Calvert who urged Coutchie to join the department after he was discharged from the U. S. Army.

“I knew Jon would love being a police officer because he lived by the same core values that police officers are sworn to uphold,” said Calvert. 

Coutchie, with four tours of duty as a Ranger in the mid-east under his belt, aced the Police Academy course in 2009 and established himself in Laguna’s department, as an officer and a comrade.

“Jon didn’t have children, so he would always volunteer to work shifts on Thanksgiving and Christmas for officers who did have children.” Calvert said.

However, he also served as instructor in firearms and defensive tactics and was selected to become a motorcycle officer. 

“I like to think of Jon at rest in heaven and vigilantly watching over his Laguna Beach team, his Ranger team, his family and his friends.” said Calvert.

Click on photo for a larger image

Photo by Sande St. John

Matt Rolfe, firefighter second time performing, first was for 911 event; John Falk, retired LBPD the very first time performing on drums; and Davy Lopez, bagpiper/firefighter engineer. Facing away from the camera, Derek St. John former director, Laguna Club for Kids

Calvert praised the Laguna Beach residents who stepped up to support the “grieving and deeply wounded department” after Coutchie’s death. 

“The construction of our police memorial, ‘Eternal Legacy,’ wouldn’t have been possible without the unwavering commitment of our community, the Police Employees Assn., the City Council, City Manager John Pietig, Cultural Arts Manager Sian Poeschl, and artists Gerard Stripling and Michele Taylor,” Calvert said.

Calvert concluded by introducing department Honor Guard Sgt. Dave MacGill, who presented a ceremonially lowered and folded flag to Captain Jason Kravetz, in recognition of his nearly 30 years of dedicated service to Laguna Beach. 

Kravetz was speechless.

“Everybody knows I am a crybaby,” Kravetz choked out, before his throat completely tightened. It was okay. 

The annual ceremony brought tears to the eyes of more than a few folks in the audience, as they, Mayor Toni Iseman, Police Chief Laura Farinella and solemn police officers, firefighters and lifeguards placed white roses at the foot of the memorial to fallen officers.

Hard to forget.


Police Files

LBPD will be out “in full force” Sunday, in anticipation of possible rallies

Sgt. Jim Cota told Stu News Laguna on Thursday evening that LBPD will be out “in full force” Sunday, Sep 24 at Main Beach, in anticipation of possible rallies including a previously scheduled (but possibly canceled) America First rally. There will be multiple agencies on hand again, including officers on horseback.

America First’s Johnny Benetiz told LBPD that he would “not be rallying on Sunday”, said Cota, after reports he had received death threats to his family.

However, it is unknown if others from the group will show up, as original plans were to gather Sunday starting at 3 p.m.

Regardless of whether or not America First supporters show up, a peace rally is scheduled for Sunday at Main Beach from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. The rally will be aimed at “promoting peace and unity for our community”. Organizers encourage rally goers to wear pink to support The Race for the Cure.

Click on photo for a larger image

Photo by Scott Brashier

LBPD will patrol Main Beach Sunday in anticipation of possible rallies

 

Three more residential burglaries reported this week

Laguna Beach residents reported three more residential burglaries this week. 

On Sunday, an unknown suspect broke into a residence in the 200 block of San Joaquin Street. Artwork and kitchen items were moved or taken, and a $2,000 chair was also stolen from the residence. A complete inventory is still being compiled.

Two burglaries on High Drive were reported on Wednesday, both of which occurred sometime after August 30. 

“In the first, the suspect broke a bedroom window,” said Sgt. Jim Cota, LBPD spokesperson. “The suspect went through specific drawers looking for small items but did not ransack the entire home.”

The second High Drive burglary had similar circumstances: the suspect broke a rear glass door and went through drawers, but did not ransack the residence. The exact loss for both is still unknown.

“So far, we do not have a connection in the burglaries, but we are not ruling it out,” said Cota.

Cell phone conversation interrupted by robber

On Sunday at 12:52 p.m., officers went to the bus depot on Broadway Street to respond to a call.

While there, the officers were approached by a man who reported that another man had stolen his cell phone.

“The victim stated that he was talking to his mother on the phone when the suspect hit him with a closed fist twice in the mouth and side of his face,” said Sgt. Jim Cota. “The suspect took the phone and ran away.”

Officers were able to locate the suspect, identified as Bryce Summers, 18, no fixed address.

Summers was detained and the phone was returned back to the victim.

Once video footage of the crime was reviewed and the victim’s story verified, Summers was arrested for robbery and was transported to Orange County Jail. Bail was $100,000.


Police Files

Three home burglaries in five days: Laguna police warn residents to be extra vigilant 

In Friday’s edition, we reported on a home burglary that had been interrupted by the North Laguna homeowner last Wednesday the 13th.

On that same evening, just before 8 p.m., a home invasion in the 400 block of Windsor Place was interrupted by a cat sitter entering the residence.

According to a post by the homeowner on NextDoor, the burglar broke a window to enter and left with jewelry.

“With the close distance from the other burglary that night, they could be associated, but we have nothing concrete yet tying them together,” said Sgt. Jim Cota, LBPD spokesperson.

On Sunday at 12:41 a.m., a citizen in the 300 block of Loma Terrace saw an unknown man leaving a residence. The screen and window were removed from the home.

Police officers have not determined if there is a connection between this event and the other recent burglaries in Laguna.

“We will be beefing up patrol officers looking for the people responsible,” said Cota.

Laguna Beach residents must remain vigilant and report suspicious looking individuals and vehicles – and if you see something, say something, he advises.

Additionally, residents can take advantage of vacation checks offered by the police department. To apply for basic house check services, visit the Laguna Beach police station at 505 Forest Avenue. And, alert neighbors you trust about any upcoming trips and ask that they keep an eye on your property during that time. When you leave town, don’t leave signs of an empty house.

“Our police department cannot be fully effective without the community’s help and support,” said Cota. “We need you as much as you need us. Together we can make a big difference.”

LBPD welcomes two new officers

The Laguna Beach Police department swore in two new officers on Monday.

Officer Priscilla Angeloni was sponsored through the Golden West Police Academy after serving as a jailer.

Officer Jeremiah Kennedy spent the last three years working for the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department.

 

Click on photos for a larger image

Photos courtesy of LBPD

Meet LBPD’s newest officers, Priscilla Angeloni and Jeremiah Kennedy


Police Files

North Laguna resident interrupts a burglary

On Wednesday at 9:02 p.m., officers received a call from a resident in the 500 block of Poplar Street.

“The woman heard some noise in a guest bedroom and when she went to investigate, a man wearing a black hoodie and gloves told her to ‘get out of here’,” said Sgt. Jim Cota, LBPD spokesperson. 

According to a post on NextDoor, the victim went back into her bedroom where she immediately called 911.

Officers arrived on the scene two minutes later, but the man was no longer in the house. They were unable to find him in the area as well. 

Officers believe the suspect entered the home through a screen in the guest bedroom that had been pushed into the room.

No loss was reported at this time.


Police Files

Boyfriend and girlfriend arrested in last week’s home burglary

On Tuesday, we reported that a Laguna Beach resident returned home on Friday to a burglary in progress – his garage door had been broken in and there was an unknown Hyundai parked in his driveway. 

The RP called police and waited for officers to arrive. While waiting, he saw a man and a woman walk out of his house with a clothes hamper. The pair entered the Hyundai parked in the driveway and left – with $5,000 in stolen purses and $12,000 in stolen jewelry.

On Wednesday, Laguna Beach detectives went to the City of Orange to visit Zachary Morales, 26, and his girlfriend, Tiffanie Moreland, 23, suspects in the case. When detectives spoke with the pair, they denied their involvement in the Laguna Beach burglary despite the following:

1. A white Hyundai Sonata was seen fleeing from the Laguna Beach burglary. Tiffanie drives a white Hyundai Sonata.

2. The female suspect in the Laguna Beach burglary case was described as thin, with pink hair. Tiffanie is also thin, and had pink hair up until this past weekend, when she changed it to magenta.

3. Stolen property from residential burglaries in Villa Park and Laguna Hills was found in a storage unit leased to Zachary and Tiffanie.

4. Zachary is on parole and served time in prison for residential burglaries.

LBPD Booking photos

Zachary Morales and Tiffanie Moreland

Morales and Moreland were arrested for burglary.


Police Files

Man who sucker-punched Trump supporter will see jail time

On Tuesday, August 22, Richard Losey, 20, from Ohio, was arrested for sucker-punching an African-American Trump supporter after the rally that took place on Sunday the 20th at Main Beach. He was charged with misdemeanor battery.

On Friday, September 1, Losey pleaded guilty and was sentenced to thirty days in county jail followed by three years of informal probation.

Resident discovers burglary in progress at his home

On Friday, September 1, a resident in the 30600 block of Driftwood Drive arrived home only to realize that an unfamiliar car was parked in their driveway. The resident also noticed that the garage door appeared to be broken in.

The RP called the police and waited for officers to arrive. While waiting, he saw a man and a woman walk out of his house with a clothes hamper. The pair entered the white Hyundai parked in the driveway and left, hitting the victim’s vehicle on their way out.

When officers arrived, they confirmed that the home had indeed been broken into, and the duo had made off with $5,000 in purses and $12,000 in jewelry.

The suspects were described as a woman in her 20s or 30s with pink or red hair, and a man wearing a blue bandana across his face.


Police Files

Something’s up in the neighborhood…

On Thursday morning, the Laguna Beach PD was called to help out Homeland Security and the IRS with a federal search warrant. 

“The warrant was executed at approximately 8 a.m. at a residence in the 2000 block of Crestview Drive,” said Sgt. Jim Cota, LBPD spokesperson. “Two vehicles and documents were seized by the federal agents.”

Because it is an ongoing federal investigation, no further details are available at this time. 

Click on photo for a larger image

Courtesy LBPD Facebook


Police Files

Property manager arrested for jewelry heist of South Laguna home

On Tuesday, August 15, Laguna Beach Police Officers responded to investigate a report of a residential burglary in South Laguna. The residence is a vacation home, and the owners were out of town at the time. The property manager, 36-year-old Raul Aguilera, had notified police about the burglary and the homeowners listed multiple pieces of jewelry missing from their residence. The total reported loss of jewelry was more than three quarters of a million dollars – $765,912.00.

On August 21, detectives from the Laguna Beach Police Department began their investigation and through additional follow-up, identified Aguilera as the suspect in the case. The investigation led detectives to a pawn shop in Orange County, where they were able to locate some of the missing jewelry and seize it as evidence.

On August 23, detectives served a search warrant on Aguilera’s residence. During the search of Aguilera’s home, detectives located additional stolen property and jewelry belonging to the victims in this case.

Aguilera was taken into custody without incident and booked into Orange County Jail, where he is being held on $765,912 bail – the exact amount the jewelry had been valued at. He has since pleaded not guilty to the felony grand theft charge.

Anyone with any information regarding this investigation is encouraged to call the Laguna Beach Police Department at (949) 497-0701.  For further information, please contact Sergeant Jim Cota at (949) 464-6671 or This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

 

DUI Checkpoint nets five arrests

LBPD conducted a DUI/Drivers License checkpoint on August 26, in the area of Coast Highway and Aliso Beach between the hours of 9 p.m. and 3 a.m.

Checkpoints are placed in locations that have the greatest opportunity for achieving drunk and drugged driving deterrence and provide the greatest safety for officers and the public. 

Here are the stats from Friday: 1,834 vehicles went through the Checkpoint; 864 drivers were greeted. Five DUI-Alcohol suspects were arrested. Four drivers were cited/arrested for operating a vehicle unlicensed or while suspended/revoked and four citations were issued. 

Drivers caught driving impaired can expect the impact of a DUI arrest to include jail time, fines, fees, DUI classes, other expenses that can exceed $10,000 not to mention the embarrassment when friends and family find out. 

The Laguna Beach Police Department will be conducting numerous DUI education/enforcement details throughout 2017 in an ongoing commitment to lowering deaths and injuries upon our streets and highways. 

The checkpoint was funded 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

Peace, love – and then a punch at Sunday’s rally

Placards pleading for love and peace dominated at the 2,500 strong rally last Sunday afternoon – mixed in with aggressive slogans carried by extremists on the left and right – and finally, after hours of relative calm, came “The Punch.” 

And now video of The Punch is all over social media, from You Tube to activist websites.

“The victim, an African American Republican and supporter of President Trump, was speaking peacefully with a group of people when he was sucker-punched,” LBPD spokesperson Sgt Jim Cota said. “The attacker fled from the scene and incident went unreported at the time. The next day the victim, R.C. Maxwell of Los Angeles, reported the attack.”

This video captures the punch

According to media reports, Maxwell said he was trying to make the point that being against illegal immigration didn’t make someone a Nazi sympathizer. Associates of his were filming with their cell phones when the incident took place.

“There was no indication that the violence was a set-up in any way,” Sgt Cota said. “There’s no way to take a punch like that and not be hurt.”

Sgt Cota said that the suspect, identified as Richard Losey, 20, was “a familiar face” around town and within 24 hours “in typical LBPD no-nonsense style,” Losey was in custody.

Losey’s motivations for throwing the punch remain unknown.

“The suspect is not a transient, but he does not appear to have a permanent home here in Laguna,” Cota added. “He’s from Lancaster, Ohio, and was caught while trying to get a bus pass back there.”

Losey was booked into Orange County Jail with a $50,000 bail for misdemeanor battery with a hate crime enhancement.

His arrest brings the number of arrests related to Sunday’s rally to four, including the arrest of Harlan Pankau Jr., 38, for felony for carrying a concealed dirk or dagger. Bail in his case was set at $20,000.

Attempts to reach Mr. Maxwell for comment were unsuccessful.

Anyone with any information regarding this investigation is encouraged to call Laguna Beach Police Department at (949) 497-0701. 

 

This week, someone got a visit from the LBPD…

More to come, Sgt Cota promises – we’ll be following up…

Click on photo for a larger image

Photo from LBPD Facebook page

Det Cornelius Ashton pays a visit

 

Remember, DUI doesn’t just mean booze: checkpoint planned for this weekend

The Laguna Beach Police Department will be conducting a DUI/driver’s license checkpoint on Saturday, August 26 at an undisclosed location within the city limits between 9 p.m. and 3 a.m.

California has seen a disturbing increase in drug-impaired driving crashes, according to the press release. Laguna Beach PD and the Office of Traffic Safety aim to educate all drivers that “DUI Doesn’t Just Mean Booze.” Prescription drugs and marijuana can also be impairing, especially in combination with alcohol or other drugs, and can result in a DUI.

Research shows that crashes involving an impaired driver can be reduced by up to 20 percent when well-publicized, proactive DUI operations are conducted routinely. In California, alcohol involved collisions led to 1,155 deaths and nearly 24,000 serious injuries in 2014 because someone failed to designate a sober driver.

Officers will be looking for signs of alcohol and/or drug impairment and checking drivers for proper licensing. 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 LBPD by a grand from the California Office of Traffic Safety, through the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, reminding everyone to ‘Report Drunk Driving – Call 911.’

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.


Peace, love and protective police kept Saturday rally safe, joyful and positive

Approximately 350 people gathered at Main Beach on Saturday morning to celebrate love, diversity and equality, and to protest racism and neo-Nazi philosophies following the tragic events in Charlottesville. 

Click on photo for a larger image

Photo by Lynette

Almost all demonstrators carried placards with positive messages

The decision to rally before the following day’s planned America First march would, Mayor Toni Iseman and Democratic groups hoped, offer residents an opportunity to express their emotions while denying oxygen to the anti-immigration group meeting on Sunday evening. 

“Here in Laguna, we don’t just tolerate diversity,” Iseman said, “We embrace diversity.”  

The “Unity Rally” was peaceful (in a loud way, given the chants) from beginning to end. Police officers were visible, deterring the likelihood of aggression on anyone’s part, though this particular crowd seemed composed almost entirely of like-minded people. 

Several speakers, including Mayor Iseman, paid tribute to the LBPD for their vigilance and support, as well as their work in communicating with the community about the rally.

A lone Trump supporter, Cherie Allen, aimed a double thumbs-down sign a few times in the direction of the placard-carrying crowd. But Allen said she shares the desire for peace, yet feels that as a Christian she is targeted sometimes by liberals. 

She supports President Trump, “Though I don’t agree with everything he says,” Allen said. “But he hasn’t been given a chance. He needs to be given the respect of the office.” 

The 50-year-Laguna resident sat quietly during the speeches, occasionally mouthing agreement or disagreement, but listening respectfully.

“I can’t support people who [support abortion],” noted Allen, who says she has sometimes been known as the “Peace Lady of Laguna.”

Click on photo for a larger image

Photo by Lynette

L-R: Rick Fletcher and his wife, Lori Werstein and Dan Mariner

Most at the rally felt particular protective of Laguna.

Resident Dan Mariner said, “What makes Laguna great is that it is such a melting pot, a microcosm of America. Different cultures are welcome here.”

Rick Fletcher nodded. “Laguna is all about love.”

Rick’s wife (my apologies, I can’t find her name in my notes!) told Stu News Laguna, “My parents brought me here when I was just five years old, decades ago. I know they’d approve of this. Laguna is no place for hate.”

Daughter-in-law Lori Werstein commented: “It felt hopeful and peaceful, very positive, this morning. That’s what we need.”

Thank goodness, there were no sounds of gunshots or screams of injured victims: only the honk of horns, chanting, and the barking of dogs; no smell of smoke, only the briny breeze; no shoving, only hugs and pats on the back.

Laguna’s reputation as a peaceful town remained intact. And then came Sunday…and (see Barbara Diamond’s report), peace pretty much continued to reign.

--Lynette Brasfield


Police Files

Run + ignore officer’s commands = maybe a  Taser

On Thursday around 9:30 p.m., officers contacted a man at Jasmine Street and N. Coast Hwy. The man was drinking alcohol from a cup and gave officers a false name.

During the interaction with officers, the man, later identified as Ralph Bowers, 47, Huntington Beach, took off running from the officer in the middle of Coast Hwy.

“Bowers ignored the officer’s commands to stop,” said Sgt. Jim Cota, LBPD spokesperson. “He was told to stop or a Taser would be utilized to stop him.”

Despite these verbal warnings, Bowers continued to run and was subsequently tasered. Additionally, a brief fight ensued between him and the arresting officer.

Bowers was taken into custody and charged with resisting a police officer, delaying/obstructing an officer, providing false information, and battery on an officer. He was booked and transported to Orange County Jail. 

Remember, DUI doesn’t just mean booze: checkpoint planned for this weekend

The Laguna Beach Police Department will be conducting a DUI/driver’s license checkpoint on Saturday, August 26 at an undisclosed location within the city limits between 9 p.m. and 3 a.m.

California has seen a disturbing increase in drug-impaired driving crashes, according to the press release. Laguna Beach PD and the Office of Traffic Safety aim to educate all drivers that “DUI Doesn’t Just Mean Booze.” Prescription drugs and marijuana can also be impairing, especially in combination with alcohol or other drugs, and can result in a DUI.

Research shows that crashes involving an impaired driver can be reduced by up to 20 percent when well-publicized, proactive DUI operations are conducted routinely. In California, alcohol involved collisions led to 1,155 deaths and nearly 24,000 serious injuries in 2014 because someone failed to designate a sober driver.

Officers will be looking for signs of alcohol and/or drug impairment and checking drivers for proper licensing. 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 LBPD by a grand from the California Office of Traffic Safety, through the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, reminding everyone to ‘Report Drunk Driving – Call 911.’

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

18-year-old arrested for stealing a car

On Monday, August 14, at 9:12 p.m., officers were alerted to a stolen Toyota Tacoma entering the city. It had been stolen out of Lake Forest on Friday.

Laguna Beach police officers located the car and had all three of its occupants detained by 9:25 p.m.

The driver, 18-year-old Luis Reynasoto from Lake Forest, was arrested for possession of a stolen vehicle, receipt of stolen property, and burglary.

The truck was returned to its owner.

Don’t light tree branches on fire

On Sunday afternoon, a caller reported seeing two men using rags to extinguish a tree branch that was on fire near Stan Oak Drive and Laguna Canyon Road.

Orange County Fire Authority was called, but requested that Laguna Beach handle the situation due to the small size of the fire.

The branch was extinguished just six minutes after the initial call.

One of the two men, Kameran Cherrier, 29, Laguna Beach, was arrested for resisting officers and for misdemeanor reckless burning.


Police Files

Motorist vs bicyclist: bicyclist wins

On Thursday, August 10, at 9:42 a.m., Laguna Beach police officers responded to a report of a disturbance at the intersection of Bluebird Canyon Road and S Coast Hwy.

According to witnesses on scene, the disturbance began when the suspect, a motorist, intentionally struck a person riding his bicycle. When confronted about this by another bicyclist, the suspect then intentionally tried to run him over as well. The suspect fled the scene prior to officers arriving.

Laguna Beach Police Department patrol officers and detectives responded to the scene and obtained a description of the suspect and his vehicle. Using this information, detectives identified Kevin O’Neill, a 53-year-old resident of Laguna Beach, as a possible suspect. Witnesses and victims positively identified O’Neill in a photo lineup.

On Sunday, August 13, police officers stopped O’Neill while he was driving his vehicle and placed him under arrest. He was charged with two counts of assault with a deadly weapon and booked into Orange County Jail.

Anyone with any information regarding this investigation is encouraged to call the Laguna Beach Police Department at 949-497-0701. For further information, please contact Sergeant Jim Cota at 949-464-6671 or This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

Road rage results in DUI arrest

On Saturday around 3 p.m., callers reported that a Toyota Camry rear-ended a Tesla and attempted to drive away.

When officers arrived, they discovered that the victim stood in front of the Camry as it was attempting to leave the scene and was struck by the vehicle.

“The driver, identified as 57-year-old Anaheim resident William Boeck, exhibited signs of driving while impaired and was investigated for driving under the influence,” said Sgt. Jim Cota. 

Boeck was arrested for a fourth offense of driving under the influence and, since he tried to hit the other party with his car, assault with a deadly weapon.


Police Files

Unwanted sleepover nets arrest

On Monday, August 7 around 8:15 a.m., officers responded to a residence under construction in the 2400 block of S. Coast Hwy. A caller had reported a suspicious person on the property.

“Upon arrival, the officers immediately recognized the man as Reese Westenberger,” said Sgt. Jim Cota, LBPD spokesperson. “Inside the residence, property was located that belonged to him.”

Westenberger, 52, no fixed address admitted to staying at the residence overnight and storing his property there.

He was arrested for burglary and later transported to Orange County Jail.


Police Files

There’s no Jell-o in jail

On Saturday, August 5 at 5:17 a.m., a residential alarm went off in the 800 block of S. Coast Hwy. Officers went to the scene and found an open slider door, which they entered. After announcing their presence, they heard movement on the upper floor.

Ross Simard, 34, Malibu, was detained in handcuffs after coming down the stairs. He first claimed to be the owner of the property, and then claimed his girlfriend owned the property. But, the names he gave were not associated with the property. The caretaker and owner verified that Simard should not have been on the property.

Surveillance footage shows Ross Simard, 34, Malibu, at a residence in the 800 block of S. Coast Hwy.

 “A search of the interior showed Simard had taken food out and made himself a snack, which included Jell-o,” said Sgt. Jim Cota, LBPD spokesperson. 

Simard was arrested for burglary, providing a false name to police, and a $300,000 felony warrant for a prior burglary in Los Angeles. 

“He also told officers he swallowed two grams of heroin before he was contacted inside the residence,” said Cota. “He was taken to Mission Hospital for a medical clearance and then transported to Orange County Jail,” where, we are told, there is no Jell-o. 

Doctor shopper is prescribed jail

On Wednesday around 4 p.m., a woman arrived at Mission Hospital for multiple medical ailments. But, medical staff was aware that a woman matching her description would visit hospitals, request medications and extend her stay. 

Officers were contacted, and the woman, Texas resident Tenetra Jones, 31, attempted to leave upon finding this out.

“Inside Jones’ bag was discharge paperwork from various hospitals,” said Cota. “They all had different names. Also located was prescription pills in another name.

“Officers believed she was ‘Doctor Shopping’ and had over 30 different medications and associated ailments in which certain medication was given,” he explained.

Jones was ultimately arrested for providing false names for medical services, providing a false name to an officer, and entering a business with the intent to defraud.


Incident Reports

Saturday, June 9

Pearl Street & S. Coast Hwy | DUI

11:07 p.m. A 56-year-old woman from Laguna Beach was arrested on suspicion of DUI. Bail was set at $2,500.

Reef Point & Coast Hwy | DUI

10:30 p.m. A 36-year-old woman from Corona Del Mar was arrested on suspicion of DUI. Bail was set at $2,500.

N. Coast Hwy | 100 Block | Possession of a Controlled Substance, Possession of Drug Paraphernalia

9:14 p.m. Robert Lenn Caltabiano, 45, Laguna Beach, was arrested for being in possession of a controlled substance (bail was set at $500), and for being in possession of drug paraphernalia (bail was set at $500).

S. Coast Hwy | 100 Block | Drunk in Public

4 p.m. A 64-year-old man from Laguna Beach was arrested for being drunk in public. Bail was set at $500.

S. Coast Hwy | 100 Block | Battery

3:20 p.m. Shannon Leigh Cusick, 48, Laguna Beach, was arrested for battery. Bail was set at $500.

N. Coast Hwy | 600 Block | Drunk in Public

10:25 a.m. A 55-year-old man was arrested for being drunk in public. Bail was set at $500.

Moss Street & S. Coast Hwy | DUI

7:53 a.m. Nicholas Anthony Aho, 26, Laguna Niguel, was arrested on suspicion of DUI. Aho had one prior arrest for DUI. Bail was set at $10,000.

N. Coast Hwy | 200 Block | Indecent Exposure

5:23 a.m. Kyle James Rusher, Laguna Hills, 25, was arrested for indecent exposure. Bail was set at $500.

Bluebird Canyon Drive & S. Coast Hwy | DUI

2:35 a.m. A 22-year-old man from San Clemente was arrested on suspicion of DUI. Bail was set at $2,500.

Upland Road & S. Coast Hwy | DUI

1:38 a.m. A 24-year old woman from Mission Viejo was arrested on suspicion of DUI. Bail was set at $2,500.

Friday, June 8

S. Coast Hwy | 1500 Block | DUI

12:16 a.m. A 28-year old man from Laguna Niguel was arrested on suspicion of DUI. Bail was set at $2,500.

Canyon Acres Drive & Laguna Canyon Road | DUI

11:59 p.m. A 47-year-old man from Ladera Ranch was arrested on suspicion of DUI. Bail was set at $2,500.

Pearl Street | 300 Block | DUI

10:41 p.m. A 72-year old man from Laguna Beach was arrested on suspicion of DUI. Bail was set at $2,500.

Broadway & Coast Hwy | DUI

10:31 p.m. A 22-year-old woman from Irvine was arrested on suspicion of DUI. Bail was set at $2,500.

Broadway Place & N. Coast Hwy | DUI

8:59 a.m. Ricardo Flores, 27, Santa Ana, was arrested on suspicion of DUI. Flores had one prior arrest for DUI. Bail was set at $10,000.

Broadway Street | 200 Block | Warrant

8:43 a.m. Kirt Louis Storm, 61, Laguna Beach, was arrested on a Harbor Court warrant for driving with a suspended license. Bail was set at $1,500.

Laguna Canyon Road | 20600 Block | Trespassing

3:51 a.m. Kenneth Lee Koestler, 43, Laguna Beach, was arrested for trespassing (bail was set at $500), and for being under the influence of a controlled substance (bail was set at $1,000).

San Joaquin Street & N. Coast Hwy | DUI

1:43 a.m. A 37-year-old man from Newport Beach was arrested on suspicion of DUI. Bail was set at $2,500.

Thursday, June 7

Glenneyre Street | 400 Block | Warrant

10:04 p.m. Brandon Christopher Morris, 33, Newport Beach, was arrested on a Harbor Court warrant for driving with a suspended license. Bail was set at $1,500.

Pearl Street & S. Coast Hwy | Drunk in Public

9:32 p.m. A 55-year-old man from Laguna Beach was arrested for being drunk in public. Bail was set at $500.

S. Coast Hwy | 300 Block | Drunk in Public

6:20 p.m. A 26-year-old man from Texas was arrested for being drunk in public. Bail was set at $500.

7th Avenue & Coast Hwy | Warrant

4:13 p.m. Ronald Michael Rackemann, 54, Laguna Niguel, was arrested on a Harbor Court warrant. Bail was set at $2,500.

Wednesday, June 6

S. Coast Hwy | 1400 Block | DUI

11:08 p.m. A 69-year-old man from Laguna Niguel was arrested on suspicion of DUI. Bail was set at $2,500.

S. Coast Hwy & Mountain Road | DUI

9:30 p.m. A Range Rover hit a parked car and flipped over. The driver refused medical treatment, stating that she was not injured. A 52-year-old woman from Laguna Beach was arrested on suspicion of DUI. Bail was set at $2,500.

S. Coast Hwy | 600 Block | Warrant

1:26 a.m. Quy Huynh, 41, Garden Grove, was arrested on a Del Norte Superior Court warrant. Bail was set at $2,500.

S. Coast Hwy | 600 Block | Indecent Exposure

12:46 a.m. Olivia Lauren Siemon, 27, Laguna Beach, and Maxwell Carlton Post, 27, Laguna Beach, were arrested for disorderly conduct/soliciting a lewd act. Bail was set at $1,000 for each individual.


Police Files

Smurf gets young men into trouble: Was it Jokey?

On Monday afternoon, a citizen reported vandalism that had just occurred on the 100 block of Thalia Street – the word “Smurf” had been written with a white marker onto a trashcan. 

Two young men, who were sitting in a vehicle directly next to the trashcan, proved to be uncooperative with officers. Inside the vehicle, the officers found an open 12 ounce glass bottle of Corona beer and an odor of marijuana. 

“A search of the vehicle revealed more beer and three grams of marijuana,” LBPD spokesperson Sgt. Jim Cota said. 

Officers found a white marker consistent with the graffiti on the trashcan in the center console. 

Vincent Podegracz, 19, from Redondo Beach was cited for possession of marijuana and possession of a paint marker. 

The other occupant, Dylan Hyman, 19, of Torrance, was taken into custody for possessing a fake identification used to purchase alcohol, possession of a switchblade knife, delaying/resisting arrest, possession of alcohol, and possession of a paint marker and aerosol cans to commit vandalism.

Not the kind of behavior one would expect from true Smurf fans! 

The moral of the story? It doesn’t pay to be uncooperative with the cops, no matter how minor the offense may seem.


Police Files

Glenneyre Street residences get a smashing wake-up

On Friday night at 11:45 p.m., after getting kicked out of Skyloft, 21-year-old Laguna Beach resident Zachary McGuinness was doing burnouts in the upper Glenneyre parking structure.

Photo by Kris Kovach

What it looked like the night of…

After his Tahoe struck a parked Mazda, he left the structure and took his burnouts to the street. That didn’t end up so well for the residents in the 500 block of Glenneyre Street.

Photo by Scott Brashier

The garages were red-tagged after a drunk driver crashed into them Friday night

“He lost control of the Chevy, which veered to the right and plowed through the triple garage doors,” explained Sgt. Jim Cota, LBPD spokesperson. “He was not injured,” and according to the police log, was able to get himself out of the vehicle.

McGuinness, who turned 22 on Saturday, was subsequently arrested for DUI with a BAC of 0.08 percent or above. 

Though a city building inspector red-tagged the garages, no residents were displaced.


Police Files

“They are brazen…” Two slickly dressed men steal nearly $200K from five shops at The Cliff

On July 26 at approximately 5 a.m., two men forced entry into five businesses located at The Shops at The Cliff’ Restaurant. The businesses included an art gallery, a jewelry store, and three other merchandise and retail shops. 

The total loss is estimated at more than $200,000. The suspects are described as two white male adults wearing long pants, button-up long-sleeved shirts, and heavy-duty gloves. Both were also wearing fedora/driving cap style hats.

LBPD is actively investigating a series of related commercial burglaries. Detectives have released images and surveillance video of the suspects and are asking for the public’s help in identifying them. (See above.)

“They are brazen, slick bandits. We are already getting tips galore,” Sgt. Cota told Stu News Laguna. “Time is ticking for them.”

Anyone with any information regarding this investigation or other similar incidents is asked to call the Laguna Beach Police Department at 949-497-0701. 

To submit tips anonymously, contact Crime Stoppers at 855-TIPS-OCCS or 855-847-6227. You can also reach Crime Stoppers online at www.crimestoppers.org

Man arrested with drugs, switchblade, leaded cane

On Sunday around 9 p.m., officers who responded to assist lifeguards near West Street Beach found more than they were expecting.

Forty-five minutes after arriving, Christopher Romano, 36, Rancho Santa Fe was arrested on an outstanding warrant.

He was also found to be in possession of drugs and weaponry, including a switchblade and a leaded cane. Romano was booked on those charges and held with $20,000 bail. 


Police Files

Dogged action helps cops nab car thief

Last Friday, July 21 at around 10 p.m., diners at Moulin Bistro and Alessa Laguna looked up from their plates to see a high-risk vehicle stop taking place – and Laguna’s police dog, Ranger, being quite persuasive in encouraging a car thief to surrender.

Valarie Hewin  (58), no fixed address, was arrested at gunpoint for possession of a stolen vehicle and driving on a suspended license. Hewin also had an outstanding felony no-bail warrant for her arrest. 

“Ranger was helpful in persuading her to surrender,” LBPD spokesperson Sgt. Jim Cota said. “If you’re a criminal, you don’t want to mess with that dog.”

The black Nissan Altima had been reported stolen from Enterprise Rent-a-Car. Officers first spotted the stolen vehicle driving northbound on S. Coast Highway from Nyes Place. 

German Auto thief apprehended

On Friday, an RP from German Auto brought police officers surveillance video from a burglary that took place at the business. An unknown individual entered the premises and took items from several vehicles.

“A suspect was located and admitted to stealing the items. He was identified as homeless resident Brandon Heath,” Sgt. Cota said.

Heath, age 23, was charged with grand theft, possession of stolen property, attempted vehicle theft, and tampering with a vehicle.

New police officers join LBPD

Three new Laguna Beach police officers were sworn in recently: Officer Ashley Krotine, Officer Shahriyar (Shar) Hariri, and Officer Rajen Patel. 

Officers Ashley Krotine, Shahriyar (Shar) Harrir and Rajen Patel

Officer Krotine and Officer Patel are graduates of the Golden West Police Academy and Officer Hariri is a lateral officer from the San Diego School Police Department.

Officer Patel was a police officer in London, England before moving to the United States with his family. 

“We are very happy to have them as part of our team,” LBPD spokesperson Sgt. Jim Cota said.


Police Files

Here’s a shocker in Police Files – good news!

Remember our story last week about Reed Swingley, 54, of Sun City, who stole goods from individuals as well Mozambique Restaurant, Tortilla Republic and an architectural business downtown? Items that included personal jewelry, a safe, a large amount of cash, an antique saxophone and a bronze statue, found in his truck?

To recap, last Sunday, after a high-risk traffic stop, Swingley was arrested for burglary, possession of stolen property, possession of a controlled substance, as well as other theft related charges.

But (in addition to his arrest) here’s the good news: detectives were able to track down some of the people who had their valuables stolen.

Courtesy LBPD

Betty Jo Young is thrilled to have her jewelry back, courtesy LBPD

According to police reports, 89 year-old Betty Jo Young, whose belongings and jewelry were stolen from her hotel room in town while she was in the hospital recovering from a fall, was thrilled to know that her diamond wedding rings and a diamond heart pendant, given to her by her late husband Coleman Young, had been recovered.

Also, LBPD Sgt Cota tells us, a rare bronze art piece was returned to its owner, Horst Noppenberger, who owns Noppenberger owns Horst Architects in Laguna Beach.

An antique saxophone was also returned to its owner.

Photo courtesy LBPD

Detectives Mirakian and Ocampo celebrate the return of stolen goods

“This has been a great experience for our detectives and a tribute to LBPD teamwork,” Sgt Jim Cota said. “We are in the process of giving the stolen property back to the owners. We just gave a woman back her purses and we’re going to be giving a woman back her wedding ring. She is ecstatic!”

Sgt Cota added that the investigation of this case is still ongoing and, because of its complexity, will take time to complete.

You’re never too old to … steal?

Just because you get older, of course you still want to wear the kinds of clothes that’ll help you steal the show at a party – but most senior women prefer to buy rather than burgle when choosing an arresting outfit.

Not so for three “older” women (according to police reports, not me, I’m 61) who attempted to swipe clothes from Sunny Days and were arrested on the corner of Laguna Ave and S. Coast Highway. 

Diana Lynn Carnivalli, 51, of Nevada, with charges pending, and Linda Maria Webster, 46, Nevada, with a Ventura warrant bail $5000, were taken into custody.

Arrests were for petty theft, possession of stolen property, and burglary tools – small pliers used to cut the sensors off clothing.

Apparently a Chihuahua, pushed in a cart, was an unwitting accomplice. 

The third woman was released with no charges.


Police Files

Caught red-handed at Cleo: teamwork by cops leads to arrest of man who burgled local businesses

Reed Swingley, 54, of Sun City, thought he’d just, you know, swing by Laguna Beach last Sunday – but it turns out that it isn’t such a good idea for a suspected criminal to revisit the scene of a crime.

Especially with stolen goods inside his truck.

“During the first two weeks of July, we investigated three separate commercial burglaries and a residential burglary,” Sgt. Jim Cota, LBPD spokesperson, told Stu News Laguna. “The businesses included Mozambique Restaurant, Tortilla Republic and an architecture business downtown.”

Items stolen included a safe, a large amount of cash, an antique saxophone and a bronze statue.

According to Sgt. Cota, a review of surveillance video from one of the businesses, as well as the residence, identified a person of interest and a suspect vehicle. 

Then, on Sunday July 16 at approximately 5 p.m., LBPD officers learned that suspect vehicle was seen in the city. 

Patrol officers located the vehicle and initiated a high-risk traffic stop on Coast Highway and Cleo.

“This arrest was a true team effort by both Patrol Officers and Detectives. Patrol handled the high-risk stop and detectives took over the investigation. Truly a combined effort,” Sgt Cota notes.     

The vehicle driver, 54-year-old Reed Swingley of Sun City, was detained after officers saw what they believed to be some of the stolen property from these burglaries inside the truck. 

Swingley was arrested for burglary, possession of stolen property, possession of a controlled substance, as well as other theft related charges. He was booked at the Laguna Beach Jail and transported to Orange County Jail. 

Anyone with any information regarding this investigation should call the Laguna Beach Police Department at (949) 497-0701.

And the day before, our cops had a red-letter day at Ruby’s

Despite working countless overtime hours on a spate of criminal activity and high risk vehicle stops in Laguna Beach – stops often initiated by sharp-eyed cops noticing a stolen vehicle cruising through our town – 25 LBPD police officers took the time to raise an astonishing and wonderful record-breaking $46,000 to support the Special Olympics, working alongside 12 athletes from Laguna Hills Hawks to serve customers at Ruby’s Diner on a busy Saturday afternoon.

Jennifer Mills, who manages volunteer and special events for the Special Olympics, was quoted as saying that “law enforcement usually raises about $5,000.”

Laguna’s police officers earned nine times as much. 

Thursday chase ended with crash on Wave Street

Last Thursday, Newport Beach Police pursued a driver heading south along Coast Highway. At 5:28 p.m., Casey Adamczyk, 28, of Corona del Mar, who was wanted for assault with a deadly weapon, crashed into a power pole at Wave Street.

Click on photo for a larger image

Reader Scott Methvin submitted this photo of the dramatic crash

Laguna Beach PD officers responded and assisted with the investigation. Adamczyk was arrested by Newport Beach PD and taken back to their PD for booking.


Police Files

Former employee Christine Black embezzles $65,000 from Laguna Nursery

On March 17, 2016, Economic Crimes Detectives opened a fraud investigation into a former employee of Laguna Nursery, who was accused of embezzling money from the business. 

“The year-long investigation revealed that Christine Black, 47, issued checks to herself and reported the checks as payments for various vendors,” Sgt Cota, LBPD spokesperson. 

Black embezzled more than $65,000, Sgt Cota added. 

The investigation also revealed Black was on probation for a similar case in Rockingham County, North Carolina. In that case, she embezzled approximately $100,000. 

On July 5, Black pled guilty to 38 felony counts of forgery and identity theft in Harbor Court. She was sentenced to 16 months in jail, restitution, and is scheduled to be extradited to North Carolina at the conclusion of this case. 

“This case is yet another reminder that when you victimize small business owners and innocent people in our city, the Laguna Beach Police Department will investigate it thoroughly and bring in the resources necessary to work toward successful prosecution of the case,” said Sgt. Jim Cota, LBPD Investigations Division. 

The case was prosecuted by Senior Deputy District Attorney, Marc Labreche of the Major Fraud Unit. 

Looking for someone to talk to? Don’t call 911

On Tuesday, July 11, officers received a call from a man reporting a domestic violence incident. 

Unfortunately for him, there was no such incident.

“He made up the call to have officers respond so he could have ‘someone to talk to,’” explained Sgt. Jim Cota. “He was advised that this was misuse of 911.”

The man, Brennan Afrasiabi, 19, Laguna Beach, was arrested for misusing 911. But that wasn’t the end of it for him.

“During the booking process, he became aggressive and caused a disturbance in the jail,” said Cota. “He spat in the face of the jailer.”

Afrasiabi was subsequently charged with using violence to resist officers and was transported to Orange County Jail. 

 Snake too cool to move 

On Saturday, July 8, at 11:45 a.m., a man with a zipper cooler bag entered the library and went to the computers. 

Inside that cooler bag was a live rattlesnake.

Rattlesnake perp pic, courtesy the Internet. Not the actual perpetrator

“The man intended to sell it at the city library,” explained Sgt. Jim Cota. “He was also in possession of methamphetamine.”

The man, Robert Holsinger, 57, Santa Ana, was cited for possession of methamphetamine and possession of a feral/exotic animal. 


Police Files

Parolee on a rampage drives vehicle onto crowded Main Beach sidewalk

Israel Chavez resists arrest, attempts to shove officer into traffic, spits, is tased; police find an eight-year-old girl in the vehicle

Last Sunday evening at 7:21 p.m., LBPD received multiple reports of a possible DUI driver and a vehicle on Coast Highway swerving dangerously in and out of traffic, at one point almost hitting a bicyclist. 

“An officer observed the vehicle making an illegal left turn from northbound Coast Highway onto the 100 block of Laguna Ave,” Sgt Jim Cota, LBPD spokesperson told Stu News. 

“The driver then turned onto El Paseo, hit a parked car, and continued north. He drove onto the cobblestones at Main Beach, then over the grass area, across the sidewalk, which was crowded with pedestrians. It’s amazing that no one was injured.”

The driver, later identified as Israel Chavez, 39, of El Monte, headed south on Coast Highway. Police officers caught up with him near Third Ave on PCH and conducted a high-risk car stop. Officers learned that Chavez was on parole for carjacking,

“Chavez showed signs of alcohol intoxication. He exited the vehicle as requested by officers but then became increasingly uncooperative, attempting to shove the officers back into the traffic,” Sgt Cota says. “Officers were shocked to see that there was an eight-year-old girl seated in the right rear passenger seat.”

Chavez challenged officers to fight and spat at one of them, becoming increasingly combative.

“An officer deployed his Taser. After a struggle on the ground, with Chavez kicking and trying to twist away, officers were able to handcuff him but he continued to fight,” Sgt Cota said.

OC Sheriff’s deputies arrived on the scene to assist and Chavez was finally put in the back of a patrol car. A spit mask was used to prevent him spitting at the officers.

Chavez was taken to Mission Hospital Laguna Beach for a medical clearance. After being cleared, he was taken straight to Orange County Jail and booked on charges of violating his parole, fighting/resisting officers, and child endangerment.

The child was released to her mother and grandmother. 

Chavez, the LBPD has learned, is not the child’s biological father.


Police Files

Sometimes a suitcase is just a suitcase…

Sometimes a suitcase is a just a suitcase, but these days nothing is certain. On Monday, July 3 at 12:18 p.m., a concerned citizen reported seeing a suitcase locked to a stop sign at Temple Hills Drive & Alta Laguna Boulevard. 

“Due to the suspicious nature, the bomb squad was called,” said Sgt. Jim Cota, LBPD spokesperson. “They responded and determined the suitcase was not a dangerous device, but it was destroyed during their investigation.”

Officers are not sure how long the new looking suitcase had been there.

…but sometimes, a cell phone is actually a knife

On the evening of Sunday, July 2, officers responded to the 300 block of Y Place after a resident said his neighbor had threatened him with the 12” hunting knife he had in his hand.

“The suspect stated he did not have a knife, but only his cell phone in his hand,” said Sgt. Jim Cota of the LBPD. “A video recording proved otherwise.” The video showed the suspect making threats with the knife in his hand. 

Martin Edens, 53, Laguna Beach, was arrested for criminal threats and brandishing a knife. He was held with $50,000 bail. 

 

DUI saturation patrols will be on the streets this weekend between 5 p.m. & 3 a.m.

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 Friday, July 7 & Sat, July 8, between the hours of 5 p.m. and 3 a.m. in areas with high frequencies of DUI collisions and/or arrests. 

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. 

If you are impaired by drugs or alcohol, hand over your keys or get a ride home

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. Law Enforcement emphasizes the preventable nature of drunk driving, reminding everyone that all it takes is a little planning ahead. 

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

Sunday sees a rash of crime in Laguna and plenty of arrests: LBPD warns residents to be vigilant

Early Sunday morning at 5:09 a.m., LBPD foiled a burglary and made two arrests for possession of stolen items, burglary tools and meth.

At 12:35 p.m. police officers took four people into custody, two of them charged with grand theft and conspiracy to commit a crime.

At 4:45 p.m., police officers pursued a man in a stolen car who tried to escape arrest by gunning his car toward police officers, who then fired two shots, which didn’t stop the car thief – but the man, identified as Richard Lewis, 54, was cornered not long after and captured near the high school. 

Details about all three incidents are contained below.

Car thief arrested in residents’ backyard after shots fired

“Police officers began a pursuit of a silver Toyota Corolla suspected to have been stolen in Palm Springs the previous day,” Sgt Jim Cota, LBPD spokesperson said. “The driver turned into the 100 block of Thalia, which dead-ends at the beach. Police officers attempted to block his exit route with their cruisers but the man did a sharp U-turn and aimed his car in their direction.

“A female had jumped out - we later determined she wanted no part of it. 

“One of the officers, as the car headed toward him, feared for his and his partner’s life and the safety of people on Coast Highway, so he fired two shots.”

Click on photo for a larger image

Photo by Mary Hurlbut 

Police cars line Thalia

The shots didn’t stop the car thief, later identified as Richard Lewis, 54, a parolee at large wanted on an outstanding no-bail warrant, who then drove toward Cuprien Way. 

A police helicopter circled above the area near the high school, warning people to stay in their homes and be on the lookout for a man in his fifties with a moustache, wearing a plaid shirt.

“The suspect abandoned the vehicle on the 600 block of Cuprien and was cornered in a backyard on Glomstad Lane after jumping fences,” Cota said.

Cota says once in custody, the man complained that his leg hurt, “Not surprising after jumping all those fences,” Cota commented.

Resident Kay Metis said, “We were in the epicenter of helicopter circle with the suspect ultimately apprehended 100 yards from our home. We had ordered a pizza from Gina’s Pizza and they called us back to tell us there was an “active shooting” and they couldn’t get to our home.”

Metis added, “It was a harrowing time for a bit but Laguna Beach pulls together in these rare moments which ultimately results in a feeling of safety.”

(And Gina’s Pizza delivered as soon as the commotion died down, Metis adds…)

Sgt Cota noted, “LBPD will be handling the investigation as the DA’s office won’t get involved because there were no injuries. The OC Sheriff and Newport Beach PD helped out, in a great example of community collaboration.”

Getaway car doesn’t get suspects away

Earlier, at 12:35 p.m., officers responded to citizens’ calls about a theft from Robin’s Jean at 264 Forest Ave. The suspects had grabbed several pairs of jeans and other items and were running toward the US Bank parking lot. 

LBPD booking photos

A waiting car, a white BMW, picked them up and headed south on Glenneyre. Officers located the vehicle after a short pursuit when the BMW turned on Cress. A high-risk vehicle stop ensued. 

Four people were detained. Joshua Hoover, 20, of Inglewood and Jodan Hongocollins, 18, of Los Angeles were charged with grand theft and conspiracy to commit a crime; Maasai Lopez, 21, on a count of petty theft; and charges are pending for Laneice Barnes, who had a stolen ID in her possession. 

U-Haul contains oddly-dressed thieves and their haul

Earlier on Sunday at 5:09 a.m. a resident called to report a white U-Haul with back doors wide open on the 400 block of Panorama Drive.  

“Something seemed suspicious about the vehicle and the RP was correct, there was something not right at all,” Sgt Jim Cota said “Thank goodness for alert residents.”

Inside the vehicle, LBPD patrol officers found a man, 33, and a woman, 23, both dressed oddly - he wore a firefighter’s outfit and she was dressed in some kind of emergency worker’s gear. 

Officers found meth and a meth pipe inside the vehicle, along with burglary tools - and plenty of stolen goods, including clothing and firefighting gear that had been stolen from an out-of-town firefighter staying at a local hotel.

LA resident Travis Alexander, 33, and Buena Park resident Robin Griffin, 23, were arrested for possession of stolen items, burglary tools and meth; in addition, Griffin was charged with possession of a stolen vehicle, a felony.

Detectives are combing through the property to identify which items have been reported stolen.

“We stopped a residential burglary about to take place,” Sgt Cota tells Stu News. “I can’t say enough about the patrol officers who did a great job and the residents who were doing exactly what we ask everyone to do - if you see something, say something. They deserve huge credit. That’s pretty awesome to be willing to get up and do something at that time of the morning.”

How Laguna residents can help

Sgt. Cota adds:

“The citizens of Laguna Beach need to be vigilant. We have terrific residents and the more they help the better off we all are. The Laguna Beach Police Department needs your support and backing as we take on people who come into the city to commit crimes,” he said on Monday as he detailed the crimes for Stu News Laguna. 

“We are prepared for any event or incident that they may bring. Laguna Beach and surrounding cities have changed over the years and that’s not the fault of Laguna or the citizens, it’s that society has changed and criminals head to specific cities for opportunities. 

“The Laguna Beach Police Department is committed 100 percent to its citizens and the people who come to this city on vacation or to just spend the day.”          

--Lynette Brasfield


Police Files

Man eats meth – or tries to

On Tuesday at 9:30 a.m., a concerned caller reported fears that an angry man might attempt to vandalize her vehicle. The man had threatened the RP that “he’d tear the whole place up if she called the police,” according to the police log.

Officers arrived at the 300 block of Broadway Street and detained Ralph Francis Bowers III, 47, Huntington Beach, who “attempted to swallow a baggie of methamphetamine in front of them,” said Sgt. Jim Cota.

Unfortunately for Bowers, the arresting officer was a former narcotics detective and identified the drugs.

Bowers was ultimately arrested for possession of a controlled substance, resisting officers, and parole violation.

Even death certificate is stolen in document burglary

On Monday afternoon, a resident in the 1200 block of Brangwyn Way came home to discover someone had been in his home and had gone through personal items. 

Amongst the missing items were a $1,000 camera lens, various CDs, a jar of change, an antique camera, prescription sleeping pills, and a filing container with auto insurance documents, birth certificates, vaccine records, and more.

A neighbor reported seeing a woman on the property in search of the victim, but it is not clear if this is related. 

Remember, if you see something, say something – you could prevent a crime.


Police Files

Lumberyard vandal apprehended in Tustin

In the wee hours last Thursday morning, a suspect destroyed lights in front of the Lumberyard Restaurant. The damage was estimated to be about $2,000. 

Unfortunately for the suspect, the Lumberyard is right across from the Laguna Beach Police Department, and the entire incident was caught on camera. Not to mention, the suspect had been called to bail out a friend of theirs who had been arrested that night. 

“Sometimes people make bad decisions when they are mad, and this was one of them,” said Sgt. Jim Cota, LBPD spokesperson.

Click on photos for larger images

Photos Courtesy of LBPD

LBPD detectives were able to positively identify the suspects who vandalized the Lumberyard lights thanks to security footage 

“The Investigations Team quickly identified the suspect and located him. There was no hesitation in making the arrest,” said Cota. 

 LBPD Detective Jordan Mirakian called the suspect before the arrest. “I told him, you’re caught, now let’s put this behind us. He agreed. The arrest was uneventful, which is the way we like it,” he said.

LBPD Booking Photo

Noah Laguna

Noah Laguna, 19, Tustin, was taken into custody without incident in Tustin on Thursday. He admitted to what he did and was booked into the Laguna Beach Jail on charges of vandalism.

“We will not tolerate extensive damage done to our businesses and have someone think they are going to get away with it,” said Cota.

More than termites gone after fumigation

Having a home fumigated for termites is not uncommon. Unfortunately, when the tents go up, the home can become a target for crime.

This was the case for homeowners in the 800 block of Coast View Drive. When the owners returned after their house was fumigated, they discovered that the closets had been ransacked, with $10,000 in cash and two watches valued at $40,000 taken.

“This isn’t the first time we’ve heard of this happening,” Sgt. Cota said.

There are no suspects at this time, and the extermination company is conducting its own investigation into the matter as well.


Police Files

LBPD reminds residents to lock their doors following vacation rental break-in

Laguna Beach residents aren’t the only victims in the recent spree of burglaries across town. 

A visitor staying in a vacation rental in the 1100 block of N. Coast Hwy woke up at around 3 a.m. on Wednesday to find someone in her room. Upon seeing that the previously sleeping guest was awake, the suspect fled – but not before grabbing a jacket with $40 inside.

“The suspect entered through unlocked doors,” said Sgt. Jim Cota, LBPD spokesperson. “People need to lock the doors to their residences and vehicles.”

The jacket was recovered, but the money was gone. And, there was a beer on the front porch the following morning that hadn’t been there the night before.

LBPD is looking into the case to see if there are any leads.

Rats! We have a gnawing suspicion that a certain thief was disappointed when he opened stolen packages 

Imagine the scene: you’re just your average burglar ambling along Cerritos Street early Thursday morning, wondering whether today will be your lucky day, looking for open windows or doors, when you see a few nice size boxes sitting on the doorstep of a home…so you pick them up. 

They’re heavy and rattle when you shake them. Seems like this could be valuable stuff – the kind of stuff thieves like you can make money on. It’s been a slow thief day.

You scurry away, packages in hand. Feeling beady eyes on you, you turn – has the homeowner noticed you? But no, it’s a pair of rats sitting on a fencepost, whiskers upturned. If you didn’t know better, you might think they were smiling at you, as if to say, hey, we recognize you, and thanks, buddy! 

Thanks, buddy – we see you’re one of us…

Funny what nerves will do to your mind.

When you get home, you open the boxes to find – 60+ rat traps. Nearly $85 worth of rat traps and their associated equipment, to be exact. A plague on the house you burgled!

It’s not your lucky day after all. And you have a gnawing feeling the cops will be after you soon. 

And we think you’re right about that.


Incident Reports

Tuesday, May 15

Pearl Street | 100 Block | Minor in Possession of Alcohol, Possession of Drug Paraphernalia

11:02 p.m. Emily Gisselle Sanchez, 20, Santa Ana, was arrested for being a minor in possession of alcohol, as well as for being in possession of drug paraphernalia. Bail was set at $500.

Forest Avenue | 500 Block | Giving False Information to a Peace Officer

5:27 p.m. Jose Edgar Jimenez, 32, Long Beach, was arrested for providing false information to a peace officer. Bail was set at $500.

S. Coast Hwy | 100 Block | Providing False ID to a Peace Officer, Battery

4:21 p.m. The RP stated that an individual grabbed their shoulders, and had done it to another passerby as well. Kevin Omar Hernandez Gomez Cisneros, 23, was arrested for providing false identification to a peace officer, as well as for battery. Bail was set at $500.

S. Coast Hwy & Laguna Canyon Hwy | Suspicious Person

4:32 p.m. The RP stated that an individual was touching passerbyers, and trying to talk with them. The subject was not able to be located.

N. Coast Hwy & Irvine Cove Drive | Failure to Register as a Sex Offender, DUI

4:14 p.m. Richard Carl Yakubowski, 57, Huntington Beach, was arrested for failure to register as a felony sex offender (no bail set), and on suspicion of DUI (bail was set at $2,500).

Seacliff Drive | 31700 Block | Warrant

10:05 a.m. Elmir Ohsulyuan, 39, Los Angeles, was arrested on two misdemeanor bench warrants.

Glenneyre Street | 300 Block | Grand Theft

9:55 p.m. The RP stated that after recognizing a theft suspect seen on surveillance camera footage, he began to follow the suspect. Haylee Grant, 33, New Zealand, was arrested for providing false identification to a peace officer, for receiving known stolen property, and for first degree burglary. Bail was set at $20,000.

Via Los Altos | 700 Block | Drunk in Public

7:29 a.m. A 45-year-old man from Laguna Beach was arrested for being drunk in public. Bail was set at $500.

Reef Point Drive & State | DUI

12:a.m. A 21-year-old Brea resident was arrested on suspicion of DUI. Bail was set at $2,500.

Monday, May 14

Laguna Canyon Road | 2500 | Tresspassing

10:07 p.m. Michael Hayes Matekel, 29, Laguna Beach, was arrested for trespassing. Bail was set at $500.

Coast Hwy | 31800 Block | Drunk in Public

2:11 p.m. A 27-year-old resident of Beaumont was arrested for being drunk in public. Bail was set at $500.

S. Coast Hwy & Thalia Street | Traffic Control

12:07 p.m. A group of about 30-40 bicycles were reportedly causing the number two lane on Coast Hwy to be blocked temporarily.

Saint Ann’s Drive | 300 Block | Trespassing

7:09 a.m. Joseph Edward Flamm, 50, Newport Beach, was arrested on a warrant. Bail was set at $1,500.

Broadway Street | 300 Block | DUI

12:01 a.m. A 28-year-old woman from Anaheim was arrested on suspicion of DUI. Bail was set at $2,500.

Sunday, May 13

Alta Laguna Boulevard | 3200 Block | Animal Calls

10:28 a.m. A mountain lion was seen behind the fence at the location.

San Tropez Court | 100 Block |Violation of Probation, Possession of a Controlled Substance

8:27 a.m. Ana Joselin Parada, 22, Laguna Hills, was arrested for being in possession of a controlled substance, and for being in possession of drug paraphernalia (bail was set at $500). Daniel Nunez, 27, Laguna Beach, was arrested for being in possession of a controlled substance and for violation of probation (no bail set).

Laguna Canyon Road | 20600 Block | DUI

2:46 a.m. A 22-year-old from Aliso Viejo, was arrested on suspicion of DUI. Bail was set at $2,500.

Agate Street & Glenneyre Street | DUI

1:57 p.m. A 40-year-old woman from Aliso Viejo was arrested on suspicion of DUI. Bail was set at $2,500.

S. Coast Hwy | 400 Block | Drunk in Public

12:43 A 29-year-old man from Laguna Niguel was arrested for being drunk in public. Bail was set at $500.


Police Files

Shipwrecked in Laguna

The evening of Tuesday the 14th on Main Beach, Laguna residents were met with something unexpected.

Laguna Beach Police, Fire, and Marine Safety, as well as OCSD Harbor Patrol, congregated at the shore following reports of a 26’ boat running aground. 

The two uninjured occupants, a local transient and a man from Laguna Niguel, had arrived on Main Beach after the vessel had suffered from electrical problems.

Click on photo for a larger image

Photo by Valerie Sokola

The sailboat was not in very good shape when it ran aground Tuesday

“Marine Safety personnel called in a vessel assist company to assess the options,” said Sgt. Jim Cota, LBPD spokesperson. “The two subjects did not have enough money to pay for the boat to be extracted and wanted to push it back into the ocean.”

Instead, the boat was deemed a hazard, and Marine Safety took custody and responsibility of it. They monitored the boat overnight and called in Public Works in the morning to pull the boat further up the shore during high tide, twelve hours after the boat ran aground.

Click on photo for a larger image

Photo by Tracy Newton

Heavy equipment was brought in for the removal of the vessel Wednesday morning

The boat was removed Wednesday morning. 

Yoga locker burglar and credit card thief pleads guilty

In February, a man entered a Laguna Beach yoga studio and ransacked the lockers, later using stolen credit cards to pay his bill at a local restaurant.

He left town on a train, and continued his life of crime at stops between San Francisco and San Diego over the next few months.

Douglas Schlichting was arrested in June by the Coronado Police Department, and on Monday, pled guilty to charges of residential burglary and identity theft.

Photo courtesy LBPD

Douglas Schlichting

As a third strike felon, Schlichting faces a mandatory minimum prison sentence of 11 years and 8 months. 

“He also has a probation violation out of San Francisco, where they will choose to sentence him to an additional 8 years consecutive or concurrent,” said Cota.

Schlichting’s sentencing will be on January 9, 2018.

Man bites officer, gets arrested

Wednesday evening, a drunk man on Cleo Street got unruly with officers.

Joshua Szalanczy, 21, Florida, was passed out on the sidewalk when officers arrived to check on him. 

When officers placed him under arrest, he tried to fight with the officers, biting one in the leg in the process.

LBPD Booking Photo

Joshua Szalanczy

In the end, the officers prevailed and Szalanczy was arrested for being drunk in public and felony battery on a police officer. The bitten officer was not seriously injured.


Police Files

Peace, love, positivity…and then the police

Thursday morning, fumes from paint cans permeated the area of Canyon Acres Drive and Laguna Canyon Road.

An open area with cement and rebar remnants near a hiking trail had been spray painted with the letters “PLP,” said to stand for “Peace, Love, and Positivity.”

Timothy Payton, 26, Irvine, was apprehended and admitted to spray painting the rocks, concrete and trees in the area.

“He said he did it to paint over all the negativity,” explained Sgt. Jim Cota, LBPD spokesperson. “He was arrested for vandalism and transported to the Laguna Beach Police Department.”

Assault with a deadly flashlight

On Friday evening, a fight over a cell phone on Main Beach escalated a bit too far for one of the parties involved.

A group of three men was squabbling over who among them was the rightful owner of a Samsung cell phone. Joseph Hogsten, 30, no fixed address, was prepared to go to any means necessary to prove the phone was his.

“Hogsten hit two men in the head with a flashlight,” said Sgt. Jim Cota. One of the victims reported that he was losing consciousness while on the phone with the police department.

Hogsten was arrested for assault with a deadly weapon, with bail set at $25,000.


Incident Reports

Tuesday, May 22

S. Coast Hwy | 500 Block | Citizen Contact

9:40 p.m. According to the RP, a man in his early ‘20s wearing a gray hoodie tried to use a counterfeit bill at the location one hour prior. The RP stated that he had video surveillance of the subject, but no personal information for the man.

S. Coast Hwy | 1600 Block | Possession of Drug Paraphernalia

8:38 p.m. Omar R. Sharifnejad, 39, Henderson, Nevada, was arrested for being in possession of drug paraphernalia. Bail was set at $500.

N. Coast Hwy | 100 Block | Petty Theft

6:54 p.m. The RP stated that juveniles had stolen some chips from the location. 

Magnolia Drive | 300 Block | Fraud

4:54 p.m. According to the RP, someone had opened multiple Verizon accounts using the RP’s information.

Coast Hwy | 30500 Block | Animal Calls

2:24 p.m. A snake was seen in the courtyard of the schoolhouse. The RP stated that it was possibly a rattlesnake.

Laguna Canyon Road | 2400 Block | Warrants

11:59 a.m. An officer was patrolling the area, and saw a woman who was walking in the bike lane step into traffic momentarily. The officer approached the subject, and Sussy Melissa Gomez, 30, Big Bear, was arrested on four misdemeanor warrants for being under the influence of a controlled substance (bail was set at $25,000 for each) and one felony warrant for battery against emergency personnel (bail was set at $50,000), according to LBPD.

Laguna Canyon Road | 20500 Block| Vehicle Burglary

11:27 a.m. The RP stated that a City Ford truck was broken into at an unknown time. The vehicle was parked at an old dump site. The loss was a unit radio.

Skyline | 900 Block | Animal Calls

11:02 a.m. A rattlesnake was seen at the location by the stairs. The snake was not making any noise.

Ocean Way | 1800 Block | Possession of a Controlled Substance

7:55 a.m. Robert Jude Giles, 36, was arrested for being in possession of a controlled substance (bail was set aty $500), as well as on a misdemeanor warrant (bail was set at $1,500). 

S. Coast Hwy | 600 Block | Traffic Collision

4:22 a.m. A traffic collision involving a vehicle and a pedestrian occurred at the location. One of the parties involved suffered a laceration to the head. Traffic was diverted from N. Coast Hwy onto Cleo street starting at 4:35 a.m.

Monday, May 21

S. Coast Hwy | 600 Block| Receiving Stolen Property

11:38 p.m. Deshone Monique Lacey, 27, Inglewood, was arrested for receiving known stolen property: a 2016 Black Chevy. The subject reportedly purchased the vehicle at a car dealership on an unknown date using false documents. Bail was set at $20,000.

S. Coast Hwy | 100 Block | Warrant

11:33 p.m. Luis Enrique Yerba, 56, Laguna Beach, was arrested on a North Court warrant. Bail was set at $2,500.

S. Coast Hwy | 300 Block | Possession of a Controlled Substance

11:21 p.m. Shane Michael Sutton, 39, Laguna Beach, was arrested for being in possession of a controlled substance. Bail was set at $500.

Coast Hwy | 30800 | Fraud

8:32 p.m. Two fake $100 bills were reportedly used at the location.

Coast Hwy | 31800 Coast Hwy | Sexual Perversion

5:44 p.m. The RP stated that someone had touched her buttocks the day prior.

Block Street | 300 Block| Switchblade Knife on Person

12:13 p.m. Jacob Matthew Dove, 21, Lake Forest, was arrested for having a switchblade knife on their person. Bail was set at $500.

S. Coast Hwy & Victorville | Suspended License, False ID, Warrant

1:04 a.m. Ryan Anthony Komer, 30, Long Beach, was arrested for driving without a valid driver’s license (bail was set at $500), for providing false ID to a peace officer (bail was set at $500), and on a misdemeanor warrant (bail was set at $30,000).

N. Coast Hwy | 400 Block | Drunk in Public

12:43 p.m. A 32-year-old man from Englewood was arrested for being drunk in public. Bail was setat $500.

Sunday, May 20

3rd Avenue & Coast Hwy | Warrant

10:04 p.m. Jordan Tyler Hendrickson, 24, Studio City, was arrested on a misdemeanor warrant. Bail was set at $1,500.

Laguna Canyon Road | 2200 Block | DUI

9:13 p.m. Derrick Ramon O’Neil, 31, Moreno Valley, was arrested on suspicion of DUI with one prior. Bail was set at $10,000.

Laguna Canyon Road | 600 Block | Traffic Stop

3:04 a.m. A 21-year-old man from Perris was arrested on suspicion of DUI. Bail was set at $2,500.


Police Files

Thieving duo steals wallets at Ralphs

Multiple shoppers at Ralphs on Monday evening, likely stocking up for Thanksgiving, were met with an unpleasant surprise… their wallets had been stolen. 

“Two suspects, a man and a woman, worked in conjunction with each other to systematically distract women and steal their wallets from their purses in their shopping carts,” explained Sgt. Cota, LBPD spokesperson. 

Two victims came forward, reporting that their wallets had been stolen around 6:20 p.m..

Photos courtesy of LBPD

Surveillance footage shows the two suspects, who would distract customers before taking their wallets

The total reported loss at this point is $102 and credit cards. The suspects were not seen entering any vehicles.

If you recognize the suspects, or have any information, please contact the LBPD at 949-497-0701.

Facebook followers find fraudster

In June, a woman went to Bank of America to cash a check.

Trouble was, that check was stolen, and so was the ID she used.

When officers responded, the woman had left the scene. LBPD detectives had only the surveillance footage provided to them by the bank to solve the crime.

Photos courtesy of LPBD

In an effort to maximize the resources available to them, LBPD sent out crime bulletins to other police agencies, and posted stills from the video on their Facebook page.

Lo and behold, a Facebook follower recognized the woman in the video – a prior resident of Laguna who had moved away a few years ago.

Alexandra Hovas was located and arrested on November 13. She has been charged with check fraud, identity theft, and other fraud and theft related charges.


Police Files

Laguna Beach man sustains critical injuries after crash early Thursday

On Thanksgiving morning at 1:16 a.m., callers reported hearing a crash in the area of Park Avenue and Tahiti Avenue.

“A single vehicle reportedly drove off the hillside and rolled several times,” said Sgt. Cota, LBPD spokesperson. “The driver was ejected from the vehicle at some point.”

A helicopter was called in to extract the driver, a Laguna Beach man in his 20s, from the bottom of the ravine. He was taken to the hospital with critical injuries.


Incident Reports

Saturday, June 2 

S. Coast Hwy | 1400 Block | Drunk in Public

10:28 p.m. A 24-year-old man from Inglewood was arrested for being drunk in public.

S. Coast Hwy | 1400 Block | Miscellaneous

10:09 p.m. A man reportedly jumped on stage at the Boom Boom Room and punched a security officer. According to LBPD, no arrests were made.

Circle Way | 1300 Block | Possession of a Controlled Substance, Drunk in Public

6:09 p.m. A 25-year-old Florida woman was arrested for being in possession of a controlled substance (bail was set at $500), as well as for being drunk in public (bail was set at $500).

Ocean Avenue | 200 Block | Battery

4:35 p.m. A man stated that he was beaten up, and that the assailant attempted to take his money.

Locust Street & Cypress Drive.| DUI

3:06 a.m. A 27-year-old man from Orange was arrested on suspicion of DUI. Bail was set at $2,500.

Laguna Canyon Road | 200 Block | DUI

1:53 a.m. A 45-year-old woman from Mira Loma was arrested on suspicion of DUI. Bail was set at $2,500.

Laguna Canyon Road | 2200 Block | DUI

1:42 a.m. A 22-year-old woman from Irvine was arrested on suspicion of DUI. Bail was set at $2,500.

Forest Avenue | 500 Block | DUI

12:38 a.m. A 28-year-old man from Aliso Viejo was arrested on suspicion of DUI.Bail was set at $2,500.

Thalia Street & S. Coast Hwy | DUI

12:10 a.m. A 45-year-old man from Riverside was arrested on suspicion of DUI. Bail was set at $2,500.

Friday, June 1

Glenneyre Street | 500 Block | Drunk in Public

11:12 p.m. A 31-year-old man from Laguna Beach was arrested for being drunk in public. Bail was set at $500.

N.  Coast Hwy | 1400 Block | Warrant

9:38 a.m. Todd Hartry, 49, Los Angeles, was arrested on a Western Court warrant. Bail was set at $1,000.

Thursday, May 31

Alta Laguna Boulevard |3200 Block | Missing Person

10:16 p.m. A woman was reported missing after going hiking near the location. Police helicopter “Duke” was deployed, and multiple attempts to reach the missing woman’s cell phone were unsuccessful. A Park Ranger stated that the subject might have found their way south of Car Wreck Trail. A nearby Police Bloodhound K-9 unit was called in and was said to have been on way to the location. The woman was reunited with her friends early in the morning at 12:47 a.m. No medics were required to treat the woman.

Glenneyre Street | 300 Block | Petty Theft

7:04 p.m. The RP stated that their license plate had been taken from their 2000 white Nissan Frontier.

Bern Drive | 3000 Block | Citizen Contact

6:09 p.m. The RP reported that while attempting to fix their computer, they were advised that they needed to pay for services over the phone. The request was stated to have been a possible scam.

Bluebird Canyon & Catalina | Traffic Collision

2:50 p.m. A BMW and a KIA SUV were involved in a traffic collision at the location, causing the intersection to be blocked for some time.

N. Coast Hwy | 400 Block | Vandalism

11:37 a.m. The RP stated that green graffiti was seen on the side of the wall at the location.

Laguna Canyon Road | 2900 Block | Traffic Collision

7:26 a.m. A silver Mercedes SUV and a silver Volkswagen Jetta were involved in an accident on the eastbound lanes of Laguna Canyon Road near the location. At 7:56 a.m., both parties were transported by Doctors Ambulance units.

Thursday, May 30

S. Coast Hwy | 1700 Block | Parole Violation

11:53 p.m. Stephen Peter Ellis, 40, Los Angeles, was arrested on a parole violation. No bail was set.

Cleo Street | 100 Block | Warrant

4:19 p.m. Michael Matekel, 29, Laguna Beach, was arrested on a Harbor Court warrant. Bail was set at $1,500. 

Broadway Street | 500 Block | Warrant

3:45 p.m. Ernesto Cantu, 29, Lake Forest, was arrested on a North Court warrant for driving with a suspended license. Bail was set at $10,000.

Balboa Avenue | 600 Block | Vandalism

2:55 p.m. On May 26, the RP stated that they had hired a person to take care of their pets while they were away. When the RP returned, the whole house had been vandalized. Incidents of vandalism described by the RP included water being left running, electronics found broken, and all of the alcohol in the house stolen. The RP was not sure what the estimated loss was.

Broadway Street | 300 Block | Grand Theft

2:26 p.m. Three bikes valued at $8,000 total were reported missing from the front door of the location. The RP stated that the incident had occurred the night prior.

San Tropez Court | 100 Block | Trespassing

5:18 a.m. Brittany Leanna, 33, Newport Beach, was arrested for refusing to leave at an officer’s request. Bail was set at $500.


Police Files

LBPD officer arrested in elder abuse case

On Tuesday, November 28, officers from the Fullerton Police Department arrested three individuals in connection with an ongoing elder abuse and fraud investigation.

One of those individuals was LBPD’s Officer Rock Wagner, a nine-year veteran of the police department. Arrested along with him were his sister, Wendy Wagner, and her boyfriend, Norman McBride. All three were arrested for elder abuse and fraud, and were released from the Fullerton City Jail after posting bail.

While disappointed with the arrest, the LBPD wants to express to the community that no criminal activity is alleged to have occurred within Laguna Beach or while Officer Wagner was on-duty.

“As law enforcement officers, we are held to the highest of standards and in no way is the arrest of Officer Wagner a reflection of the hard-working men and women of this outstanding police organization, said Police Chief Laura Farinella in a statement.

Fullerton PD was informed of the alleged misconduct in June 2017 by the Orange County District Attorney’s Office and Orange County Adult Protective Services.

Little details are currently available, though Fullerton PD officers said that there was more than one alleged victim, related to the suspects, and the allegations relate to the theft of several hundreds of thousands of dollars. The suspects are not accused of any physical abuse. 

Officer Wagner has been placed on paid administrative leave pending the outcome of an internal affairs investigation.


Police Files

LBPD officer arrested in elder abuse case: internal investigation launched

On Tuesday, November 28, officers from the Fullerton Police Department arrested three individuals in connection with an ongoing elder abuse and fraud investigation.

One of those individuals was LBPD’s Officer Rock Wagner, 58, a nine-year veteran of the police department. Arrested along with him were his sister, Wendy Wagner, 55, and her boyfriend, Norman McBride, 58. All three were arrested for elder abuse and fraud, and were released from the Fullerton City Jail after posting bail.

Officer Wagner has been placed on paid administrative leave pending the outcome of an internal affairs investigation.

In an interview with Stu News Laguna, Police Chief Laura Farinella estimated that the internal investigation would take approximately 30-45 days.

“We will not compromise a thorough and accurate investigation for the sake of getting it done earlier than it takes,” she said.

While disappointed with the arrest, the LBPD wants to express to the community that no criminal activity is alleged to have occurred within Laguna Beach or while Officer Wagner was on-duty.

“The arrest of Wagner was definitely unexpected and has sent a disappointing ripple throughout the entire department,” said Farinella. “With that said, this arrest is not a reflection of the hard-working, ethical men and women of the Laguna Beach Police Department, and nothing in this case has ever pointed to his work here as a police officer.”

Fullerton PD was informed of the alleged misconduct in June 2017 by the Orange County District Attorney’s Office and Orange County Adult Protective Services. Chief Farinella was made aware of the investigation a few months ago by Fullerton PD. 

“One of our lieutenants was there at the time of the arrest and [Wagner’s] badge, gun, and ID ware taken. It was at that time he was placed on paid administrative leave and given the appropriate paperwork related to this status,” Farinella said.

Fullerton PD officers said that there was more than one alleged victim, related to the suspects, and the allegations relate to the theft of several hundreds of thousands of dollars. The suspects are not accused of any physical abuse. 

“We have a war on trees [in our town],” says Mayor Iseman after vicious attack kills eucalyptus

In August, an unknown suspect poured gasoline on a eucalyptus tree a block away from Thousand Steps Beach. The fire department responded to absorb the fuel, and a consulting arborist was called in by the city’s Public Works and Code Enforcement departments to evaluate the tree.

“Public Works staff followed the consulting arborists’ recommendations to remove the fuel and periodically visited the site to monitor the situation and evaluate the health of the tree,” said Shohreh Dupuis, director of Public Works, in a letter. At that time, the tree did not appear damaged beyond recovery.

That did not last long. A few weeks later, the foliage turned brown and the canopy began to die. A dozen nails were found in the tree trunk, which were removed immediately. 

“During the follow up inspection, the arborist suggested that the damage caused by the vandalism had systematically affected the tree to a level that was likely to be irreversible,” said Dupuis.

The tree has not recovered and is now dead. The Public Works department is following the City Council’s Public Tree Removal Policy for its removal, as it has become a fire hazard.

Click on photo for a larger image

Photo by Mary Hurlbut

A 50-foot tall eucalyptus tree will be removed after a series of attacks killed it

“We have a war on trees going on [in this town],” said Mayor Toni Iseman. Last November, someone cut gashes into five eucalyptus trees in front of Montage Laguna Beach. And in May of this year, several nails were hammered into a tree in the 1000 block of Cortez.

Unfortunately, LBPD is not actively investigating the recent vandalism that killed the eucalyptus tree because they have no leads on the incident.

“If you can prove that a tree was purposely or maliciously killed by a person, a case can be presented to the DA’s office for filing consideration,” explained Sgt. Jim Cota. “A report was generated and Code Enforcement conducted an investigation. If there had been any solid leads on who committed the crime, a report would have been sent to Investigations for assistance in either an arrest or filing a charge with the DA.”

Red Flag Warning issued for Laguna Beach

The National Weather Service has issued a Red Flag Warning effective through Thurs, Dec 7 at 11:59 p.m. A high wind watch has also been issued where wind speeds between 20-40 mph and gusts of up to 60 mph are possible. Laguna Beach residents should refer to the Ready! Set! Go! Program available on the Fire Department website (www.lagunabeachcity.net/cityhall/fire). 

Register for AlertOC, the city’s mass notification system, by going to AlertOC.com. To ensure you are contacted during a Red Flag Warning, please register with the Nixle Red Flag group by texting “LBRedFlag” to 888-777.

Residents should be aware of parking restrictions in the Diamond/Crestview neighborhood during Red Flag Warnings. Any vehicles parked in spaces marked with a “red flag” in the center may be cited or towed.


Fire Files

Firefighters on full alert as Red Flag Warning is extended: “Elevated sense of awareness urged”

The National Weather Service extended the Red Flag Warning for the Orange County Coastal Zone through Saturday, Dec 9 at 8 p.m. Police and fire personnel urge an elevated sense of awareness during these extreme weather conditions.

Laguna Beach Fire Chief Kirk Summers reported that LBFD had two engines and two Battalion Chiefs assigned to the Thomas Fire in Ventura County on the fire lines Thursday.

“Closer to home, we have staffed up every available engine, including our wildland engine and our reserve engines, and the rescue squad,” Summers continued. “All but four of our firefighters are on duty in anticipation of the extreme fire weather conditions.”

Jordan Villwock, the city’s Emergency Operations Coordinator, reported that CERT volunteers were posted at Alta Laguna Park this week as a visual deterrent and for public outreach. 

“The PD is using Beach Patrol Officers to maintain a fire watch there during the night,” Summers added. 

The Police Department is also enforcing Red Flag parking restrictions in the Diamond and Crestview neighborhoods.

Photo by Mary Hurlbut

Click on photo for a larger image

CERT volunteers on patrol at Alta Laguna Park this week

 “The Great Laguna Coast Fire Safe Council activated their Red Flag Patrol earlier this week, so you might see cars driving around town with red flags,” Villwock said. 

City Council Bob Whalen said that he believed the situation brought attention to the need for undergrounding utility poles along evacuation routes. 

“Over the past few days the wildfires raging throughout Southern California have required over 100,000 to flee their homes in minutes. The speed with which the fires have spread is incredible,” said Whalen said. “Watching people run from their homes underscores for me how crucial it is to all of us in Laguna to underground the utility poles on Laguna Canyon Road and other evacuation routes in the city. This will be the first priority in the city’s undergrounding plan.

“I am confident that voters will understand how crucial this plan is to public safety and will support it at next November’s election,” he concluded.

Click on photo for a larger image

Courtesy LBFD

Laguna Beach Firefighters were involved in firefighting at the Thomas Fire for 48 hours before getting a break on Thursday

Laguna Beach residents should take this time to evaluate their preparedness levels, Villwock said. He asked that residents refer to the Ready! Set! Go! Program available on the Fire Department website (www.lagunabeachcity.net/cityhall/fire). 

Villwock also encouraged residents to register for AlertOC which is the City’s mass notification system by going to www.alertoc.com. Residents should make sure to include cell phone number, text number, and email addresses so that they can be contacted no matter where they are. 

In order to ensure they are contacted during a Red Flag Warning, residents should register with the Nixle Red Flag group by texting “LBRedFlag” to 888-777. 

Despite reports of a “purple flag” warning, Summers explained that there’s no such thing. “There is a fire severity scale that uses colors to indicate fire risk in various areas. The purple indicator is fairly new and has made its debut in this weather event.” 


Laguna Beach Police Department now accepting applications for Citizens Academy, deadline Jan 19

The Laguna Beach Police Department is currently accepting applications for the upcoming Citizens Academy. The academy starts Thurs, Jan 25, 2018, and will meet from 6 p.m. to 9:30 p.m. for 12 consecutive weeks (the 13th week is graduation). 

Applications will be accepted until Jan 19, 2018. 

This is a non-stress course designed to provide community members with a better understanding of the LBPD and to help foster communication between police personnel and citizens. 

Click on photo for larger image

Graduating Class of 2016

The academy course includes instruction in the following areas: History of the LBPD, investigations, traffic enforcement, accident investigation, driving under the influence investigation, gangs, narcotics, neighborhood watch, crime prevention, crime scene investigation, police K-9 program, volunteer programs, and other relevant topics. 

There will also be a tour of the LBPD and the OC Jail. Academy members will be given the opportunity to shoot at the police firing range and participate in mock scenarios. 

Applications are available on www.lagunabeachcity.net or www.lagunabeachcity.net/cityhall/police/cominfo

For questions regarding this program, contact class coordinator Ross Fallah at

This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. or (949) 464-6624.


Police Files

Syringes found near church, preschool

On Sunday, December 3, a bag containing about three dozen syringes and a metal spoon were found in the 300 block of St Ann’s Drive, near Neighborhood Congregational Church and a preschool, Montessori School of Laguna Beach.

“The combination of syringes and a metal spoon usually means heroin use,” explained Sgt. Jim Cota, LBPD spokesperson. They were collected and booked for destruction by officers.

While the police department has located and seized many syringes before, “At church grounds is concerning to the PD,” Cota said. 

“If syringes are located, immediately call LBPD’s non-emergency line [949-497-0701] and have them picked up by officers,” he advised. “They will come as fast as possible, most likely when dispatched.”

Woman arrested for child endangerment while driving DUI

On Friday, December 8, at 9:40 p.m., officers initiated a traffic stop in the area of Thalia and S. Coast Hwy.

The driver, identified as Tatiana Vasilevskaya, 40, Aliso Viejo, was found to be driving under the influence and was subsequently arrested for DUI.

Unfortunately, she wasn’t the only one in the car.

“There were four children inside the vehicle at the time of the vehicle stop, all age 16 and younger,” said Cota. “Aside from being arrested for DUI, an additional charge of child endangerment was added.”

With the added charge of child endangerment, Vasilevskaya’s bail was set at $100,000. 

Fire Files

An update on LBFD on the front lines

Stu News wanted to hear the details about our firefighters on the front line of the Thomas Fire, so we asked Fire Chief Kirk Summers if we could talk to some of the guys – and the answer was no – not because they didn’t want to be interviewed – because, as the Fire Chief explained, with great pride, “They are still up there! They are on the line today after resting yesterday, they are doing 24-hour shifts. I would anticipate that they will be committed to the fire at least through the end of the week and maybe longer. Weather forecasts are predicting continued warm and dry conditions and possibly Sundowners. Many folks up there are expecting to be doing mop-up into January,” he told us.

We are lucky here in Laguna to have such dedicated, hard-working, and courageous firefighters. We’ll be writing the full story of their experiences when they’ve had time to rest – by which time, let’s hope we’ve had some rain.

Click on photo for a larger image

Courtesy of LBFD

Laguna Beach Firefighters will remain at the Thomas Fire, now reported to be burning more than 230,000 acres, through the end of the week


Police Files

Thieves are doing their Christmas shopping in Laguna, it seems – by breaking into cars…

“These thieves are looking for anything visible of value in plain view or vehicles left unlocked,” said LBPD’s Sgt. Jim Cota when asked about a recent string of vehicle burglaries. Whether or not the seven thefts that occurred between Sunday and Tuesday are related is still being investigated.

Sometime late Monday night, two pairs of sunglasses valued at about $1,000 were taken from a vehicle (most likely left unlocked), and $500 worth of Christmas presents were stolen from another unlocked vehicle. One victim noticed items missing from their car on Monday. Two cars on a driveway were searched by a burglar on Sunday, and both were said to have been left unlocked.

One victim’s vehicle was locked on Sunday, but the burglar still managed to steal $500 worth of shoes and clothes. Another strike on Sunday left the victim missing their wallet and $400 in gift cards, and yet another victim’s glove box was riffled through.

“We need to get the message out: remove all personal items of value from your vehicle, and always lock your doors,” Cota said.


Police Files

Pharmacy on wheels: Cops find enormous stash of pills on traffic stop

On Saturday, at around 1 a.m., a driver on Laguna Canyon Road noticed someone driving erratically, weaving and almost hitting the reporting party. Naturally concerned, they called the police. Officers arrived shortly thereafter and began a routine traffic stop. 

They soon realized that they had on their hands a veritable mobile pharmacy. 

“There were so many different pills, it would take half a page to write them,” said Sgt. Jim Cota, LBPD spokesperson. A few of the more popular drugs found upon searching were: marijuana, morphine, oxycodone and methamphetamine. By volume, the most confiscated were 120 Topiramate tablets, 57 Carisoprodol tablets, 40 Hydrocodone tablets, and 30 Suboxone tablets. Despite this impressive array of medications, the driver was not a doctor, and did not have any affiliation with a medical clinic.

The driver, Shauna Kester, 30, Garden Grove, was arrested for two accounts of possession of drug paraphernalia, for being under the influence of a controlled substance, and for possession of a drugs for sale. Bail was set at $20,000. 

This was one of the largest if not the largest pill busts of the year by LBPD, according tos Sgt. Cota.


Police Files

Golf cart driver gets third DUI after fender bender

Last Friday, December 15, a Fullerton resident rear-ended a silver Honda sedan at about 4 p.m. 

When the driver of the Honda approached her about the incident, she offered $20 for the damages, and then fled to a Blue Lagoon condo. The driver called the police after smelling alcohol on the suspect’s breath.

The suspect, Breanne Nicole Budzien, had two prior DUI charges and her license is on probationary status. 

 

Budzien, 25, of Fullerton, was arrested on DUI charges and later released from LBPD with a future court date.


Police Files

Package thief captured before Christmas

With the massive rise in online retailers, many people do all their Christmas shopping from the comfort of their couch. With the click of a few keys, a package can be delivered to your doorstep – unfortunately making many people an easy target for thieves.

One such thief, who stole packages from doorsteps all over Orange County, including Laguna Beach, was arrested by the Garden Grove PD on Tuesday, December 19.

Anthony Palusso

Photo Courtesy of LBPD

Anthony Brian Palusso was located and arrested thanks to the community and the use of home surveillance. He has prior arrests for thefts as well. 

For future package deliveries, LBPD provided the following advice:

-Require a signature for deliveries and bring packages inside immediately.

-Provide specific delivery instructions to keep packages out of view of the general public.

-Give an alternate delivery address, such as your work or somewhere were someone is present, to prevent packages from sitting on the porch for a long period of time.


Police Files

Logan Street gang members arrested during high risk traffic stop on Ramona Boulevard

At 8:39 p.m. on Wednesday, December 27, on the 600 Block of Ramona Boulevard, officers were alerted about a 1998 Lexus 400 that had been reported stolen heading inbound on Laguna Canyon Road. A high risk (felony) traffic stop was conducted. 

Six occupants were found to be inside the vehicle: two adult men, Allen Moreno (23) and Jonathan Duran (20), along with two juvenile boys and two juvenile girls.

All occupants of the vehicle were from Santa Ana, with the four men admitting to being members of the Logan Street Gang. Upon a record check, Moreno, the driver of the vehicle, was found to be on active parole. No bail was issued. 

Duran, who was found to be in possession of six grams of methamphetamine, was released after booking.

The juveniles ranged in age between 13 and 16, and were issued citations for possession of alcohol.

High risk traffic stops, according to policeone.com’s video, demand three fundamental steps: compensate for the risk, control the threats, and conduct a safe traffic stop. Having a plan and training to the plan are paramount when it comes to officers facing situations such as these.


Fire Files

Fire inside Central restaurant leads to evacuations, business closures

On Friday, Dec 29, at around 3 p.m., a structure fire was reported at Central restaurant at 361 Forest Avenue. Laguna Beach and Newport Beach Fire Departments quickly responded and the area was cordoned off, causing severe traffic congestion for hours. 

Click on photo for a larger image

Photo by Ellen Coleman-Germano

According to reports, Friday’s fire originated in the walls of Central’s kitchen

At this time, it is not clear as to the exact cause of the fire, but reports coming in to emergency dispatch mentioned that the flames were in the walls of Central’s kitchen. 

Neighboring businesses in the building, including The Vault and the Hudson Salon & Spa were evacuated, and, according to owner of the Hudson Salon, Katrina Martino, power was out for a few hours. 

Click on photo for a larger image

Photo by Scott Brashier

Firefighters were quickly on the scene

Martino says that the smoke smell took a while to dissipate but thankfully no one was injured, as prompt action by LBFD and NBFD ensured that the fire did not spread.

No closures of businesses due to the fire occurred the next day, except for Central, which will remain closed for a few weeks while repairs take place, according to sources.

Stu News will update this report as more information becomes available.


Police Files

Multiple guns stolen from home on Coronado Drive: fingerprints might provide DNA evidence

At 8:07 p.m. on Saturday, Dec 30, an officer took a burglary report from a resident at the 1200 block of Coronado Drive. Sometime between Dec 25 and 30, an unknown suspect pried open an exterior bedroom door and stole three firearms and an Xbox.

According to the logs, DNA was obtained on the scene.

“This case was just given to the Investigations Division and [is now] an active investigation,” said Sgt. Jim Cota of the LBPD.  “DNA can be someone’s handprint, saliva off a cup, even a fingerprint.”

We wonder how many burglars and would-be burglars realize how far the science of DNA has come in recent years. 

12 pairs of designer glasses snatched from tented house, also on Coronado Drive

Laguna residents, also in the 1200 block of Coronado Drive, left on vacation between Dec 21-23 and had their house tented for termites. When they returned, they noticed that a box of 12 designer prescription glasses had been taken from one of their vehicles inside the garage. The approximate loss is valued at $40,970.

“War on trees” continues

Two eucalyptus trees on a property located in the 31000 block of PCH were cut down sometime on the night of Wednesday, Dec 28.

“The property manager stated that when he returned to the property on Thursday Dec 29, two of the eucalyptus trees on the property had been cut down,” Sgt. Cota stated. “The trees were located on the hillside approximately 50 yards from the house. The estimated value of the trees is $400.”

Detectives are looking into whether a dispute over a view was at the heart of this incident. They will be looking into the matter to see if it is a criminal or civil matter.

Click on photo for a larger image

Photo by Mary Hurlbut

A recent victim of the “war on trees,” this eucalyptus was poisoned and had to be cut down by the City

Don’t let possible buyers take your car for a test drive or this could happen to you

On Wednesday, Dec 27, on the 3200 block of Laguna Canyon Rd., two people took a 1999 Ford for sale on a “test drive” and did not return – they must have liked its performance. It was located out of town in Westminster shortly before 5 p.m.

“People selling their cars need to be cognizant who they are selling the car too and never let someone take the vehicle for a test drive alone,” advises Sgt. Cota. “If you choose to let someone take it, retain their driver’s license and take a photograph of them. A cash deposit would also be a great deterrent as well.” 


Police Files

DUI checks planned for Jan 12 and 18

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 Friday, Jan 12 and Thurs, Jan 18, between the hours of 5 p.m. and 3 a.m. in areas with high frequencies of DUI collisions and/or arrests.

In California, this deadly crime led to 1,155 deaths and nearly 24,000 injuries in 2014 because someone failed to designate a sober driver. 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.

Hand over your keys if you’ve had too much to drink

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.  

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! 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..

Active shooter exercise scheduled for Jan 10, tomorrow, at LCAD: Do not be alarmed by simulated gunfire, sirens

Laguna Beach Police Department has partnered with the Laguna College of Art & Design (LCAD) who will be hosting a full-scale active shooter exercise on Wed, Jan 10, from 9 a.m. until 5 p.m. at their main campus, 2222 Laguna Canyon Road. All activities will occur on LCAD property. 

Click on photo for a larger image

Photo by Mary Hurlbut

LCAD campus will be the epicenter of an active shooter exercise on Jan 10

The purpose of this exercise is to test our interagency capabilities and the mission readiness of our first responders during an active shooter incident. In addition to Laguna Beach police officers and firefighters, the exercise will involve personnel from our surrounding law enforcement and fire department agencies including Irvine, UCI, Newport Beach, and Costa Mesa. 

During the exercise you may hear sirens and simulated gunfire coming from the area of Laguna College of Art & Design, 2222 Laguna Canyon Road. 

Laguna Canyon Road will remain open throughout the event and traffic control officers will be in place to mitigate any traffic congestion. 

The exercise will not be open to the public and only authorized personnel and the media will be allowed to attend. 

This exercise is partially funded through a federal grant received by the Anaheim/Santa Ana Urban Area Security Initiative. 

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

Sandbags available to protect against flooding: tips to keep your property dry during winter storms

With winter storms forecast this week, the City is offering pre-filled sandbags at no cost to residents and business owners of Laguna Beach who may need them to protect their property. These sandbags are not for private contractors or commercial purposes. 

Pre-filled sandbags are available 24 hours a day, seven days a week as of today on a first-come-first-serve basis; (limit 10 per resident). Sandbags can be picked up at either of the two following locations: 

ACT V Parking Lot – 1900 Laguna Canyon Road or 

Aliso Beach Inland Parking Lot – 31118 Coast Highway.

Additionally, the City offers free, unfilled sandbags at the four fire stations.

The unfilled sandbags cannot be filled with sand from Laguna’s beaches or playgrounds. For locations where sand can be purchased go to www.lagunabeachcity.net/cityhall/police/emergprep/sandbags.htm.

Click on photo for a larger image

Submitted photo

Floods can cause serious damage

The City is also doing its part to protect the community by cleaning and inspecting the Laguna Canyon Channel, maintaining public terrace drains and manholes, and conducting outreach including workshops and mailers to property and business owners. 

The City encourages residents to protect their homes from flooding by remembering the following tips: Clear out rain gutters and pick up litter and loose objects on your property. Anything loose can be washed away; check your own yard drains to make sure they are not clogged; while not required, flood insurance is recommended for flood prone properties.

Visit www.lagunabeachcity.net/cityhall/police/emergprep. for further information about Emergency Preparedness and for video footage from past Laguna Beach disasters.

For further information, contact Jordan Villwock, Emergency Operations Coordinator, at 949- 497-0389 or This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..


Police Files

Active shooter exercise proves frighteningly realistic – and effective – involving more than 100 first responders 

This was the scenario developed for the active shooter exercise which took place on Wednesday this week at LCAD: a (fictional) 40-year-old disgruntled male with a fixation on LCAD had been seen on campus a few days prior. He’d posted threats on social media. Now he was endangering the life and safety of students, staff and faculty at the college.

Click on photo for a larger image

Photo courtesy LBPD

First responders with guns drawn

How would the police and fire department defuse this active shooter threat? And what aspects of their response might need more practice or adjusting?

These were the reasons for setting up this exercise, expertly put together by Sgt Eric Lee and Jordan Villwock, Emergency Operations Coordinator, who worked hard to gain funding through a grant of 100K from the Urban Area Working Group.

Makeshift blood, gunfire from blank rounds, sirens and fallen victims (actors) made for a realistic and frightening scene, but first responders kept their cool during three tense morning exercises and three afternoon exercises. 

Click on photo for a larger image

Photo courtesy LBPD

A bloodied victim is attended to during the exercise

 “This [comprehensive] operation was coordinated by the Police Chief over the course of a year,” said LBPD spokesperson Sgt Jim Cota. “It was motivated by the Columbine event.  Each team was evaluated by evaluators and debriefings were held immediately afterwards.”

Representatives of the Laguna Beach Unified School District as well as police agencies from Irvine, UCI, Newport Beach and Costa Mesa, as well as 40 members of the LBPD were present.

Click on photo for a larger image

Photo courtesy LBPD

Policing could be said to be an art form also

City manager John Pietig, the mayor of Laguna Beach and the president of LCAD, Jonathan Burke, either observed or took part – Jonathan Burke playing the role of victim, at his request.

The successful exercise proved another feather in the cap for the LBPD under the leadership of Chief Laura Farinella, who gained tremendous praise in 2017 also for her handling of the America First protest march. She is understandably extremely proud of her officers.

Click on photo for a larger image

Photo courtesy LBPD

The successful exercise was another feather in the cap for the LBPD

For further information, contact Public Information Officer Sgt. Jim Cota at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. ';document.getElementById('cloak988cd22f4be50a2aa1031b66419066ab').innerHTML += ''+addy_text988cd22f4be50a2aa1031b66419066ab+'<\/a>'; or 949-464-6671. 

 

DUI checks planned for today, Jan 12 & Jan 18

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 Friday, Jan 12 & Thurs, Jan 18, between the hours of 5 p.m. and 3 a.m. in areas with high frequencies of DUI collisions and/or arrests.

In California, this deadly crime led to 1,155 deaths and nearly 24,000 injuries in 2014 because someone failed to designate a sober driver. 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.

Hand over your keys if you’ve had too much to drink

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.  

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! 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

Jaw-dropping scam on Glenneyre takes bite out of victim’s bank account

A heavy-set man in his thirties or early forties, wearing navy blue medical scrubs, recently conned a victim on the 1100 block of Glenneyre Street into buying vouchers for three teeth-whitening kits, including the promise of discounts for dental procedures.

“He paid $328.41 on his credit card,” said Sgt Cota, LBPD spokesperson. “When he called and made an appointment with a Laguna Niguel dentist’s office, that’s when he learned that the vouchers were fraudulent.”

Unfortunately, it looks like the victim is just going to have to grin and bear the loss, because the suspect has not been located.


Police Files

High times on Glenneyre end in dispensary bust

Where there’s smoke, there’s fire, the saying goes, or in this case, a marijuana dispensary. Last week, a Laguna resident smelled something, well, highly suspicious while walking along the 900 block of Glenneyre. That person also saw a number of people leaving the building carrying white bags, furtively, one imagines.

Building on 900 block of Glenneyre

Turned out that the so-called “Divine Church of Gardens, Laguna Beach,” a tenant in the building, which also houses Sunset Drug, was indeed a place of worship – but the church part was bogus. The deity in question was not God, but weed in all its many manifestations.

“We arrested a man who claimed to be a volunteer for the church. He told officers that he had only been working there for three days, and that marijuana was used as a sacrament in the church’s rituals,” Sgt. Jim Cota, LBPD spokesperson, told Stu News.

After the officers located approximately 20 plus pounds of marijuana on the premises, along with codeine, and $3,000 in cash, the “volunteer” didn’t have a prayer. Lucas Seth Dichiara, age 31, of Irvine was arrested for possession and sales of marijuana and also for the illegal operation of a marijuana dispensary in Laguna Beach.

The landlord arrived on the scene and was flabbergasted. The Divine Church of Gardens was soon excommunicated from the property. (The name of the lessee of the property was not available at this time.)

Officers confiscated all of the contraband and booked it into evidence at the Laguna Beach Police Department.

“It appears there will be no church services this weekend at that location,” Sgt. Cota added.

 

Early morning reckless driver reported by 12 people

On the morning of Jan 15, Martin Luther King Day, a motorist driving a silver Jeep Liberty up Coast Highway was reported for reckless driving by twelve different callers, with reports ranging from driving on the wrong side of the road, not abiding by the speed limit, not stopping at red lights, and swerving their vehicle.

The first call, which came in at 8 a.m., reported that a woman was driving very fast, while the second reporting party described the driver running red lights. The third reporting party stated that the driver was driving the wrong way on the road in an attempt to pass other motorists near Wesley. 

A fifth reporting party pulled over to avoid the driver and called to say that the driver was in the southbound lane of the road. The sixth reporting party stated that the driver was northbound on Legion at a high rate of speed. After more calls about her heading northbound on Broadway, taking a turn to head southbound on Cliff, the driver was detained.

The woman was arrested for reckless driving.


Police Files

Accused dealer is caught with lots of drugs and baggies, and she’s only 19

On Saturday, Jan 20, Laguna Beach police officers made a vehicle stop at 2:24 p.m. in the 600 block of South Coast Highway. The officers contacted the driver, Alexis Lynn Fukaye, 19, of Fountain Valley, when they noticed a smell of marijuana coming from her car, a black Toyota Scion.

Upon searching the vehicle, over 13 ounces of packaged marijuana (374.87 grams), 201 Xanax bars, 16 Lorazepam pills, marijuana paraphernalia, and other individual prescription pills were confiscated. According to LBPD’s Sgt Jim Cota, Fukaye claimed that she worked for a marijuana dispensary, “but could not provide details about her employer”. About $715 was confiscated from the vehicle as well.

When asked to clarify California’s marijuana laws, Sgt Cota explained: “Possession of marijuana at your house and on your person is legal as long as its under the specified amount. Possession of marijuana for sales is not legal.” Cota further explained that in this case, the presence of “around 100 Ziploc baggies” in the car was one of the key factors in determining that Fukaya intended to sell the drugs.

Fukaye was arrested for possession of marijuana for sales, and for possession of a designated substance (Xanax) for sales. Her bail was set at $25,000.


Police Files

High risk traffic stop leads to million dollar bail, discovery of missing youth

On Saturday, Jan 20 at 2:28 a.m., a white 2018 Toyota Camry reported stolen from Lake Forest was seen heading southbound on Laguna Canyon, about to turn northbound onto Pacific Coast Hwy. LBPD officers pulled the car over on Aster, initiating a high risk traffic stop. 

One by one, starting with the driver, each of the four occupants was ordered out of the vehicle, and then detained. 

As is customary with high risk stops of this kind, officers called for K9 support, but none was available. Fortunately arrests were able to be made without incident.

“The occupants of the car were not aggressive,” said Sgt Cota, LBPD spokesperson.

The driver, Luis Fernando Reynasoto, 18, of Lake Forest, was arrested for possesion of a stolen vehicle, as well as for probation violation, and held without bail. One passenger, Noah Dillon Guerrero, 18, Lake Forest, was arrested on a warrant out of Riverside Court for battery and bail of $1,000,000, as well as for stolen vehicle and for DUI, bail $15,000. 

One juvenile passenger was found to be in possession of 27 Xanax bars. The juvenile had been reported missing. The juvenile was cited and released to a parent. A fourth juvenile passenger was also released. 

 

LBPD releases statement on scam that threatens your life if you don’t pay up: ignore those emails!

In this day and age, [people] have to be aware of the various scams going around. [The LBPD] was recently alerted to a new scam going around involving the use of cryptocurrency. 

Would-be victims are receiving emails from a person claiming to be a hit man (or woman), who tells them they have an order to kill them. In order to save themselves from their impending doom, victims are directed to deposit funds via Bitcoin into an account in order to find out information about who [issued that order]. 

The hitman [offers supposed] learning resources by directing victims to Google information regarding Bitcoins.

Here at the Laguna Beach Police Department, we want you to be aware so as to keep you and your bank accounts safe from hitmen [and con-men].

From the LBPD Facebook page


Interim Fire Chief Kirk Summers reaches the end of his term and the search is on for a new fire chief

Stu News contacted Fire Chief Kirk Summers this morning to ask about a recent vegetation fire – and Chief Summers, responsive as always, let us know the details – but also reminded us that his term is coming to an end in two weeks. Chief Summers, we hardly knew ye! 

The time has gone by so quickly since he was appointed, and we’ve not had any major fires, fortunately, though Chief Summers has presided over a department that has done sterling duty in helping battle the Thomas Fire and other California blazes.

Click on photo for a larger image

Photo by Mary Hurlbut

A great fire engine photo because, why not?

Here’s the deal about the fire last week in Laguna, for starters, at the 2300 block of Hillview Drive. (Arson is not suspected.)

“It was a small fire that had lots of potential,” Chief Summers told us. “Our guys jumped on it hard and kept it small. Captain Maxon and the first arriving crew of Engine 3 did a great job knocking down the fire.  The cause of the fire is undetermined at this point.

“It was nice to get some rain a couple of weeks ago but with the warm, dry weather we have been experiencing, we are right back in to fire season (still beats Chicago!),” Summers added. “Our residents need to use the same degree of caution that they would in August or September. Even in the absence of a severe wind, a slope driven fire in one of our canyons could cause great damage.  Our residents need to keep fire safety in mind all year round and keep native vegetation cut back and ornamental vegetation trimmed and well-watered.”

We hear you, Chief. But what’s up with you, we asked? And who will succeed you?

Click on photo for a larger image

Photo by Lynette Brasfield

Interim Fire Chief Kirk Summers

“All is good here. I am wrapping up my last couple of weeks here at LBFD. I am teaching an Incident Command class next week at the County EOC and then the week of the 12-15, that will be it! Then back to retirement for a while…I keep saying that.”

Stu News called City Manager John Pietig to find out how the search for a new fire chief is going. He tells us that since Feb 15 is Chief Summers’ last day, plans are already in place for Division Chief Tom Christopher to serve as interim chief until an appointment is made. Christopher will handle the day-to-day fire chief responsibilities until a permanent fire chief comes on board.

“We are still reviewing the final candidates and it’s going to be a month or so before we are able to make an announcement,” Pietig said.

We wish Chief Summers all the best for his retirement, though we suspect this will be another short retirement for this dedicated firefighter.

--Lynette Brasfield


Police Files

Scam alert: Letter claims to know about “secrets you are keeping from your wife”

A reader sent us a copy of a letter he received from a scam artist and would-be blackmailer, delivered via snail mail. The reader knew he had no reason to be concerned but was shocked, naturally, that this scam was in play. He dropped the letter off at the police station.

Stu News asked police to comment but at press time had not heard back. Common sense suggests that residents ignore these demands and advise police should they hear from “BadBird-93.”

Here are excerpts from the letter:

“My name is BadBird-93 and I know about the secret you are keeping from your wife and everyone else. More importantly, I have evidence of what you have been hiding. I won’t go into the specifics here in case your wife intercepts this, but you know what I am talking about. “

“You don’t know me personally and nobody hired me to look into you. Nor did I go out looking to burn you. It is just your bad luck that I stumbled across your misadventures while working a job around Laguna Beach. I then put more time than I probably should have. Frankly, I am ready to forget all about you and [redacted] and let you get on with your life. So I am going to give you two options that will accomplish that very thing. These two options are to either ignore this letter, or to simply pay me $8,150.

Let’s examine those two options in more detail. 

Threats

Option 1 is to ignore this letter. Let me tell you what will happen if you choose this path. I will take this evidence and send it to everyone in your life, especially [redacted] And as insurance against you intercepting it before she gets it, I will also send copies to her friends, family, associates, and all your neighbors on and around [where you live/redacted]. So even if you decide to come clean to your wife, it won’t protect her from the humiliation she will feel when everyone she knows finds out your sordid details from me. 

Option 2 is to pay me $8,150. We’ll call this my “confidentiality fee.” Now let me tell you what happens if you choose this path. Your secret remains your secret. You go on with your life as though none of this ever happened. Though you may want to do a better job at keep your misdeeds secret in the future. 

“Letter cannot be traced to me”

At this point you may be thinking, “I’ll just go to the cops.” Which is why I have taken steps to ensure this letter cannot be traced back to me. So that won’t help, and it won’t stop the evidence from ruining your life. I’m not looking to break your bank. I just want to be compensated for the time I put into investigating you. 

“Confidentiality fee”

Let’s assume you have decided to make all this go away and pay me the confidentiality fee. In keeping with my strategy to not go to jail, we will not meet in person and there will be no physical exchange of chas. You will pay me anonymously using bitcoin. If you want me to keep your secret, then send $8,150 in BITCOIN to the Receiving Bitcoin Address listed below. Payment MUST be received within 9 days of the postmark date on this letters envelope. If you are not familiar with bitcoin, attached is a “How-To” guide. You will need the below two pieces of information when referencing the guide.”

The letter then goes on to explain exactly how to pay the scammer via Bitcoin.

Don’t be taken in. We’ll update this story when we hear from the LBPD.

 

Bookkeeper charged with defrauding Laguna Beach business owner of over $265,000

On January 22, 2016, Laguna Beach Police Detectives began a grand theft investigation against Nhora Johanna Tellez, a resident of Costa Mesa. The investigation began when a Laguna Beach business owner identified his bookkeeper/office manager, Tellez, as the person who defrauded him of over $80,000 from his marketing business, Laguna Coast Corporation.

Tellez was the bookkeeper and office manager at the victim’s business and had access to the victim’s financial information. It was discovered that Tellez had accessed and changed the login information for all of the victim’s investments and credit card accounts. Tellez created passwords for each online account and notifications of access or fraud to these accounts was rerouted to an email address held by Tellez.

This lengthy investigation revealed that Tellez devised and executed a scheme to defraud and obtain money from Laguna Coast Corporation by gaining the trust of the owner, who allowed her to gain control over the financial accounts. Documents and business records obtained in this investigation were forwarded to the Orange County District Attorney Major Fraud Unit, which, upon further review, determined that Tellez had embezzled approximately $265,390.67. Tellez used the money embezzled from the victim for a variety of personal expenses including veterinarian visits, entertainment expenses, living expenses, and vacations that involved the purchase of airline tickets. Cash advances were also conducted at various ATM’s throughout Orange County. Images of the ATM cash advances were obtained, and Tellez was positively identified as being the individual who completed the fraudulent transactions. To date, none of the embezzled funds have been returned by Tellez to the victim.

On January 24, 2018, Laguna Beach Police Department Detectives arrested Nhora Johanna Tellez in the City of Costa Mesa for California Penal Code 487-Grand Theft.

“This lengthy and time-consuming investigation serves as a reminder that our police department will pursue any individual(s) in positions of trust who take advantage of businesses and innocent victims. We brought in every available resource, including our partners from the Orange County District Attorney’s Office, to ensure that this case would be appropriately investigated, prosecuted, and justice would be served,” said Captain Jeff Calvert, LBPD.


Police Files

Graffiti on the rise in Laguna? LBPD says no, but it happens, and if you see it, report it

Walls, trees, you name it, are susceptible to graffiti. Even plants, sometimes. We’ve all seen writing on some of the succulents in Heisler Park.

According to LBPD’s Sgt Jim Cota, these markings are not on the rise in Laguna Beach, despite recent reports, for example of the graffiti at Victoria Beach. 

Click on photo for a larger image

Courtesy of Aurora Clabaugh

Recent graffiti at Victoria Beach

However, they want to be sure, as we all do, to keep our town as free of graffiti as possible.

The LBPD suggests that anyone who happens to observe someone in the act of applying graffiti should call the police immediately, but not make any sort of contact with the suspects.

If suspects are caught, they face a misdemeanor vandalism charge (if the damage is under $400). 

If graffiti is seen after the fact, police will ask the reporting party to explain as much information as they can about the case.

Either way, the community is urged to be vigilant to prevent our beautiful beaches and buildings from being vandalized.


Officer-involved shooting rattles community: Woman had gun in hand upon emerging from vehicle

At 2:41 p.m. on Sunday, Feb 11, the Laguna Beach Police Department received a call about an apparently distressed woman in a blue gray Lexus SUV driving erratically.

“More than one call came in. At least one (or more) caller(s) indicated that this person appeared to have a handgun visible in her possession,” said LBPD spokesperson Sgt Jim Cota.

While officers were responding, another caller reported speaking to a woman who had a gun in the area of St. Ann’s and Gaviota. The woman with the firearm had asked the bystander to call the police because she wanted to take her own life.

Click on photo for a larger image

Photo by Scott Brashier

Police gather at the crime scene

Officers arrived in the 100 block of St. Ann’s and made contact with the distressed woman, later found to be a 36-year-old Huntington Beach resident. She was parked at the far end of the cul de sac on Saint Ann’s facing the beach, alone in her car.

“She was initially uncooperative with the officers,” said Sgt Cota. “One officer approached her on foot. The other officer pulled up behind her vehicle and exited on foot. Then the woman emerged from the car with a gun in her hand. The officer on foot discharged his weapon. The woman was struck in the upper torso.”

Officers immediately rendered aid and called paramedics, who also worked on her. She was transported to Mission Hospital – Mission Viejo, where she underwent surgery.

As of last night, she remained in critical condition. 

No officers were injured during the incident. 

Click on photo for a larger image

Courtesy of Kim Pearson

A bullet penetrated a window at the Laguna Riviera: The room was unoccupied

It appears that at least one bullet went through the window of an unoccupied room at the Laguna Riviera hotel during the incident, as seen in this photo provided by hotel owner Kim Pearson. LBPD is not commenting on the number of bullets fired.

Sgt Cota tells us that the Laguna Beach Police Department will conduct an investigation and review of this incident through a multi-step process that evaluates the legal, policy, and tactical considerations surrounding the event. 

The Orange County District Attorney’s Office responded as standard protocol and will conduct a parallel and independent investigation.

--Lynette Brasfield


Police Files

Man urinates on street, refuses to cooperate with police: Forgets he has a large firecracker in his pants

On Saturday, Feb 10 at 12:52 p.m., on the 1100 block of S Coast Hwy, Randy R Sison, 41, of Mission Viejo, was cited for urinating in public – normally a relatively minor infraction – but he refused to sign the necessary citation. 

“If you don’t sign a citation, you automatically get arrested and go to jail,” LBPD spokesperson Sgt Jim Cota told Stu News.

That’s when things got interesting.

After Sison was taken into custody and prior to entering the jail, officers asked him if he had any contraband on him, otherwise he would be charged with an additional crime.

“Upon booking him, officers found a large firecracker in his possession,” Sgt Cota said.

The firecracker was an M-250, with a fuse three inches long, measuring three quarters of an inch in diameter – that is to say, a large firecracker.

And the large firecracker was in his right front pant pocket.

“I forgot I had it on me,” Sison said, according to LBPD.

Sison was charged with “possession of a dangerous [and illegal] firework or explosive,” in jail with him.

He was transported to Orange County Jail and faces a felony charge.


Police Files

Update on officer-involved shooting: audio and video recorded the interchange between cops and distressed woman

The 36-year-old Huntington Beach woman who was shot by police on Sunday after emerging from her vehicle with a gun in her hand, has been medically upgraded from critical to stable condition, said LBPD spokesperson Sgt Jim Cota on Wednesday. 

“LBPD will seek charges against the female suspect,” said Sgt Cota.

An investigation is currently underway by both LBPD and the Orange County District Attorney’s Office to determine the exact circumstances surrounding the incident. Video and audio recordings from patrol vehicles and residences are being reviewed, which will shed light on the interchange between cops and the distressed woman, who is reported to have threatened to take her own life, as well as the number of bullets fired.

 “Officers verbally attempted several times to let them help her with her ongoing issues,” said Sgt Cota. “(They) were very patient and attempted to help her.”

Stu News will continue to follow and report on this story in the coming weeks.

 

Three suspects arrested and charged in connection with assault at The Saloon

On August 11, 2017, at 1:30 a.m., Laguna Beach Police Officers responded to a fight in progress in the 400 block of South Coast Highway. Officers contacted two separate victims of an assault and began an investigation into who committed these acts of violence. 

At the conclusion of the initial investigation, it was determined that three male subjects assaulted two male Laguna Beach bar patrons and a Good Samaritan female who tried to intervene. Both male victim sustained injuries, including broken bones and lacerations. The female victim sustained minor injuries.

Laguna Beach Police Detectives began a lengthy investigation in the search for the individuals responsible for the assault. Over a dozen interviews were conducted during the investigation and hours of video reviewed. At the conclusion of the investigation, three male suspects were ultimately arrested for Assault with a Deadly Weapon and Battery with Serious Bodily Injury.

The three males were identified as City of Ontario resident Jeremy Bishop (pictured here), Daniel Little (not pictured), and Joshua Little (not pictured). Both Daniel and Joshua Little reside in Prescott Valley, Arizona.

“This lengthy and time-consuming investigation serves as a reminder that our police department will pursue any individual(s) who commit acts of violence in Laguna Beach. Our Investigations team did an outstanding job identifying, locating, and arresting these three suspects,” said LBPD Captain Jeff Calvert.

--From a press release

 

Laguna Beach enjoys an overall reduction in crime for 2017, although burglary is up 10 percent

The Laguna Beach Police Department is happy to report a reduction in crime for 2017. The Police Department tracks crime and a number of other statistics on a yearly basis in an overall effort to evaluate their effectiveness as well as identify areas of community outreach and enforcement.

While larcenies have dropped significantly, there has been an increase in residential burglaries. These burglaries are attributed to unlocked doors and open garage doors. “This is a reminder that we can prevent a majority of property crime by taking the time to properly secure our homes,” said Chief Farinella. The decrease in larcenies are directly related to the increased staffing of Beach Patrol Officers which were funded through Measure LL and the Strategic Plan. These once part-time positions are now full-time, providing a much-needed added layer of presence on the beach, which is where we saw the decrease in the crimes.

Other highlights:

No fatal traffic collisions: Second year in a row

Traffic collisions are down 12%

Total calls for service are up 4%, equaling 1,919 additional calls

Citations are up almost 100%, which is attributed to the additional Beach Patrol Officers enforcing local municipal codes such as no alcohol and glass on the beach.

CERT is now over 300 members strong, CERT Academy graduated Class #9

Citizen Academy participates are now over 400 strong with the graduation of Class#24

The below are Laguna Beach statistics for 2017 Part I Violent Crimes, as compared to previous years. 

Tables courtesy of LBPD

The below are Laguna Beach statistics for 2017 Part I Property Crimes, as compared to previous years. 

Every police department is mandated to report Uniform Crime Reporting (UCR) statistics to the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) on a yearly basis, so that increases and decreases in crime can be tracked and evaluated on a national level. The reporting of crime is separated into two classifications, Part I and Part II. Comparing these statistics year-to-year can tell a story both locally and nationally, and help police agencies strategically focus their resources. Part I crimes are the only crimes that are mandated to report. Reporting of Part II crimes is not mandated, and include crimes such as forgery, vandalism, and drug abuse violations. The Laguna Beach Police Department does track these crimes in an effort to identify trends.

--From a press release


Police Files

“Armed and dangerous” felons arrested after midnight in North Laguna, after “blacking out” their car and fleeing on foot

At 12:42 a.m. on Thursday morning, Feb 22, Laguna Beach Police Dispatchers received a license plate alert about an armed and dangerous felony vehicle, a 2017 Chevy Equinox, travelling inbound on Laguna Canyon Road. 

Nighttime patrol officers were alerted and the vehicle was located on the 600 Block of Laguna Canyon Road. 

According to LBPD spokesperson Sgt Jim Cota, the Chevy then turned onto 100 Cliff Drive, where it “blacked out” – in other words, the driver turned off the headlights in an attempt to evade detection.

But the fleeing felons fortunately were detected.

“The vehicle was abandoned at the intersection of Rosa Bonheur and Cypress Drive and the felons fled on foot,” Sgt Cota said. ”Two men were eventually located. Clifton Young Jr (34) was found on Cedar Way. He was in possession of a stun gun. Rylan Robinson (24) was located on Cliff Drive while trying to enter an Uber.”

“Both men are from Long Beach and have criminal records. LAPD was contacted and responded to take custody of the men.”

Several masks, beanies, and hoodies were found inside the vehicle, which was impounded and placed on an evidence hold for LAPD.

 

London man is TASERED in the buttocks after hitting Hennessey’s staff

On Sunday, Feb 18 at 9:27 p.m., officers responded to Hennessey’s (213 Ocean Ave) after a report about a combative man, later identified as Luke Ewers, 34, from London, who was refusing to leave the premises.

“When officers arrived, Ewers was physically fighting the manager and security staff of Hennessey’s,” LBPD spokesperson Jim Cota said. 

“An officer deployed his TASER in an attempt to control Ewers’ violent actions. The probes connected with Ewers’ lower back and buttocks area and effectively stopped the attack. Ewers was taken into custody for disturbing the peace and being drunk in public.”

Ewers was transported to Mission Hospital Laguna Beach, where the TASER probes were removed by the medical staff.

The men he attacked with punches and elbows are doing fine. In fact, they’re sitting pretty, which is probably more than can be said for Ewers, who was transported to LBPD jail after Mission Hospital.

 

Head-on collision at Solana and S Coast Hwy results in cut-and-rescue: Driver suspected of DUI

On Wednesday, a head-on traffic collision occurred at Solana and S Coast Highway resulted in a cut and rescue operation. 

Preliminary reports from LBPD’s Sgt Jim Cota indicate that one vehicle was headed southbound in the #1 lane and collided with another vehicle that was headed northbound in the #1 lane. 

Click on photo for a larger image

Photo by Ryan Keller

Head on traffic collision believed to be caused by DUI

The person believed to be at fault is a 53-year-old man from Riverside, suspected of being under the influence of alcohol.

A 2000 White Chevy Blazer and a 2004 Black Volvo S60 were involved. Both vehicles sustained major damage. 

The driver who was not at fault, a Dana Point resident, is still in the hospital with internal injuries. 

The investigation is ongoing.


Police Files

Local homeless man is arrested more than 30 times in three years

At 6:43 p.m. on Saturday, Feb 24, officers responded to 2442 S Coast Highway following a report of a possible burglary in progress. 

“The property manager reported that a man was seen on the surveillance system entering a vacant but furnished apartment building...which is set to rent for $5,000 per month,” said LBPD Spokesperson Sgt Jim Cota.

“Officers arrived and established a perimeter around the property. After speaking with the property manager, officers checked the building and found an unlocked door to apartment #2. LBPD K-9 Ranger led the search, which resulted in the discovery of a subject hiding in a bathroom.”

The suspect, Reese Westenberger, 53, a local homeless man who has been arrested “in excess of 30 times since 2015” according to LBPD, had broken into the furnished rental home and admitted to the police that he had been living there for one week. 

According to LBPD, there were no drugs or alcohol found on the scene.

Westenberger was taken into custody and later transported to OCJ. His bail was set at $50,000.

 

Scammer pretends to be a high-level City employee with thousands in grant money to give to businesses

Last week, Ruben Flores, owner of Laguna Nursery, was thrilled to hear that he might be eligible for thousands of dollars in grant money from the City. But only for a moment. 

“On one hand, as a small business, you’re like ‘thank goodness, we need this. And then as a rational person you say, this doesn’t sound right,’” Flores says.

Flores’s instincts were spot on. He explains what happened. 

“Through Facebook messenger, [the scam artists] messaged me from a high-level City employee’s Facebook page, representing to be that person. They said they could help get me a federal grant.”

“They kept texting back and texting back, and they were fairly persistent in telling me how we could get up to $200,000 and that we needed to fill out this form with different personal information.”

Sgt Cota says, “This is a one-hundred-percent scam. The scammers ask for money upfront, in this case $1,000, in order to get the transaction to move forward for payment.”

Ruben told Stu News that the scammer, using the City employee’s Facebook account, told him to message a person by the name of Russell Miller to get the details about the supposed grant.

“Then he said, if you give me $1,000 within the next 30 minutes, I can get you $40,000. That’s when I knew for sure it was sketchy.”

Flores reported the incident to the LBPD, who are now investigating. The “Russell Miller” Facebook page has since been taken down.

 

Heroin bust on Canyon Road after early-morning search of Mercedes – and then an unexpected find 

Sunday morning at 12:41 a.m., officers at the intersection of El Toro Road and the southbound off-ramp of the SR-73 observed a grey Mercedes stopped beyond the limit line (approximately three feet), a violation of California Vehicle Code 21453(a). 

Officers pulled behind the vehicle and noticed the car’s registration tabs were also expired.

Inside the vehicle, officers found twelve individually packaged baggies of heroin. 

“The driver of the Mercedes, Matthew Erik Logan, 45, and passenger Gloria Renee Reid, 49, both of Fountain Valley, were charged with three drug related charges and possession of counterfeit money,” said LBPD spokesperson Sgt Cota.

Logan had $1,300 in his possession, $1,100 in counterfeit bills. 

A search by a woman jailer revealed four unused hypodermic needles and a Skittles bag of heroin in and around Gloria Renee Reid’s genital area.


Police Files

“Well-dressed bandits” are now wearing stripes: LBPD detectives arrest second suspect in last summer’s five-business burglary

Laguna Beach detectives have connected the final piece of the puzzle in last summer’s jewelry heist at The Shops at The Cliffs, which resulted in the loss of over $200,000 in merchandise for five Laguna Beach businesses. 

On Wednesday, LBPD Detectives traveled to Oceanside and arrested 26-year-old Alexander Kenneth Joe Aguirre, after arresting 30-year-old Edward Torrison, also in Oceanside, in September 2017. Detectives from LBPD believed early on that the burglaries were related to a series of thefts that occurred in South Orange County. 

Submitted photo

Thanks to LBPD detectives’ thorough and awesome efforts, these “well-dressed bandits” have both been arrested: on the left, Alexander Kenneth Joe Aguirre; on the right, Edward Torrison

Early on in the investigation, detectives identified one of the suspects, Edward Torrison, 30, a resident of Oceanside. On September 26, 2017, detectives from LBPD went to Oceanside and after a short foot pursuit (which also resulted in the suspect severely injuring a gecko), Torrison was placed under arrest. Torrison was subsequently convicted and sentenced. He is currently in prison, serving a 32-month sentence.

Detectives continued the investigation in search for the second suspect, later identified as 26-year-old Alexander Kenneth Joe Aguirre.

On February 28, LBPD detectives arrested Aguirre in the city of Oceanside on two counts of burglary and one count of conspiracy to commit burglary.

Detectives located stolen jewelry hidden inside of a bedroom belonging to Aguirre. All of the found jewelry was confiscated and held for evidence. Aguirre was booked and later transported to Orange County Jail.

“Laguna Beach Police detectives had an unwavering determination to apprehend both offenders and their hard work resulted in another arrest of someone who tried to victimize our business community,” said Captain Jeff Calvert, LBPD.

 

Have Coffee with a Cop…and lifeguards…and firefighters…and emergency personnel…on March 10

The community is invited to join neighbors, officers and emergency personnel for coffee and donuts on Sat, March 10 from 8 a.m. – 11 a.m. at Mission Hospital Laguna Beach (31872 Coast Hwy). 

Click on photo for a larger image

Photo by Mary Hurlbut

Firefighters, police and emergency personnel want to talk to YOU

Personnel from Mission Hospital, Laguna Beach Police Department, Laguna Beach Fire Department, Laguna Beach Lifeguards, OC Parks, OC Lifeguards and Doctors Ambulance will be present. There will be a vehicle display and photo opportunities. 

The purpose of this event is to open lines of communication and build relationships with citizens. There are no agendas or speeches, just a chance for citizens to ask questions, voice concerns, and get to know the emergency personnel in their community. 

The police officers, lifeguards, firefighters and paramedics hope for a great turnout so that they can meet plenty of members of the community.


Police Files

UPS store gets unexpected delivery – and it could have been tragic

On Saturday morning at approximately 8:30 a.m. a Porsche crashed through the UPS Store on Coast Highway. Early reports suggest that the driver was cut off, resulting in this accident.

While LBPD has yet to release details, it is clear that if this had happened just a few hours later, someone – or several people – could have been killed or severely injured at this popular location.

Click on photo for a larger image

Photo by Lorraine Hornby

Porsche crashes into UPS store

Terri Meisberger, who owns the UPS Store with her husband Mark, told Stu News:

“We’re just so grateful that the store was closed [at the time of the accident] and that nobody was injured. That’s all we could really ask for. It could have been so much worse. It’s a little inconvenience, but everyone is ok. We’re ok.”

“The copier that’s in the front went flying into the back mail boxes and is demolished. We had to get [the site] boarded up that day, right away, because it was completely open. It’s temporary. We’re hoping to get a banner made that says we’re still open.”

Click on photo for a larger image

Photo by Marshall Aren

This car was also involved in the accident

“We can rebuild, the store can be repaired. We appreciate everyone’s understanding during our “remodel.”

Stu News is following up with LBPD and will provide more details about the accident as they become available. 

 

Food delivery man caught on video stealing resident's Nikes

On Friday, March 2, a Laguna Beach resident living on Cliff Drive had his Nike sneakers stolen – he had left them outside his front porch, most likely to dry out because of the rain, and because that’s what you do when you live in a small town like ours.

But sadly, even if you live in a small town, you’re not immune from thieves. 

Someone took his Nikes…

Click on photo for a larger image

Submitted photo

Now you see them, now you don’t

Fortunately for the resident, he had a doorbell camera set up, and caught the thief red-handed on video stealing his shoes.

The sneaky suspected sneaker thief, as seen here, was delivering take-out food to the victim’s next-door neighbor when he brazenly snatched the victim’s shoes on his way out.

“I can confirm that this happened and that detectives will follow up and see where it leads us,” said LBPD spokesperson Sgt Jim Cota.


Police Files

Laguna Beach Police Officer Rock Wagner is exonerated of any wrongdoing

On November 28, 2017 Laguna Beach Police Officer Rock Wagner was arrested by the Fullerton Police Department in connection with an elder abuse and fraud investigation. Since that time, Officer Wagner was placed on paid administrative leave while both the criminal and internal investigations took place.

Both of these investigations have concluded and after thorough review of the evidence produced, it has been determined that allegations of misconduct could not be supported. It has also been determined by the Orange County District Attorney’s Office that evidence of a crime did not exist.

“I am happy to report that Officer Rock Wagner will return to full duty and is a valued member of the Laguna Beach Police Department,” stated LBPD Chief Laura Farinella.

--From a press release 

 

Door to door solicitor who tried to get money from residents arrested on metal knuckles warrant

On Friday afternoon, March 9, a Laguna Beach resident called LBPD to report a group of men that were going door to door soliciting people in the Skyline/Mystic Hills area. According to the resident, the men were riding in an “older white panel van with no windows” with a female driver, when one of them – described as “well dressed with a gold chain” – got out and came to his door to ask him for money on behalf of what the man said was a non-profit called Excellent Sales. 

LBPD approached and stopped the man in question on Pitcairn Place. According to LBPD Spokesperson Sgt Jim Cota, he possessed a notebook with “customer names”, including multiple Laguna Beach residents with their addresses identified.

The man, identified from his Missouri identification card as Jearl Perry, 34, was stopped as a result of the city’s municipal code section on door to door solicitation, which makes such behavior illegal. 

“It is against the law to solicit door to door in Laguna Beach,” said Sgt Cota.

Perry had an outstanding Orange County warrant (possession of brass knuckles) out for his arrest and was taken into custody.


Police Files

Not so fast, reckless driving leads to drugs and stolen gun charges

On Monday, March 12, an LBPD officer saw a group of about 10 vehicles driving recklessly on South Coast Highway at Legion Street at 12:47 a.m. An Aston Martin Vantage left the pack, as it turned west onto the 100 Block of Cleo Street. After noticing the vehicle didn’t have front or rear license plates, a traffic stop was initiated.

Aaron Joseph Vasquez, 29, Irvine, was identified as the driver. Vasquez consented to be searched. A small amount of cocaine and approximately $650 cash was found in his pants pocket. Vasquez was placed under arrest for cocaine possession.

The officer then saw a backpack in plain view on the passenger floorboard. Vasquez initially admitted the backpack belonged to him. The arrest search found a scale, approximately $1,600 in cash, a stolen .25 caliber handgun, and a large amount of cocaine in the backpack. Vasquez then denied ownership of the backpack after the illegal items were discovered.

The passenger was identified as Alex J Klein, 29, of Anaheim. Klein, who refused to cooperate with the investigation, had about $2,600 in cash on him.

Because the backpack was near both Vasquez and Klein, they were both taken into custody for possession of cocaine for sales, possession of a controlled substance while armed, and carrying a loaded stolen firearm.

An on-duty Newport Beach Police department canine unit responded and conducted a sniff of the vehicle. The canine alerted to the trunk area, where three large bags of marijuana were found (approximately two pounds) and cash. As a result, Vasquez and Klein both received an added possession of marijuana for sales charge. Additional charges are pending.

Vasquez, who stated he is unemployed, and Klein, who stated he is self-employed doing eBay sales, were both taken into custody and transported to Orange County Jail. Bail amounts have not been listed yet.  

Click on photo for a larger image

Courtesy of LBPD

Cocaine, cash, a stolen gun and marijuana were found by LBPD during a traffic stop early Monday

 

LBPD is calling for vandals who damaged red telephone booth

On Monday, March 12 at 4:50 p.m., the red telephone public art piece on Forest Avenue was reported to be vandalized.

The piece, Nine Billion,” created by artist Douglas Turner, was found with broken windows, including the door.

Click on photo for a larger image

Photo by Dianne Russell

Vandals will be calling from the other side when they say hello to jail time

According to LBPD Spokesperson Sgt Jim Cota, “The phone booth door was slightly ajar, and a small piece of the phone booth window was cut out. The phone booth door is normally nailed shut, as it is not normally meant to be opened.”

A nearby store had video surveillance but their system was inoperable, said Sgt Cota. “The extent of the damages is unknown to LBPD.”

 

LBPD extends a big welcome back to officer Rock Wagner

On Thursday, Laguna Beach Police Officer Rock Wagner received a warm welcome back by the police department. Officer Wagner is back on the job, after he was exonerated of any wrongdoing inconnection to an investigation by the Fullerton Police Department.

He was placed on paid administrative leave while both the criminal and internal investigations took place.

Click on photo for a larger image

Courtesy LBPD Facebook

Officer Rock Wagner is welcomed back to the LBPD after being on paid administrative leave since November

On the department’s Facebook page, kind sentiments were posted: “Welcome back dayshift briefing for Ofc. Wagner. We are proud to have you back.”


Police Files

Road-rager assaults local woman, grabs her by the hair and slams her to the ground

On Saturday, March 17, at 5:21 p.m., a Laguna Beach resident reported that a man got out of his vehicle and assaulted her at Glenneyre Street and Laguna Avenue, near the Laguna Beach Library.

The woman and her friend said that the man first yelled derogatory comments and hate slurs at them while they were crossing Glenneyre Street in a marked crosswalk. The suspect then got out of his vehicle, grabbed the woman by her hair and pushed her, causing her to fall to the ground.

According to the report, the woman was trying to de-escalate the situation when she was slammed to the ground. 

The suspect is described as a heavy-set Hispanic man in his forties, approximately 5’ 5” tall. At the time of the incident, he was wearing a white t-shirt, black shorts, baseball cap, and sunglasses. 

LBPD detectives are currently working on the case. Anyone who has any additional information or who may have seen the incident is encouraged to call the police department at (949) 497-0701. 

 

Suspected drug dealer leaves car running for hours on Anita St, is no longer running his business

Also on Saturday, in the 400 block of Anita Street, at 12:52 p.m., it was reported that a gray 2010 Nissan Altima had been parked with the car running for three hours and 32 minutes, since 8:20 a.m. that morning.

According to a witness, the vehicle had very dark windows, so it wasn’t possible to see in. The concern was that someone might be inside and need help but caution was obviously necessary.

LBPD responded to the report and Jared Shouna, 23, of Laguna Niguel, was arrested for possession of drugs for sale, transportation of a controlled substance, and possession of a controlled substance.

Drugs found in the car included baggies of heroin that weighed 2.8 gross grams and 2.9 gross grams, a baggie of methamphetamine, weighing 1.6 gross grams, marijuana in a tin, weighing 5.5 gross grams, and marijuana from a red canister, weighing 4.5 net grams. 

“Per the suspect’s comment [at the time of his arrest], the cost of heroin is $70 per gram,” said LBPD Spokesperson Jordan Villwock.

Shouna was taken into custody with bail set at $30,000.


Police Files

LBPD warns of phone scams, encourages residents to “call the PD” for verification of caller’s identity

One quick way to lose your hard-earned cash is to fall prey to a scam, only to find out it’s a sham! Don’t worry, LBPD’s tips can help you thwart these dangerous callers and get them collared.

According to LBPD Spokesperson Sgt Jim Cota, “The big three scams right now are fake calls from the IRS, calls claiming a family member has been kidnapped that demand an immediate ransom [usually around $1,000], and the one that tries to extort money from someone for missing jury duty.”

A Laguna Beach resident fell victim to the latter scam this week, according to police logs. The woman, a resident on Monterey Street, gave her personal and financial information to a scammer who said they were from the sheriff’s department. The caller demanded that she pay an immediate fine for missing jury duty or risk arrest and prosecution. The Laguna woman was defrauded of $560.

“If anybody receives a telephone call or email that they find suspicious in the least, please call the police department and we will verify that the information you are receiving or the person that is calling you,” said Sgt Cota. “Don’t give credit card information, don’t give your social security number, and if at any point, you don’t recognize the number, the person or the company contacting you, call us to verify they are legit. One of our staff will personally call that number to make sure they are who they say they are.”

“We are here to help,” Sgt Cota adds. “It literally breaks my heart to see people, specifically our elderly, taken advantage of in this way.”

If you believe you have been victim of a fraudulent phone or email scam, contact LBPD at (949) 497-0701.

 

Audi crashes into Berkshire Hathaway building in South Laguna

An Audi driver accidentally took a little too much pedal to the metal on Thursday morning, driving into the Berkshire Hathaway office in South Laguna at 10:18 a.m. 

 

Courtesy of LBPD

Luckily, according to Sgt Jim Cota, nobody was injured and the collision caused only minor damage to the building glass and to the vehicle. 

Both the LBPD and LBFD responded to the incident.


LBPD welcomes two new officers into its ranks

LBPD has welcomed two new officers into its ranks, Officer Wade Kraus and Officer Ryan Radel. Both men graduated from the Golden West College Police Academy on March 16.

Courtesy of LBPD

Officer Wade Kraus

Officer Wade Kraus was born in Laguna Beach and raised in Laguna Niguel. His previous employment includes working as a Guest Services Captain for Towne Park Valet Service in Dana Point, a varsity football coach at Dana Hills High School, and an electrician’s assistant for Pacific Coast Electric.  

Kraus started his college education at the University of North Dakota and will be completing his Bachelor’s degree through Arizona State University.

Courtesy of LBPD

Officer Ryan Radel

Officer Ryan Radel worked for CARE Ambulance Service as an EMT for four years while completing his Bachelor’s degree in Public Administration from the California State University of Fullerton.  

Prior to that, he worked as an office assistant at a local church, was a line cook in a family restaurant, volunteered at the Children’s Hospital of Orange County from 2011-2014, and also earned his Eagle Scout rank in the Boy Scouts of America.


Police Files

Downtown clown needs to clean up his act

On Friday, March 23, some clown, yes, in a clown suit, was seen running around downtown causing quite the scene, thrashing trashcans and pulling out trash. The incidents happened in the 200 Block of Park Avenue with myriad trashcans being indiscriminately attacked and rid of their rubbish.

Laguna Beach Police Department received the call at 1:46 a.m., describing the scene of a man in his 40s, dressed in clown regalia, causing the untidy mayhem.

Courtesy of the Internet

Clowning around downtown on Friday (not the real clown, just a representation for illustrative purposes)

LBPD Spokesperson Sgt Jim Cota said, “Officers searched for this clown and they couldn’t find him anywhere. We have never known of a clown doing damage in the city like this.”

“I’ve seen the greeters, I’ve seen mimes, I’ve seen people in front of businesses dressed up in animal suits to generate business…but I’ve never seen a clown digging through trash,” said Sgt Cota.

Obviously, this clown needs to clean up his act.

 

Laguna residents heard booms when reportedly a balloon collided with power lines, knocking out power

Laguna Beach residents and businesses were without power yesterday, primarily in north, downtown, and central Laguna. In total, the power outages were experienced by approximately 5,200 Edison customers.

According to Sgt Jim Cota, “A balloon appears to have been the cause, seen on the power line above 164 Acacia Drive. A total of three explosions were heard from three power poles. Acacia Drive between Broadway Street to Cypress Drive was closed immediately following the explosions.” 

LBPD and LBFD were on the scene until Edison arrived.

Edison’s website reported that there were two separate power outages in Laguna Beach. One outage affected 2,483 customers; the other outage affected 2,790 customers. The outages were first reported at 4:31 p.m., with power trickling back on for different people at different times, until 5:55 p.m., when power was restored to all of Laguna Beach and Acacia Drive was re-opened. 

Rich Garrett, a resident on Poplar Street, was in his backyard reading when the explosions occurred.

“I heard it and I was like, whoa, what was that? It didn’t sound like anything familiar. It almost sounded like a big tractor with a shovel on the front of it, just hit the ground to asphalt, because it had sort of a hollow sound to it,” Garrett said. “It happened a total of three times.”

Garrett had no problem putting down his book.

“I was craving an In-N-Out burger anyway, so I decided to leave my house and go get my burger,” he explained.

Edison advises what to do in an outage situation.

 “When power outages occur, we ask you to make safety your top concern until our crews can locate and repair damage. Remember: Never go near a downed power line. Restoration times vary depending on the level of damage. Our teams are trained to restore power through a three-phase process to get your lights back on as quickly and safely as possible.”

 

Cyber criminals stash $48,000 in cash from a local business’s bank account

A local business and business owner had their Wells Fargo business account compromised of $48,700. The fraud incident was reported on Friday, March 23 at 8:01 p.m., in the 900 Block of Hillcrest Drive.

Sgt Cota said, “The business owner has had the same payroll account for over 15 years. Wells Fargo has reimbursed the business owner and has now become the victim. Wells Fargo Bank wants to prosecute.”

The financial loss from cybercrime in the U.S. exceeded $1.3 billion in 2016, a rise of 24 percent, according to a report issued by the Federal Bureau of Investigation’s Internet Crime Complaint Center.

According to the report, some of the most prevalent and most damaging forms of cybercrimes today include business email compromise (BEC), ransomware, tech support fraud, and extortion.

 LBPD detectives are looking into who may have committed fraud against this business. If you have any information, please contact LBPD at (949) 497-0701.

 

Stolen silver is worth its weight in gold 

On Tuesday, March, 20 at 7:29 a.m., a resident in the 1700 Block of Santa Cruz reported that 300 ounces of silver and three watches were taken from their home within the last week. The type of watches and silver items, weighing 18.75 pounds, have not been released.


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.

Click on photo for a larger image

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! 

Click on photo for a larger image

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.

Click on photo for a larger image

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.

Click on photo for a larger image

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.

Click on photo for a larger image

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.

Click on photo for a larger image

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. 

Click on photo for a larger image

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.”


Police Files

Sunset walk at Victoria Beach turns tragic, woman swept off rocks and drowns  

What started as a sunset walk at Victoria Beach on Wednesday ended in unimaginable tragedy for a married Irvine couple in their 70s. Suddenly, the man’s wife was pulled into the tide and later drowned.

At7:30 p.m. on Wednesday, LBPD, LBFD and LB Marine Safety received 9-1-1 calls about a woman who was swept off the rocks at the north end of Victoria Beach and immediately responded.

The ominous sounds of a rescue helicopter could be heard throughout Laguna Beach, during an extensive search via sea and air by emergency responders.

According to LBPD Spokesperson Sgt Jim Cota, “Police, firefighters, lifeguards, and the U.S. Coast Guard were all involved in the search that lasted approximately two hours.” 

The woman was reported missing at approximately 8:15 p.m. Later, Marine Safety found the missing woman unresponsive at around 10 p.m. She was later identified as Chiawen Keh, 70, of Irvine.

 “It was the wife who was swept off the rocks while they were walking across the rocks,” explained Kai Bond, LB Marine Safety Captain. “A good Samaritan attempted to provide rescue. He was simply a passerby of the incident as it occurred.”

The quick responding good Samaritan nearly drowned himself as he tried to rescue the woman that he saw swept into the large waves and carried out to sea. After searching, he barely got out of the water himself. He was transported to an area hospital; his condition is unknown.

Unfortunately, conditions weren’t favorable with strong currents at the time the couple crossed the jagged, rugged, uneven surface.

“We had 3 to 5-foot surf out of the south and it was rising until 8:17 p.m.,” Cpt Bond said. “It was a situation where the waves were crashing up against the rocks and she was simply swept off. There are [all] sorts of currents in that area; it wasn’t one specific element, but it was a combination of all of them.”

“I want to stress the safety of staying off the rocks during hazardous conditions,” Cpt Bond said.

Click on photo for a larger image

Photo by Mary Hurlbut

The rugged terrain at Victoria Beach turned deadly

“We train on a regular basis on search, rescue and recovery; it’s part of what we do as a marine safety department,” Cpt Bond said. “We take great pride in those skills. Training is ongoing, we train on it consistently in order to provide top level service for our community.”

It’s devastating when a life is lost. 

“It’s a tragedy for the family and we’re mourning with the family as a City,” said Cpt Bond. “I can’t imagine what they’re going through.” 

Sgt Cota echoed his sentiments.

“The Laguna Beach Police Department offers its deepest condolences to the family of Chiawen Keh. We share in the sadness of this very unfortunate situation and will never forget you,” Sgt Cota expressed.

 

Man allegedly exposes himself to two juvenile girls at Aliso Beach

A man allegedly exposed himself to two juvenile girls, ages 12 and 16, in the shower area at Aliso Beach on Tuesday, April 24 at 6 p.m., according to LBPD. Per reports, officers responded to the area – one made contact with the alleged victims and their parents while the other officers searched the area.

After allegedly exposing himself, the suspect fled the scene on foot. The alleged suspect was described to be a white male, shirtless, and wearing khakis. On the run, he crossed Coast Highway, at which time officers suspect he climbed a trail next to the Aliso West parking lot and into the neighborhood overlooking Aliso Beach.

“An officer witnessed the suspect who matched the description leaving a residence. After further investigation and during the search, a wallet, keys, and cash were located on the suspect,” said LBPD Emergency Operations Coordinator Jordan Villwock. 

The alleged suspect, Jerald Bruce Pollard, 31, of Irvine, was detained just south of the location in a neighborhood and was arrested. He was booked on multiple counts.

Officers made contact with the residents where the alleged suspect was seen leaving. The residents confirmed to the officers that all the property found on Pollard’s person belonged to them. 

Besides being arrested on suspicion of willful cruelty to a child (a felony), indecent exposure, and annoying a child under the age of 18, arrest logs also indicate that Pollard was arrested for felony burglary. Bail was set at $100,000 for the willful cruelty charge and $50,000 for the burglary charge, per LBPD.

 

Man caught drinking the suds, while allegedly stealing the duds…

A beer toting man is suspected of taking his victims to the cleaners, stealing their laundry out of the local laundromat on Legion Street. 

A victim called the police on Monday, April 23 at 11:43 p.m., reporting her clothing had been stolen from the laundromat the night before and that she saw the person who did it.

The woman claimed she filed an online report for theft the previous night, regarding the theft of her clothes and the suspect. He was described as a male in his ‘30s or ‘40s, approximately 6’, wearing jeans, and a blue and white plaid shirt. 

“She didn’t approach when she observed him taking the clothing out of fear she might be hurt and that he was back at the laundromat,” said LBPD Emergency Operations Coordinator Jordan Villwock.

 Officers made contact and observed that the suspect was consuming a 24-ounce beer in the front seat of his van, described as a turquoise Astrovan.

 After further investigation and a search of the suspect’s vehicle, officers discovered 38 pieces of clothing. Yes, a large array of duds were found in the van of the man who loves his suds, including sweatshirts, underwear, and the like, estimated at $1,500 in value.

During the name check of the suspect, officers also discovered that the suspect had an outstanding warrant. So they cuffed Jesus Rosas, 37, a construction worker. 

Rosas was arrested for felony grand theft, among other charges. His bail was set at $20,000.

 

When push comes to shove, it takes a village, Laguna, where neighbors gladly push and shove 

On Thursday, April 26 around 4:51 p.m., in the downtown area near Forest Avenue and Third Street, there was a bus, a school bus, that needed to be somewhere in Laguna, but it didn’t quite make it to its destination…yet. 

Until a neighbor came along and lent a helping hand or two, a push and a shove! Yes, it’s pure Laguna love in action…and one of a busload of reasons why we love where we live and love what we do at Stu News! 

Lea Abel-Stone shared the story that’s pure Laguna, the little bus that could…seeing the wayward bus stuck in a rut called peeps to action.

Cary Redfearn, owner of Lumberyard and Slice restaurants, was summoned for this situation of bus frustration. He was at Lumberyard and responded without hesitation. 

“Cary rushed out to help. He actually called back to his kitchen and said, ‘Hey guys, let’s go push a bus,’” Abel-Stone fondly recalled. “But he was the first out and got it going before they came out.”

Click on photo for a larger image

Courtesy of Lea Abel-Stone

Said bus, at first…

Lea Abel-Stone, whose grandfather Chris was the original Lumberyard building designer, and whose father, Gregg, remodeled the building into the Lumberyard Restaurant of today, shared a fun story to bring everyone back to planet Laguna

Click on photo for a larger image

Courtesy of Lea Abel-Stone

Said bus, goes the distance…

Go bus go, with a little bit of heave and ho, to the destination at the LBPD station


Police Files

Late night knifing at Jack In The Box: Suspect flees in Mercedes Benz

At 12:28 a.m. on Saturday, April 28, LBPD officers and LBFD were dispatched to Jack In The Box regarding a stabbing investigation. The victim and a group of friends were inside the dining area at Jack In The Box when Alan Warren Anderson, 59, of Kerville, TX, approached them.

According to LBPD Spokesperson Sgt Jim Cota, “Anderson believed the group made negative statements about him so he approached them.”

“As he did this, the victim stood up and Anderson grabbed a folding knife from his back pocket,” said Sgt Cota. “Anderson opened the knife and lunged toward the victim with an upward slashing motion.”

While allegedly wielding the knife and slashing it at the victim, the knife blade made contact with the victim’s torso area and caused an approximate eight-inch superficial laceration. 

Anderson didn’t stay around to see what would happen next. After the alleged slash, Anderson dashed. Trying to get away, he fled the restaurant on foot, across South Coast Highway, toward Glenneyre Street. 

A quick-thinking Jack In The Box employee pursued Anderson and saw him jump behind the wheel of a black Mercedes Benz with Texas license plates. Anderson took off driving north on Coast Highway.

Shortly thereafter, the vehicle was spotted by officers in the area of Broadway Street and North Coast Highway. LBPD pulled over the Benz to conduct an investigative stop at the 1200 Block of North Coast Highway near Myrtle Street. Anderson, who is a retiree, was the sole occupant in the Mercedes.

 “His clothing and personal descriptors matched the description provided by the victim and witnesses,” said Sgt Cota. “He was detained and positively identified by the victim.” 

During a search of Anderson’s vehicle, a knife with blood residue and a handgun were located in the trunk of his Benz. No charges were filed regarding the handgun. However, he was taken into custody by the LBPD and charged with Assault with a Deadly Weapon, a felony, for the alleged stabbing at Jack In The Box.

Bail was set at $25,000.

 

Man faces felony vandalism charges after trashing City trash can

On Wednesday, April 25 at 10:30 p.m. at Main Beach, a Public Works supervisor observed a shirtless male push over a city owned concrete trash can causing damage.

 Brett Bolin, 29, Laguna Beach, “overturned the City trash can…causing the can to sustain a two-foot crack on one side,” said Sgt Cota.

The condition of the cracked can was irreparable. But not irreplaceable; the cost is estimated to be $500. 

Why was the defenseless trash can targeted?

“Bolin was upset because someone stole his belongings, so he took out his frustrations on the trash can. Bolin also admitted to damaging the trash can,” said Sgt Cota.

 Bolin was arrested for felony vandalism because the property damage amounted to over $400. He was transported to OC Jail. Bail was set at $20,000.

 

Speed racer takes officers on “wild and wanton” 4 a.m. car chase

On Friday, April 27 at 3:50 a.m., a vehicle was careening outbound at the 300 Block of Broadway Street, when an officer behind it reported that it was swerving in the roadway. The officer attempted a traffic stop and the vehicle accelerated and failed to yield. 

“The officer initiated a pursuit of the vehicle. The suspect vehicle accelerated, slowed and accelerated multiple times,” said Sgt Cota. The vehicle continued to flee outbound Laguna Canyon Road to the 5 Freeway northbound.”

 C.H.P. took over the pursuit at Jamboree and the 5 freeway. The pursuit terminated in Newport Beach on Newport Blvd at 17th Street. 

The suspect, Michael Allen Garcia, 40, of Laguna Beach, was arrested for felony evading. Garcia was not intoxicated or wanted for any other reason, said Sgt Cota. “He just decided to cause a pursuit.” 

The car was not stolen. 

Garcia was transported to OC Jail.


Police Files

Frightened mom pays out thousands to suspected cartel members while on vacation in Laguna Beach

On Tuesday, May 1 at 7:25 a.m., an officer spoke with a frightened and distraught female victim in the front lobby at LBPD. The woman, who was vacationing in Laguna Beach from Nebraska, had fallen victim to a virtual kidnapping scam that has been circulating around town in recent weeks.

 “She was a victim of the virtual kidnapping scam via telephone. She received a phone call from a Nebraska area code and the suspect stated he had her son,” said LBPD Spokesperson Sgt Jim Cota. “She attempted to contact her son, but was unable to do so. This increased her fears and she ultimately wired $3,000 to the suspect via Western Union.”

The woman recounted her horrifying story. On the call she heard a voice that sounded like her son plead, “Mom, it’s serious.” 

She was told if she did not wire the requested amount of money immediately, she would find her son in the river.

The suspects are two Hispanic males with suspected cartel connections, according to the victim’s statement

“There were two guys who went back-and-forth on the phone, “John Morales,” with a Spanish accent, who sounded about 20 years old. He claimed to be affiliated with the cartel,” said Sgt Cota.

“Victor,” the second suspect, also had a Spanish accent, according to the victim, and sounded approximately 40 years old.

“At one point, one of them said, ‘It won’t take much more to end this. You won’t find your son in the Missouri River.’”

She did the right thing by going to LBPD. 

Kathie Gross from Laguna Niguel is still suffering from PTSD, after enduring the trauma of being a victim of a virtual kidnapping scam thinking someone had taken her daughter. 

“I immediately heard what I thought was 100 percent my daughter’s voice. It sounded exactly like her. She said, ‘mom,’ and I said yes. ‘Mom I have a problem.’ She sounded very frantic. I said, ‘yes,’ thinking something happened at school. And then she said, ‘they took me, I’m in a van, and I don’t know where I am.’ I was just silent and then I said, ‘My God, where are you Jordan?’”

Gross explained, “Her name is Jordan which is often mistaken for a male’s name. I think at that point, they wrote her name down.”

Gross asked her daughter again where she was.

“’She said I don’t know, I think I am on the freeway and there aren’t any windows,’” Gross said. “At that point, a man got on the phone and asked, Is this Kathie Gross and I said yes. And he said, listen missy, you better not hang up, you better not be calling the police. My guys have got him.”

She said that right then he made the mistake of referring to my daughter as a boy.

“And at that point my radar sort of went up, still thinking it’s very possible she’s in that car. Because I heard her voice,” Gross said.

She said there were two things that raised red flags, the mistake of calling her daughter a boy and her daughter being in a school where the security is incredibly safe.

“I was thinking, if I hang up they’ll just think that I dropped the call. And in that time, they’ll call me back and I will have verified that she’s at the school,” Gross said. “So I hung up. I was absolutely out of my mind. It was a miracle I didn’t have an accident.” 

She called the school, however, it wasn’t as simple as that; her daughter stayed late at a class, so the school couldn’t locate her. 

“So they kept calling back and I kept hanging up calling the school,” Gross said. “As the moments went by I became more and more terrified.”

Luckily, the virtual kidnappers didn’t have her daughter. But, it has become her mission to get the word out so other parents won’t have to endure what she has. She found out that it has become a billion dollar national scam.

She said, “Shouldn’t people know about this?”

 

Big truck crashes on Nyes causing massive five-car collision, barely missing a driver head on

On Tuesday, May 1 at 11:42 a.m., LBPD received a call about a traffic collision involving a large truck that occurred on Nyes Place. 

When they arrived on scene they found the formidable 14-foot box truck turned on its side. 

“A 14’ box truck crashed in the 200 block of Nyes Place causing a massive five-car and one-structure collision,” said Sgt Cota.

The truck was turned on its side, as seen in photos below. Traffic in the area was heavily congested for hours. Thankfully, there were only minor injuries for the two occupants.

The truck was loaded with debris, thankfully no chemicals. 

Longtime Laguna Beach resident Johnny Miller recounted what he saw from his residence, a 270-degree fishbowl view of what happened after the point of impact, a collision he said was close to being deadly.

“These guys were doing construction at South Street, they’ve been doing it a couple of days. Suddenly, I hear this big noise and I look out of the window and someone had just smashed into the construction guy’s car in a driveway and the truck rolled over,” Miller said. 

He couldn’t believe his eyes.

“It was like watching a Hollywood movie. I didn’t think cars actually did that. This huge truck rolled over,” Miller said. 

Click on photo for a larger image

Courtesy of LBPD PIO Twitter Page

Big truck hammers, hits a car, flips on its side and careens going sideways nearly hitting the driver straight on

After seeing what happened, he put the pieces together. 

Miller surmised that the semi-truck’s brakes went out at the very top of the hill at Nyes Place.

 “I guess on the way down, he smashed into a parked car and pushed it off the road. He totally plowed into it; the back end was totally off,” Miller said. “He kept going, plowed into the car down the hill that was parked in the driveway of the construction guy, rolled over, and then another car came out as soon as he rolled over.”

He said another car was coming up from under the tunnel at Victoria Place underneath Coast highway.

“The side of the truck hit the front of the car. If he hadn’t rolled over and kept going straight, he would have plowed straight into the driver’s side door and killed him,” Miller said. 

Miller said the driver was lucky the truck rolled over, instead of being seriously injured or worse.

Immediately everybody ran over to help the victim get out.

“They had to climb on the truck and open the driver’s side door and pull him out from the top of the truck to get him out,” Miller said. “And then the EMT’s came and like four police cars and firetrucks.”

Click on photo for a larger image

Courtesy of Johnny Miller

Big truck causes a big scare after plowing down Nyes Place taking out five cars and a structure

He said it all happened really fast. 

“I’m lucky I turned my head when I heard it, otherwise, I wouldn’t have seen it turn over,” Miller said. “I go, whoa, that was weird and it was really loud.”

He said that it took about three hours to figure out how to haul away the big truck, “I mean there were four tow trucks towing it.”

 

Driver plows down a cement wall near beach entry 

On the evening of Tuesday, May 1, a driver in a black Toyota Prius pulled over and was taking a break from driving for some chill time at the 100 block of Moss Street and Ocean Way.

The driver tried to stretch inside the vehicle to get comfortable. “While stretching, he took his foot off the brake, believing the vehicle was in park,” said Sgt Cota. “The vehicle started rolling forward and he could not react quick enough to break.”

Click on photo for a larger image

Courtesy of LBPD PIO Twitter Page

A driver accidentally drove through this concrete wall on Tuesday

Thankfully, there were no reported injuries, other than the 8-foot wall.


Police Files

Running a red light on foot at 3:15 a.m. on Cinco de Mayo while stashing meth is not a good idea

On Saturday, May 5 at 3:15 a.m., a Laguna Beach Police Department officer made a pedestrian stop after seeing two males cross the street against a red light at Laguna Avenue and South Coast Highway.

The males were identified as Jordan Escobar, 25, and Juana Hernandez-Perez, 30, both of San Clemente.

LBPD Spokesperson PIO Sgt Jim Cota said, “LBPD found out that both men had warrants for their arrest. Escobar had an OC warrant for drug charges ($5,000) and Hernandez-Perez had an OC warrant for vehicle code violations ($2,500).”

According to Sgt Cota, both men were taken into custody and were admonished about the additional charge if any contraband was brought into the jail. 

“Once inside the jail, a jailer observed a white piece of paper protruding from Escobar’s buttocks. Escobar claimed it was nothing. A strip search was conducted and revealed that inside the paper was 4.4 grams methamphetamine worth about $350,” said Sgt Cota.

 A felony charge was added to Escobar’s initial warrant charge, and both subjects were transported to OC Jail. Bail was set at $25,000 for Escobar.

 

Hit by a car, motorcyclist ends up in the hospital 

On Saturday, May 5 at 12:58 p.m., officers were dispatched to a traffic collision with injuries involving a vehicle and a motorcycle at South Coast Highway and Ocean Avenue. The motorcycle was down. Officers blocked three lanes of traffic at the intersection, two northbound lanes of Coast Highway and one southbound lane.

 

Click on photos for larger images

Courtesy of Marshall Aren/Angela Russick

A motorcyclist went down and ended up in the ER after a traffic collision on Saturday

“The motorcycle rider was transported to Mission Hospital Laguna Beach with orientation concerns due to head trauma,” said Sgt Cota. “Traffic was impacted for approximately 40 minutes. The driver of the vehicle was placed at fault.”

 

Not your ordinary Joe, LBPD saddened by passing of former LBPD Police Chief Joseph Kelly at age 99

On LBPD’s Facebook page this week, the team expressed their grief after the loss of one of their own, Joseph Kelly, former LBPD Police Chief, 1971 to 1973.

“Members of the Laguna Beach Police Department are sadden (sic) by the passing of former Chief of Police Joseph Kelly at age 99. Chief Kelly lived a life as a public servant, first as a Marine where he retired in 1970 as a Colonel, and then as a Chief of Police in both the cities of Laguna Beach and Tustin. Thank you for your service! #RIP.”

Joseph John Kelly, age 99, Col., U.S.M.C. Ret., passed away May 1, 2018 in Laguna Woods. 

Kelly was born June 1, 1918, in the Bronx, N.Y., the son of Joseph Francis and Selma Kelly. He attended Fordham Prep in the Bronx and graduated in February, 1935 at age 16. Joe enlisted in the Marines in January, 1942, beginning a 28-year career both in enlisted and officer’s positions. 

He married the former Patricia Ann O’Connor on September 5, 1942. They were married 57 years, raising a family of nine children that eventually grew to18 grandchildren and 20 great grandchildren. 

Click on photo for a larger image

Courtesy of LBPD Facebook 

Former LBPD Police Chief Joe Kelly, who cracked down on the drug epidemic during his tenure in the early ‘70s, passed away on May 1 at age 99

During his tenure as LBPD Police Chief, Kelly (along with his predecessor, LBPD Chief Neil Purcell) was known for cracking down on drugs in Laguna Beach.


Police Files

Not this time: Virtual kidnapping scam is thwarted

For over three consecutive weeks, several women in Laguna have been targeted in a virtual kidnapping scam, a billion-dollar crime that’s sweeping the country. 

On Monday, May 7 at 3 p.m., LBPD received a call from a woman reporting that she was threatened with the virtual kidnapping scam.

“It was another kidnapping scam but was unsuccessful,” said LBPD Spokesperson PIO Sgt Jim Cota.

The woman who reported the attempted crime does not have kids, so she did not fall for the scam. 

“She knew about the scam from the LBPD warnings,” said Sgt Cota.

Thanks should go out to our helpful and proactive police department for getting the word out about this growing cyber crime.

In most cases, the best course of action is to hang up the phone and call 9-1-1.

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..

 

Asleep at the wheel with a foot on the brake still equals a DUI

On Tuesday, May 8 at 7:42 p.m., what started out as a welfare check did not fare well for a Mission Viejo man who was reportedly found passed out behind the wheel of his car at the 200 Block of Broadway Street.

When LBPD officers arrived on scene, Vincent Lee Daugherty, 30, was reportedly slumped in the driver’s seat of his black Honda Accord. He was parked east bound on Broadway Street in close proximity to a local liquor store. 

“A male was passed out inside his vehicle with the vehicle in drive and his foot on the brake,” said Sgt Cota.

“He was contacted and a DUI investigation was conducted,” Cota said. “He was arrested and this was his second DUI.” 

Because the suspected DUI was Daugherty’s second, bail was set at $10,000