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A special edition of Police Files

Where the Wild Things Are…

Avid Stu News reader shaken by “tarantula-sized” cockroach

Hot of the press, yesterday at 11:04 p.m. in the Boat Canyon area of North Laguna, long-time resident Christopher Kling reported in a Stu News exclusive a horrific experience of the entomology variety. 

Kling said, “I thought I was all alone a couple days ago, sitting on the toilet, minding my own business, when an intruder the size of a tarantula, zipped into my bedroom from the bathroom. I was so mortified!”

The unwanted guest, a cockroach, was the size of a silver dollar coin, Kling said, and probably the biggest he had seen in his life.

“I told my neighbor about it, who reported back to me today, that he too had an intruder as well. Turns out the humidity is the culprit, and I want to confirm with all the neighbors that the roaches aren’t just at your place,” Kling said.

Keep your eyes peeled and beware, Laguna!

Police Files Cockroach

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Courtesy of the Internet

Cockroaches are on the rise in Laguna right now due to increased humidity

Extra-large raccoon and “wolves” reported on Catalina Street

On Sunday, July 8 at 9:41 p.m., at the 800 block of Catalina Street, a caller reported “a 30 lb. raccoon hanging around the house.” According to Wikipedia, the average raccoon weighs between 7.7 and 20 lbs, meaning this was a very large and well-fed raccoon.

A couple of days later, on July 10 at 9:21 p.m., also at the 800 block of Catalina, LBPD received a call from a resident about a “possible wolf” in their backyard. Moments later, the caller reported the “possible wolf” was now in their neighbors’ backyard.

Animal Services was notified of the incident via email…and rest is history/a mystery.

Duck, duck, geese, shoo them away please

Recently, at 9:19 a.m. at the 5500 block of Paseo Del Lago, a caller reported that geese were “defecating by the doors and [were] also near garages.” 

The caller went on to state that, “[the] Geese are not afraid of people and are coming very close to people.”

The resident requested further contact from Animal Services to resolve the situation. It is unknown what the next steps were.

Snaking around on the ground…those slithering snakes seem to abound

There have been at least five recent rattlesnake sightings reported locally, including one on Monday, July 9 at the 0 block of La Costa Court, and another one that day at the 900 block of Quivera Street; two on Thursday, July 5 – one at the 900 block of Park Avenue and one at the 3400 block of Bahia Blanca Way; and then two at the 3200 block of Bern Court within three days – one was an extra large snake and the other was likely a baby snake.


Police Files

Bomb on the beach: Boat Canyon evacuated Sunday

On Sunday, July 1, at approximately 11:30 a.m., an officer responded to Boat Canyon Beach amidst reports from lifeguards that a paddleboarder had found a possible phosphorous explosive device in the water.

“A lifeguard reported that the paddleboarder had brought it [the suspicious item] back to the beach,” said LBPD Spokesperson Sgt Jim Cota. “The lifeguard suspected it was a military explosive device, so LBPD was contacted. The beach was evacuated and the OCSD bomb squad was called to remove the device from the beach.” 

All access points to the beach were closed until the device was removed.

The field unit responded to the scene.

LB Marine Safety Cpt Kai Bond filled in more details. 

“Marine Safety cleared the beach and asked dispatch to notify the residents in the surrounding area. Because we didn’t know exactly what the device was at that point, we staged away and contacted the OC Sheriff’s Department,” Cpt Bond said. “One of their investigators came down and essentially determined that the suspected explosive device needed to be removed and that’s what they did.”

Police Files Explosive

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Photo provided by LBPD

A paddleboarder finds an explosive device on Boat Canyon Beach: Marine Safety and LBPD clear the area and call the OC Bomb Squad

“I have seen this type of incident before, but not at a high frequency,” Cpt Bond said. “Remember, if you ‘see something, say something,’ wherever it is, even the beach.”

Once Marine Safety receives a report and gets a visual of the object, they will call in the experts to remove it. 

“That’s not our field as far as determining exactly what it is. We need someone with that type of training,” Cpt Bond said. “Public safety is our number one priority.”

Four-year-old missing for 22 mins near Main Beach, Marine Safety rescues & reunites her with parents

On Saturday, June 30 at 3:42 p.m., at the 400 block of N Coast Highway, Marine Safety received a report of a four-year-old girl missing from Main Beach.

A frantic mother said that her daughter was last seen on the sand about 20 yards South of Main Beach. She described her daughter as having long brown hair and brown eyes, wearing a blue-ish-green one-piece swimsuit. 

Lifeguards and LBPD searched the area, south along the wet sand, checking the front of El Paseo and the Boardwalk, down to Oak and Cleo Street.

“The four-year-old-girl had been separated from her parents right in front of the playground and made her way all the way down to Bird Rock,” LB Marine Safety Cpt Kai Bond said. “The police department and lifeguards located her on the north end of Main Beach by Bird Rock Tower and reunited her with her mother.”

The search and find took 22 minutes, which must have been a long and agonizing time for her parents.

However, Cpt Bond said it’s not that unusual for parents and children to get separated at the beach.

“The best thing they can do is notify a lifeguard so they can get the appropriate resources to search for the missing child,” Cpt Bond said. “I would just urge people to keep a watchful eye on their children at the beach. But for whatever reason, if they are separated, they should notify a lifeguard.”

Saloon owner reaches out to locals after a former employee is arrested for allegedly selling cocaine

Michael Byrne, owner of The Saloon, who also owns Roux restaurant with his wife Cindy, went online to reach out to the community after the recent arrest of doorman, William Hoglund, outside The Saloon for an outstanding DUI warrant and also with cocaine for sale.

Devastated to hear the news, Bryne didn’t waste any time. He immediately responded to the news about his now-former employee.

 “Many of you have read Stu News Laguna today (Friday) and were hopefully shocked to see what was the top lead story. I was sickened. I’m coming on here today to apologize to our community for not being aware of everything that was allegedly going on in my bar,” Byrne said. “I’m embarrassed and have a responsibility for what goes on.”

 Byrne said he personally researched the incident for 36 hours. 

“No one who currently works at The Saloon had any knowledge of what was happening. From the day we took over The Saloon 15 years ago, we have not in any way turned a blind eye to the behavior that can develop in the service industry.”

 He said they were active in enforcing any illegal behavior and have been known as a bar that would never allow a drug atmosphere to survive. 

“Of course, there are things that go on that you can do nothing about because you have no knowledge of a customer’s behavior,” Byrne said. “Robert Doerr, my wife Cindy, and I, and all of our staff will from today forward step up our game to ensure you all that this sort of behavior will not happen again.”

He reiterated that The Saloon is not a drug bar, has never been a drug bar, nor will it ever be a drug bar. 

“This recent misfortune is a one and done,” Byrne said.

 “Meghan Markle” saved by a stranger, reunited with “Prince Harry”

Stu News is happy to let readers know that the trapped kitty reported in Friday’s Police Files is happy and healthy and sitting pretty. We heard the news thanks to reader Karl Williams who contacted Stu News, responding to a plea to contact the editor with information about the kitty. 

Williams is actually the hero rescuer in this only-in-Laguna scenario that ends with a feel-good finale of a freed-feline by a stranger who sprang into action. 

The trapped kitty, Megan Markel, a four-month-old kitten, adopted not long ago with her brother Prince Harry, hid in the wheel well of Susan Pivovaroff’s Jeep, unintentionally making the long hot trek from Whittier to Laguna.

“The woman who owned the car came into LGOCA gallery, where I was working that day. She told me about the cat. I got a screwdriver and ruler and took the panel off above her passenger-side front wheel,” Williams said. “I pulled the cat out and returned it to her. It was lodged in a ball between the side skirt and front panel.”

Pollice Files Cat

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Photo provided by Susan Pivovaroff

Good Samaritan artist Karl Williams rescues kitty Meghan Markle, who got stuck in the panel of a Jeep, making a long scary trek from Whittier to Laguna Beach

Meghan Markle was covered in dirt, he said. And if the cat was any bigger, she would not have been able to be rescued. But he had her out in six minutes.

“I am still processing it right now that her name is Meghan Markle, well, Miss Markle, this is lucky, very lucky this time. It’s not going to happen again,” Williams said.

“I’ve had a lot sadness lately. And this is just an uplifting – a very unique, sweet story that miracles do happen,” Pivovaroff said. “I cried. It just shows there are angels out there. I am so grateful to Karl.”

She had just got Meghan Markle and Prince Harry two weeks prior after wanting kittens for a long time. Before she pulled out of the driveway of their Whittier home she said she spotted Harry and Meghan playing together, so the coast was clear to hit the coast of Laguna.

“I was driving as fast as I could I couldn’t wait to get here,” Pivovaroff said. 

Meeting relatives in Laguna, they heard a series of meows for help.

“My heart dropped thinking that my kitty was stuck in there,” she said. 

They even called LBPD. They checked everywhere and even brought cat food and water, but to no avail.

After Williams rescued Meghan, Pivovaroff thanked him again for his heroics.

“He said, actually you made my day,” she said. “I felt truly like angels were there.”


Police Files

Local chef injured by hit-and-run driver, grandmother pleads for help finding suspect

A local grandmother reached out to Stu News on the Fourth of July pleading for help in locating a hit and run driver who struck her 26-year-old grandson, also a Laguna Beach resident, on Tuesday night, leaving him injured on the side of the road.

The hit and run happened sometime between 9:20 and 9:30 p.m. on July 3, as the young man was going down the hill from Laguna Terrace, where he lives, approaching the Jewish Temple in the South Laguna shopping center of CVS/Gelson’s. 

If anyone saw anything or might know someone that was in the area at the time, any tip would be helpful.

“My name is Shirleen Blevins; my family and I have been Laguna Beach residents for the past 23 years. I am reaching out to inquire to post a notice in the paper to help find the SUV hit/run driver who hit and left my grandson injured last night,” she said.

According to Blevins, her grandson Andre sustained a fractured right elbow, a right radial head fracture and intensive abrasion of the upper extremity.

“He had some people over; he was taking his skateboard to grab a couple of things at Gelson’s. He was making a turn and someone hit him on the leg hard enough for him to lose his balance causing to him to fly off his board, sliding across the parking lot and ended up facing toward PCH,” Blevins said. “He didn’t have a helmet on but in his mind he was going on a quick trip. Even the doctor said there is no way the vehicle did not feel the impact of hitting Andre.”

Andre is about 6’4” or 6’5” and weighs around 185 lbs. He’s very active and walks to work to his job as a chef at Driftwood. It will take a couple months of rehabilitation to get him back on the job.

“He has abrasions, road rash all across his back and into his shoulder blades. The abrasions are really bad. There is so much swelling from him skidding,” Blevins said. “He’s right-handed, he was going down and tried to break his fall using his hand, where he has abrasions that go up to his forearm and elbow.”

She asked him to walk him through the accident and he said, “I just don’t remember.”

He doesn’t remember the license plate and he didn’t see the driver. He knew something was coming so he served. He was so focused on preventing getting hurt and trying to break the fall. He felt the bump of the car and he went skidding and everything else is just a blur,” Blevins said. “He thinks that the vehicle was an SUV, and maybe that it’s a Mercedes or BMW or something like that.”

She called the accident inhumane, just to leave and not think of the life of another human being.

“He’s really down. He’s really independent and thinks he can take care of himself. So last night when he had a moment of clarity he said, “So I won’t be able to go or make any money for six weeks minimum? It was just that simplistic kind of realization that hit him.”

LBPD really can’t do anything she said because he couldn’t give them any information to go on. 

Stu News has vowed to put the word out.

“We’re such a small town and everybody reads Stu News and everybody talks about everything, and I just thought, if just one person reads this and then maybe passes it on to another person someone might know something,” Blevins said. “That’s what I am hoping for.

“It’s inhumane to not care about the life of another human being. To just leave him there…it’s just not right,” Blevins said.

If you saw something or have any tips at all, please contact LBPD’s Sgt Jim Cota at (949) 464-6671.

“I appreciate your help to find this car/driver. He/she either lives or was visiting someone in Laguna Terrace,” Blevins said.

Let’s make it happen Laguna! We take care of our own!

Second suspect, LBHS grad and local bartender, arrested on felony coke sales charge

A second suspect has been arrested in conjunction with the Wednesday, June 27 LBPD arrest of William Hoglund for an outstanding DUI warrant outside of The Saloon. Hoglund was a security doorman at The Saloon and a search of his person revealed five grams of individually packaged cocaine for sale, according to LBPD. In addition to the warrant, he was charged with possession for sales of a controlled substance.     

LBPD Detectives followed up on the arrest and executed a search warrant at Hoglund’s residence. Inside the home, it was learned that Tyler Benson, 27, was a roommate of Hoglund. A search of Benson’s room revealed additional individually wrapped baggies of cocaine and a large sum of currency. 

According to LBPD Spokesperson PIO Sgt Jim Cota, “Over $9,000 in cash was found at their residence.”

Benson was also arrested that same day for felony conspiracy to commit a crime and felony possession for sale of a narcotic or controlled substance.

Police Files Tyler Benson

Courtesy of LBPD

Tyler Benson, 27 was arrested in conjunction with his roommate William Hoglund after a search for drugs and money by LBPD on Wednesday, June 29

Both Hoglund and Benson are employed at separate Laguna Beach bar and restaurant establishments. 

Benson is a graduate of LBHS and was formerly employed as a bartender at a restaurant on Glenneyre Street in downtown prior to his arrest.

“Our Downtown Foot Patrol Team has done a fantastic job developing partnerships with the restaurant and bar management and security throughout our town. This is an example of that partnership paying dividends in keeping our city a safe place to live, work and play,” said Cpt Jeff Calvert, LBPD.

According to public arrest reports, Benson’s bail was set at $25,000.

Hate speech and racial symbols found in backpack of LBUSD juvenile student 

On Monday, July 2, at the 200 block of Ocean Avenue, LBPD received a report of a black backpack sitting outside left unattended for a few hours. The caller told LBPD that they would like the owner to pick it up. Inside they found that the backpack contained an LBUSD laptop and schoolwork. 

“Inside the backpack were drawings of characters displaying racial symbols as well as possible hate speech items,” said LBPD Spokesperson PIO Sgt Jim Cota. “A name of a juvenile was located on the school work. The items will be sent to our Juvenile Detective for follow-up.”

Marine Safety Files

A colorful July 4th for Marine Safety, including 59 rescues

LB Marine Safety Cpt Kai Bond said that they have been incredibly busy over the last couple of days, especially on Fourth of July, and warns of dangerously high surf conditions through tonight.

“As far as our rescue count, we had 59 rescues; we had 69 medical aids, 6,592 public contacts and 3,101 prevents, which is when we talk to the public specifically if they are in a precarious situation and prevent them from doing anything that would put them in danger,” Cpt Bond said.

“We had 61 lifeguards working on the 4th. We work 24/7 but our operations began at 6 a.m. and went all the way through the fireworks show,” Cpt Bond said. “We had extras that day in order to deal with the conditions of the 4th of July crowd. I love the 4th; it’s just a really long day.”

As for beach attendance, Cpt Bond said that it’s one of the busiest days. Because of the holiday they saw large crowds as expected.

For the holiday, Laguna experienced warm water temperatures and air temperatures with a high temperature of 74 degrees and the water at about 70 degrees. The surf was 2 to 3 feet and the flag was green.

 Cpt Bond wanted to warn beachgoers about the dangerous high swell that’s occurring through Friday.

“We have a high surf advisory from the National Weather Service,” Cpt Bond said. 

On Thursday night, Laguna’s beaches had an orange surf advisory that will be elevated to a red surf warning and is expected to peak Friday.

“Expect five to eight-foot surf with some larger sets and strong rip currents, he warned. “Make sure to swim near a lifeguard, to check in, and to know your limitations and ability before you head into the water.” 

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Photo by Mary Hurlbut

High surf and strong rip currents are expected though the night today (Friday)

With the high-heat advisory, he expects to see large crowds through the weekend.

To be in the water, Cpt Bond says Marine Safety recommends that a person should be experienced and have two fins and swimming under an open lifeguard tower.

“Because these conditions are for experts only,” Cpt Bond said, “We recommend that people that don’t have the ocean experience and have two fins stay out of the water during these times of elevated surf.”

Although the high surf warning was supposed to expire at 9 p.m. Friday, an updated announcement from the National Weather Service said to expect high surf and strong rip currents expected through the night.

According to the updated warning, “expect 5 to 8 ft along south and southwest facing beaches of Orange and northern San Diego Counties, with occasional sets 10-12 ft at favored locations in Orange County.” 

Partly to blame are the south swells from Tropical Storm Fabio creating high surf at our local beaches and in the area. 

In addition to the surf, strong rip and longshore currents will make swimming hazardous. If caught in a rip current, swim parallel to the shore and back toward the beach when possible. Never attempt to swim against a rip current.

Swell and surf will gradually subside this weekend.


Police Files

Valet gives new Escalade to the wrong person

On Friday, July 20 at 6:16 p.m., at the 1500 block of S Coast Hwy, an Arizona man called to report his vehicle missing. According to the man, the valet gave his brand new white 2018 Cadillac Escalade with black custom wheels to the wrong person at the valet stand. 

The man reported to LBPD that his vehicle was “given away to someone else from valet” approximately 45 to 60 minutes prior to placing his call.

The man’s OnStar tracked the vehicle down at a 76 Station in Newport Beach. Nearly an hour after his call to LBPD (and almost two hours after his vehicle went missing), the female driver returned it to Surf and Sand at 7:08 p.m.

“Yes, it was given to the wrong person. They were able to track it via GPS to a location in Newport Beach where NBPD made contact with the individual and the vehicle was returned,” LBPD Spokesperson Emergency Services Coordinator Jordan Villwock said.

Stu News reached out to the hotel to get a comment about the incident and received an email from their public relations agency: “Unfortunately, we are unable to comment on the ongoing investigation at this time. Thank you for your understanding.”

According to LBPD, there was no arrest report filed and no arrest made.

Stu News reached out to Newport Beach Police Department and spoke with the Watch Commander on call Thursday. 

He said, “I have no recollection of that incident being reported. But believe it or not, it does happen every once in a while. Usually it’s an accident.”

The incident is perplexing, there is no accident about that. How did the female accidently drive away in the brand new car with that special new car scent and not realize that it wasn’t her shiny, new Cadillac? Could it be that there were several parked at the resort on that day? Was it a joy ride, a thrill ride or a vehicle theft thwarted by OnStar?

Spitting on an officer’s face = more crimes, more fines, more time

On Monday, July 16 at 8:59 p.m., at the 31100 block of Coast Highway, LBPD officers stopped Neyzza Mendoza, 25, of Huntington Park.

“The subject spit twice at officers after being arrested for outstanding warrants, once hitting an officer in the face narrowly missing his left eye,” LBPD Spokesperson Emergency Services Coordinator Jordan Villwock said.

Police Files Mendoza

Courtesy of LBPD

Neyzza Mendoza

Mendoza was arrested on a San Bernardino warrant for vandalism and destruction of property worth over $400 and willfully fighting in public, with her bail set at $350,000. Additional charges included possession of a controlled substance, possession of Xanax without a valid prescription, and battery committed against a peace officer.

Emergency calls, wires down three times in two days 

On Friday, July 20 at 4:50 p.m., at the 1600 block of Catalina Street, a resident called LBPD to report downed wires. She was moving into a new place, she said, when the wires went down.

“Unknown what type of wires, but there is no smoke or flames,” she said. “The wires were connected to a pole.”

According to dispatch notes, LBFD was unable to move them. Frontier Communications was contacted to come out and fix the down lines but said they would most likely “not be able to make it until the next day.”

Also on Friday, at 1:51 p.m., another downed wire was reported at the 700 block of S Coast Hwy. The caller explained to LBPD that a pole or transformer was on fire with smoke actively spewing out of a pipe with a flame estimated to be six inches to one foot tall. Southern California Edison was contacted and expected to give an estimate on when they would arrive. “No more smoke,” reported the resident at 2:09 p.m.

On Wednesday, July 18 at 2:37 p.m., at the 500 block of Oak Street, a resident called LBPD to report wires down, saying, “A moving van possibly hit and took down a couple of wires.”

Five to six houses were affected. Edison and Cox Communications were contacted to dispatch help. Cox said that a tech would likely respond within the hour. Edison was on site quickly and was able to clear the road, which was reopened about two hours later at 4:28 p.m.

Edison offers safety tips at www.sce.com/wps/portal/home/safety/power-lines-and-you. “Stay away. Do not approach or touch the wire or any person or object in contact with the wire. Call 911 and inform the operator it’s an electrical emergency.”

Love thy neighbor? Not so much these days, according to police logs

Pick your personal poison of neighbor pet peeves: is it loud music and parties, early morning construction, the buzz of leaf blowers, barking dogs or the sight of dogs running amok off leash? No matter the particular displeasure, Stu News is seeing a rise in neighbor-against-neighbor calls to LBPD. In the last week, LBPD received nearly 30 such calls, including:

On Sunday, July 15 at 9:11 p.m., a resident called LBPD and said they “just wanted the band [across the street] to stop.” A second RP called to complain, and a third caller confirmed the location.

Earlier that evening, at 8:08 p.m., LBPD was informed about a disturbance on Forest Ave. “A male is playing the piano very loud,” reported the caller, who had citizen arrest paperwork filled out.

At 1:14 p.m., a caller complained about “loud machines going off.” According to the logs, the RP “asked them to stop but it was still continuing.” 

On Tuesday, July 17 at 6:34 a.m., a resident called to report a “loud saw that started at 6:15 a.m.,” The resident felt it was a LBMC violation. “She uses the saw on weekends too,” the neighbor reported.

On Wednesday, July 18 at 9:51 p.m., someone called 911 to report a loud party. LBPD advised that a party wasn’t an emergency and that they should “call the non-emergency number.”

On Thursday, July 19 at 10 p.m., a loud party was reported. The caller said to LBPD, “You will hear it.”

Earlier in the day at 4:23 p.m., LBPD received a complaint that a resident was “putting out cones to block the street.” The information was secondhand, the caller said.

On Friday, July 20 at 10:37 p.m., a loud party complaint was called in. “There are approximately 20 people at the party,” stated the neighbor.

At 9:10 p.m., LBPD received a call about a “Live band, really loud.” LBPD advised them [the band] to “turn it down.”

At 8:56 p.m., a resident reported that there was a drone hovering over her residence while she was in her pajamas. According to police logs, LBPD was unable to locate the drone.

At 10:39 a.m., a resident complained of a leaf blower.

Not listed but interspersed, LBPD received construction noise calls, barking dogs, parking and driveway blocking complaints, along with a slew of other neighbor offenses. Block party anyone?


Police Files

LBPD nails and jails three out-of-towners who assaulted locals at The Saloon

On August 11, 2017, at 1:30 a.m., LBPD officers responded to a fight in progress at The Saloon in the 400 block of S 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 victims sustained injuries, including broken bones and lacerations. The female victim sustained minor injuries.

Police Files Jeremy BishopLBPD 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.

In January 2018, three male suspects were arrested. They subsequently pled guilty and were sentenced this week to the following charges:

Jeremy Bishop, 37, Ontario, was charged with assault with means likely to produce great bodily injury and sentenced to 180 days in jail and formal probation. Daniel Little, 28, Prescott Valley, Ariz., was found guilty of assault and battery and sentenced to 120 days in jail and formal probation. Joshua Little, 28, Prescott Valley, Ariz., was charged with assault with means likely to produce great bodily injury and sentenced to two years in prison and mandatory Post-Release Community Supervision (PRCS).

“This was the culmination of excellent police work coupled with a steadfast determination by our investigations unit to apprehend the offenders,” said Capt Jeff Calvert in a statement.

Suspected drug dealer caught hanging around North Laguna with Ecstasy, coke, and shrooms

On Tuesday, July 24, officers conducted a vehicle stop in the 200 block of Aster Street following an illegal turning violation just after midnight. Officers contacted the driver and passenger. Both from Banning, they denied being on probation or parole. 

A records search was conducted and it was learned that the driver, Matthew Schelin, 28, was indeed on probation.

He subsequently consented to a vehicle search.

Police Files Schelin“He was searched and a large amount of cash was located inside his wallet in smaller denominations,” said LBPD spokesperson PIO Sgt Jim Cota.

According to Sgt Cota, he stated that he sells items on Amazon and [has] two Airbnb homes.

LBPD had reason to believe he was selling more than this.

“Ten Vicodin pills were located under the front driver’s seat that were not prescribed to him. In the rear passenger compartment was a dark backpack,” Sgt Cota said. “Inside the front pouch of the backpack were three pieces of psilocybin mushrooms and 29 Ecstasy pills. Inside one of the pockets was a baggie of cocaine.” 

Schelin came clean and stated that the backpack was his. 

He was arrested for possession of a controlled substance for sales twice. He was booked and transported to OCJ, with bail set at $25,000 for both charges.

Another one bites the dust on Third Street hill

On Tuesday, July 24, at 6:16 a.m., at Third Street and Mermaid Street, a large flatbed truck got stuck carrying a heavy load up the hill. Perhaps the idea of an alternate route didn’t cross his mind, obviously not a local. 

The event snarled traffic for an hour, prompting a Nixle alert from LBPD.

Stu News photographer Mary Hurlbut saw said truck in action, well, actually, inaction. 

Police Files Third Street

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Photo by Mary Hurlbut

Another one bites the dust on Third Street

“I saw the guy drive by with the very long, car transportation trailer, and I couldn’t believe he thought he could go up Third,” Hurlbut said. “Of course, he got stuck.”

“A large tow truck had to respond and was able to remove the truck,” said Jordan Villwock, LBPD Spokesperson and Emergency Services Coordinator.

When asked how prevalent Third Street “truck/bus stucks” are, Villwock stated, “My guess would be 1-2 times per year.”


Police Files

Alleged purse thief who attacked mom and her family in Laguna brought down

On Saturday, July 28, at 10:05 p.m., a male, later identified as 25-year-old James Michael Kelley, from San Bernardino, was walking southbound on Coast Highway in Laguna Beach. 

According to reports, as Kelley approached a family that was walking northbound on Coast Highway, he knocked the mother to the ground and took her purse. 

“The woman’s teenage son grabbed Kelley’s legs in an attempt to trip him. As the suspect lost his balance, he turned and struck the teenager with a black metal flashlight,” Laguna Beach Police Department PIO Sgt Jim Cota said.

“The woman’s husband chased after Kelley who had fled southbound on the sidewalk. When he caught up and confronted him, Kelley struck the husband in the head with the flashlight, causing a large cut,” Sgt Cota continued.

“Kelley then entered a white vehicle parked nearby and accelerated in reverse toward the husband and a nearby witness, before pulling the vehicle out onto South Coast Highway and fleeing northbound,” Sgt Cota said.

Shortly thereafter, a Laguna Beach Police officer located Kelley’s vehicle in north Laguna Beach. The vehicle initially yielded for the officer. However, when the officer attempted to hold the suspect at gunpoint, Kelley again fled. 

A pursuit was initiated and continued into Newport Beach. The Newport Beach Police Department assisted and placed spike strips on Coast Highway near Bayside Drive, deflating all four tires. 

Kelley was taken into custody without incident. The weapon was located and one of the victim’s credit cards was also found in the vehicle. Kelley was booked for robbery, assault with a deadly weapon, and reckless evading of a police officer.

Cota added that the family was on vacation in Laguna Beach from a small town in the Bay Area of North California when tragedy struck.

Bail was set at $100,000.

Fire Files

LBFD commends Brian Adams for graduating from Firefighter’s Paramedic School

LBFD congratulates and recognizes Firefighter Brian Adams for his recent successful completion of Paramedic School at Saddleback Community College. This process started for Firefighter Adams seven months ago and included three months of didactic classroom, two months of clinical shifts at a local trauma center and 576 hours of ride-out shift with OCFA at Station 19. 

Police Files Brian Adams

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Photos courtesy of LBFD

LBFD firefighter Brian Adams, seen here with his baby Rown on Father Day’s, graduated from Firefighter’s Paramedic School

Once Firefighter Adams becomes a Nationally Registered Paramedic, he will be working in the capacity of a Firefighter Paramedic at Station 1. Firefighter Adams’ paramedic training and position was funded through Measure LL. Once certified he will be one of 23 Paramedics in the Laguna Beach Fire Department.

Police Files Firefighters Congratulate

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Adams is congratulated be his fellow LBFD firefighters


Police Files

Keep your dogs on leashes, reminds LBPD

The City of Laguna Beach wants to remind residents that dogs are prohibited on city and county beaches between the hours of 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. for the summer through September 10, and also that dogs must be on leashes at all times in public places.

Dogs in Laguna must be leashed at all times, but lately we’ve been getting complaints about unleashed dogs on beaches and in parks,” said the City in a statement. “LBPD is committed to strictly enforcing its ordinance relating to dogs on leashes. Fines will be administered to those found in violation of the ordinance. Please keep your dog on a leash!”

Police Files dog on leash

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Photo by Mary Hurlbut 

Leash up or pay, says LBPD

“During this time, dogs can be on the beach before 9 a.m. and after 6 p.m. provided they are on a leash no longer than six feet in length,” said LBPD Civilian Services Administrator Jim Beres. “Dogs must always be on a leash no longer than six feet in length in all public areas including city parks and some of the City’s nature trails that allow dogs provided they are on a leash no longer than six feet in length.”

Residents are encouraged to check the signs posted at the beginning of each trailhead, which indicate whether dogs are allowed on that trail.

 Dogs are never allowed off leash at any time on city and county beaches.  Additionally, per county policy, dogs are not allowed at Thousand Steps beach throughout the year – that means never, at anytime.

Dogs are allowed off leash only at the City’s Dog Park located at 20672 Laguna Canyon Road. 

Police Files No Dogs

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Photo by OC Parks 

Canines can get big fines for roaming free without a leash…except at the City’s “Bark Park”

“The Police Department receives many complaints from citizens regarding unleashed dogs and in response to these complaints, the City is committed to strictly enforcing its ordinance relating to dogs on leashes,” Beres said. 

Fines will be administered for those found in violation of the ordinance.

If you have any questions about the ordinance relating to dogs in Laguna Beach, please contact Jim Beres, LBPD Civilian Services Administrator at (949) 464-6669.

Womans throws milk at officer

On Tuesday, Aug 7, at 10:53 a.m., LBPD officers were dispatched to the Village Mart parking lot, at North Coast Highway and Broadway Street, amidst reports of vandalism. The alleged victim had been driving her car by the area when a female reportedly threw a large rock at her vehicle, a 2011 GMC Denali, shattering the windshield and causing dents on the roof.

While one officer was speaking with the alleged victim, another officer was standing with the suspect Stephanie Marie Monge, 31, of Santee, who allegedly became violent.

According to LBPD Spokesperson PIO Sgt Jim Cota, “Without any warning or provocation, Monge threw a bottle of milk at the officer which hit him in the face and chest. An LBPD officer struggled with Monge briefly to handcuff her and once she was handcuffed she began spitting at them and trying to kick them.

“She was transported to LBPD for booking. Once at the station, she continued to be uncooperative and the decision was made to transport her directly to OCJ,” said Sgt Cota.

Monge was arrested for felony vandalism of $400 or more, throwing substances at a vehicle with intent of causing great bodily injury, and battery of a police officer.

“No officers or the suspect were injured during the altercation,” said Sgt Cota.

Bail was set at $20,000.

DUI Checkpoint is on August 18

LBPD will be conducting a DUI/Drivers License Checkpoint on Saturday, Aug 18 at an undisclosed location within the city limits between the hours of 9 p.m. to 3 a.m.

California has seen a disturbing increase in drug-impaired driving crashes. LBPD supports the new effort from the Office of Traffic Safety that aims to educate all drivers that “DUI Doesn’t Just Mean Booze.” 

“If you take prescription drugs, particularly those with a driving or operating machinery warning on the label, you might be impaired enough to get a DUI,” LBPD Lieutenant Tim Kleiser said. “Marijuana can also be impairing, especially in combination with alcohol or other drugs, and can result in a DUI.”

The deterrent effect of High Visibility Enforcement using both DUI checkpoints and DUI Saturation Patrols has proven to lower the number of persons killed and injured in alcohol or drug impaired crashes. 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. 

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. 

In 2016, LBPD kicked off a “Know Your Limits” campaign to help reduce DUIs. In 2015, there were 389 DUI arrests and in 2016 that number dropped significantly to 307.

PF DUI Costs

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Courtesy of DMV.org 

Hand over your keys if you’re impaired or take keys away from impaired drivers

LBPD offers these reminders to ensure you have a safe night of fun that doesn’t involve a DUI:

--Decide before you go out whether you plan to drink or drive. You can’t do both.

--If you plan to drink, designate a sober driver before going out or map out another safe way to get home by taxi, ride-share or public transportation. You can also look up designated driver services in your area using the National Directory of Designated Driver Services (NDDDS).

--See your friend or other patron impaired trying to get behind the wheel? Take the keys and help them make other arrangements to get where they are going safely.

--Report drunk drivers – Call 911.

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) is partnering with law enforcement nationwide during the 2018 Labor Day “Drive Sober or Get Pulled Over” high-visibility enforcement campaign from August 15 through September 3.

Drug-impaired driving is a problem across the country. Like drunk driving, drugged driving is impaired driving, which means it is dangerous and illegal. Whether the drug is legally prescribed or illegal, driving while drug-impaired poses a threat to the driver, vehicle passengers, and other road users.

NHTSA wants to spread the word about drug-impaired driving and to remind all drivers: If you are impaired by drugs and thinking about driving, pass your keys on to a sober driver.

Funding for this DUI operation is provided to the LBPD 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,” it could save lives. 

For more information, contact LBPD 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

Rollover Range Rover, careening drunk driver hits Audi, flipping on impact 

On Wednesday, June 6 at 9:30 p.m., LBPD police and fire personnel responded to South Coast Highway at Mountain Street for the report of a rollover vehicle collision. Emergency personnel arrived and found that a Range Rover, which had been traveling southbound on Coast Highway, had struck an unoccupied parked Audi.

“The impact from the collision caused the Range Rover to flip onto its side. The driver of the Range Rover was extracted from the car,” LBPD Spokesperson PIO Sgt Jim Cota said. “She was not injured but was visibly intoxicated.”

The inebriated 51-year-old woman, a Laguna Beach resident, was charged with her first DUI. Because of the collision both southbound lanes of South Coast Highway were closed, and traffic was diverted to Glenneyre Street for one hour, according to LBPD. Bail was set at $2,500.

Police Files Crash

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Courtesy of LBPD Facebook Page

Local intoxicated 51-year-old woman is arrested for DUI when she rolls over her Range Rover in a collision with a parked Audi

Egg on his face, adult male arrested on outstanding warrant after allegedly throwing eggs at cars

On Monday, June 4 at 1:54 a.m. at the 200 Block of Oak Street, a local man was busted by local LBPD after reports that he and his buddies, all adult males, were throwing eggs at vehicles. What sounds to be reminiscent of a coming of age movie by filmmaker John Hughes, his story was not so “Pretty in Pink.” 

Rather Cory Robert Richins, 31, of Laguna Beach, was more the lead in the male version of “Orange is the New Black” as two of his co-stars went free, for egging and pegging cars on Anita Street and Glenneyre Street, while Richins was arrested on an outstanding OC warrant. Bail was set at $5,000.

Fire Files

LBFD quickly extinguishes several brush fires near Laguna Canyon Road Wednesday

Less than five days after the Aliso Canyon fire started, LBFD sprang to action and quickly put out several brush fires near Laguna Canyon Road Wednesday.

LBFD, LBPD, and OCFA all received the call at 5 p.m. on Wednesday of multiple spot fires burning in heavy brush. 

LBPD Spokesperson PIO Sgt Jim Cota said, “We received reports of a vegetation fire, burning in heavy brush, on NB Laguna Canyon Road between the 73 and 133. There was no immediate threat to the city.”

Police Files New Fires

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Courtesy of LBPD Facebook Page

Several fires ignited near NB Laguna Canyon Road Wednesday

OCFA reported a 1-acre blaze with multiple spot fires, and that no structures were being threatened. At 5:28 p.m., they reported three separate fires in the area.

“Laguna Fire had two helicopters and ground crews doing an excellent job at slowing down the fire with a dozer working to cut a containment line around heavy brush,” according to OCFA PIO.

By 5:50 p.m. forward progress had been stopped for all three fires and fixed wing aircraft was cancelled and the fires were put out by 6:15 p.m. 

“Fire crews remained on scene for hotspots and assessment of the area,” Sgt Cota said.

Laguna Canyon Road was closed between Lake Forest Drive and El Toro Road while firefighters battled the blaze. Both directions of Laguna Canyon Road were open by 8:15 p.m.

According to OCFA, “It is not yet clear what started the fires.” OCFA investigators remained on scene, researching the cause.

Friday is the goal for 100% containment of Aliso Fire

LBPD Spokesperson PIO Sgt Jim Cota had good news about the Aliso Canyon Fire being close to completely contained on Thursday.

 “The containment remains at 85 percent and is expected to be at 90 percent by 6 p.m. today,” Sgt Cota said. “There are currently 91 firefighters assigned to the area to finish the job till they reach 100 percent containment. The goal is to be finished by Friday afternoon.”

On Twitter Thursday, OCFA PIO reported the recent incorporation of new remote cameras to assist in discovering potential fires in rural areas that could have a lengthy response time. “The three allows us to pinpoint an area and send help.” The cameras captured a time-lapsed video before at the site of the Aliso Canyon fires before it started.

Police Files Mop Up Efforts

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Courtesy of OCFA PIO Twitter Page

OCFA mop up efforts for the Aliso Canyon fire to mitigate hot spots

Fire investigators continue to investigate the burn and the surrounding area to determine the cause. The public is being asked to assist if they have any information to help identify the cause of the fire. 

“Anyone with information or any video or photographs taken at the early stages of the fire are asked to contact 1-800-222-TIPS (8477),” urges OCFA PIO.


Police Files

Tragedy strikes twice in Laguna on Saturday: Deaths have community in mourning

Alcohol suspected in fatal car crash on Saturday

On Saturday, July 14 at 8:55 p.m., LBPD and LBFD responded to a fatal injury traffic collision on Coast Highway and Country Club Drive, which resulted in the death of Francisco Rojas, 27, of Murrieta, and injured three other occupants in his vehicle, including his girlfriend, 22, and two children, ages 13 and 3, one confirmed to be his child.

 According to a LBPD investigation, Laguna Beach resident Marshall Glen Eichenauer, Jr., 57, was driving his Chevrolet Avalanche north on Coast Highway, near Aliso Beach, when he broadsided a Nissan Altima that was making an illegal left turn from Country Club Drive, directly in front of him.

LBPD Spokesperson PIO Sgt Jim Cota said Eichenauer, the surviving driver, a South Laguna resident, was arrested on suspicion of DUI.

“Eichenauer displayed symptoms of alcohol intoxication. A DUI investigation was conducted and he was subsequently arrested for DUI. He consented to a blood test and we are awaiting results,” Sgt Cota said.

The results should be in within a week or so. 

The traffic collision investigation is still underway. LBPD traffic officers will be working with the OCDA’s office for the possible filing of charges. 

Coast Highway was closed for over four hours near the accident scene.

Eichenauer is the founder and president of a wealth management firm, Sagent Wealth Management, LLC located in Laguna Beach.

Swimmer dies despite rescue efforts at Thousand Steps Beach on Saturday

On Saturday, July 14 at 10:45 a.m., LBPD, LBFD and Marine Safety lifeguards responded to an unconscious swimmer pulled from the water at Thousand Steps Beach. 

“Lifeguards performed CPR and the person is unresponsive so far. Mercy Air is en route for transportation,” said Sgt Cota, as rescue efforts were occurring on Saturday.

Polices Files 7 17 18

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Courtesy of LBPD

OCFA helicopter Mercy Air takes an unresponsive swimmer in dire condition to Mission Hospital

“Our lifeguards responded to a victim in distress at 10:45 a.m. this morning [Saturday] and that person in the course of the rescue went unconscious and was not breathing,” said Jason Young, OC Lifeguards Chief. “Lifeguards were able to get him [the victim] to shore and extricate him up to the beach with the help of some bystanders. Our lifeguard personnel responded as well as fire.” 

Chief Young added, “Our lifeguards got to him, he was obviously struggling when the lifeguards got to him but he was alive.” 

A Mercy Air helicopter transported the victim to Mission Hospital Mission Viejo, where he was pronounced dead.

According to sources, the man was identified as Brian Riggs, 52, of Aliso Viejo.

“As far as the cause of what led up to the patient’s condition, the cause of death, I don’t think the coroner even knows that yet, they have to conduct their investigation,” Chief Young added.

“It’s very traumatic for the lifeguards that got to him. We obviously hoped for a different outcome,” Chief Young said. “We are taking care of our guards, we debrief with them and will be doing an after incident action review and looking at all the details. Getting help for anyone who needs it.”


Fire Files

Fire burns 175 acres of wilderness, injures 3 firefighters, and prompts evacuations…but thanks to our fire and emergency personnel, we are all safe

LBFD took quick actions to safeguard Laguna Beach residents after a fire broke out in Aliso & Wood Canyons Wilderness Park, right in our backyard, on Saturday afternoon.

“We were notified, and our crews went to the Top of the World and began to set up in case the fire extended to the homes,” Laguna Beach Fire Chief Mike Garcia said. “They were joined by other companies due to the threat, and we had approximately 15 Engine companies in our neighborhood.

Fire Files City of Aliso Viejo

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Courtesy of City of Aliso Viejo

Aliso Fire raging on Saturday late afternoon

By 3:56 p.m. on Saturday, Laguna Beach Fire Department ordered immediate evacuation of approximately 1,500 Laguna Beach residents in the Top of the World and Old Top of the World areas due to fire danger. 

“With our Fire Department’s deep knowledge of the drainage patterns, canyon topography and wind behaviors in the fire area we quickly identified homes that could be in the path of fire and took immediate action to get those residents out,” said Chief Garcia.

The City set up a temporary shelter for displaced residents at the Susi Q Community Center where some residents stayed overnight Saturday. Pets were allowed as well. 

 “The City sincerely wants to thank all of the residents who evacuated their homes for their cooperation during the Aliso Fire emergency,” said Laguna Beach City Manager John Pietig. “As one of the residents evacuated this weekend, I know it is not easy to pick up and leave your home at a moment’s notice, not knowing when you’ll be able to return. We want to thank everyone who evacuated for their diligence and patience.”

According to Thanh Nguyen, public information officer of the Orange County Incident Management Team, the fire, which originated in Aliso & Wood Canyons Wilderness Park, spread quickly from one acre to 175 acres due to winds, hillside pitch and drought conditions.

Fire Files Scott Burn

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Photo by Scott Brashier

The Aliso Fire burned 175 acres of wilderness

“The weather pattern that we’ve had for the past several days – in the morning it’s fairly calm and in the afternoons it picks up – that’s what got this fire going. That in combination with the topography. You have steep hillsides. If the fire starts at the bottom, the heat moves upward, so that when the fire actually gets to it (the base of the hillside), it takes off really easily. And then, the drought situation doesn’t help with the fuel moisture so that vegetation lights up pretty fast.”

The cause of the fire is currently under investigation.

“At this time our investigators are still out at the scene and we don’t have a conclusive cause (of the fire) yet. We’re asking for the public’s assistance if they were in or around the area at the time the fire started, to contact the Tip Line at 1.800.222.TIPS (8477),” said Nguyen.

Thankfully, no structures were lost, although the fire did come extremely close to Soka University, said Nguyen. “With firefighters on the scene fairly quickly, they were able to stop the forward progression.”

Fire Files Scott Plane

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Photo by Scott Brashier

Two air tankers circled the fire with retardant all day Saturday, followed by helicopters attacking the middle with water drops

However, three firefighters suffered injuries. “One was taken off the line, but did not go to the hospital. The second one did go to the hospital to be evaluated – their injuries were minor. The third one on Monday was out on the line – I don’t know the extent of that person’s injury either, however, he was airlifted to the hospital via OCFA helicopter,” said Nguyen.

As of Monday, according to Chief Garcia, there are currently 525 firefighters still assigned to the fire, which on Tuesday, June 5 at 7:45 a.m., was 75 percent contained after burning 175 acres. The Orange County Fire Authority and Orange County Parks, 85 engines, two helicopters, four bulldozers and nine hand crews have been working to contain the fire, rotating shifts in 24-hour increments.

“The response to the Aliso Fire was a well-coordinated partnership between the Laguna Beach Fire Department, Orange County Fire Authority, CalFire, many assisting local municipalities and all Laguna Beach City Departments,” Garcia said. “I want to especially thank the Laguna Beach Police Department for helping evacuate people to safety, and also thank our affected residents who remained calm and refused to panic.”

Fire Files Mike Jarnot OCFA

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Courtesy of Mike Jarnot OCFA

OCFA was integral in fighting the Aliso Woods Canyon Fire

It is unknown at this time how much wildlife was lost.

Hallie Jones, Executive Director of Laguna Canyon Foundation, said, “Fire is a natural part of the wilderness ecosystems, and while the immediate habitat impacts are severe, the park will recover.

“Here at Laguna Canyon Foundation, we’re so grateful to our park rangers and first responders for protecting the homes and people.”

She said the best thing the community can do is to stay away from the park, which will be closed until further notice while the fire crews extinguish any last hot spots or smoldering brush.

“Let the rangers do their job and let the land heal. Footprints and bike tracks will just cause more damage,” Jones said.

Once the park opens, LCF volunteers will work with OC Parks to keep people out of the burned area and educate visitors.

Longtime Laguna TOW resident Sande Werthe evacuated “after the search lady came running by” and she “received a phone call from the police department to evacuate”, she said. It was her 80th birthday on Sunday.

After she was evacuated, Werthe went to Laguna Presbyterian Church and listened as to the choir as they rehearsed for an upcoming concert. Pastor Jerry Tankersley and his wife were evacuated too since they live nearby.

Fire Files City of Laguna Beach

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Courtesy of City of Laguna Beach

The aftermath of the fire, looking out from Top of the World

 “The Susi Q really did a wonderful job of organizing. I was so impressed. I finally got back to my place at 2:30 p.m. and went to a friend’s house who made a Mexican dinner for my birthday. After that I finally got to put my feet up and relax,” Werthe said. 

She was also in the same neighborhood during the fire in ‘93 for the fire and was forced to evacuate.

“My house was in escrow and my mom lived alone nearby. We were concerned we’d lose both houses. I kept calling my answering machine and every time it picked up I thought everything was still fine,” Werthe said. “I did the same thing this time and sang happy birthday to myself. It’s a birthday I will never forget.” 

She, like other community members, lauded the hard working personnel behind the evacuations.

“I can’t stress enough how wonderful the City was and the great job the people at the Susi Q did checking people in and making them feel comfortable, Werthe said. “It’s one way to meet the neighbors, but definitely not the best way.”

Denis Cambruzzi, a Laguna Beach resident since the ‘80s was here during the 1993 fire on Mountain View Drive. 

“We were fortunate to keep ours,” he said referring to his and his wife’s home on Mountain View Drive,” Cambruzzi said.

There was no comparison between the fear he felt this time around and during the ’93 fire, he said.

“That one was scary, during fire season and propelled by the dry hot winds but, began much further away. The winds blew smoke in our direction all day and by evening the fire followed,” Cambruzzi said.

This one began very close and only got scary for about an hour, he said.

“And then these pilots put it down. Hitting it from all sides with fire retardant and water from planes and helicopters. They flew into and thankfully out of that canyon countless times. Brown smoke followed by the victorious white plumes,” Cambruzzi said. “Truly amazing. The firefighters on the ground were also braving the inferno hand to hand with shovels, axes, and chain saws.”

Jean Keyes from deck at Bluebird Canyon

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Photo by Jean Keyes

The path of one airplane, as seen from Jean Keyes’ home in Bluebird Canyon

Sawdust artist September McGee was walking in the park when she learned that they were being evacuated on Saturday.

“I was looking at the birds in the trees and the sky looked clear,” she said. 

It didn’t look as clear on the other side.

“I live half way down Bern Street and they were ready for us to roll. Then they went back up the hill and backed off. So luckily, we didn’t have to leave. But it’s important to give kudos for everyone involved, they did a very good job,” McGee said. “The evacuations were very organized.”

“I knew that with the birds still singing in the trees that it’s going to be fine. It’s a good sign. After all, they know more than we do,” Mc Gee added.

See more photos from the scene by staff photographer Scott Brashier

Click on photos for larger images 


Police Files

Human smuggling strikes at Crystal Cove, second Panga boat since June 11, El Morro goes on lockdown

On Tuesday, June 19 at 6:31 a.m., LBPD received a call from California State Parks in reference to a Panga boat landing at Crystal Cove State Park, the second in just a little over a week. The boat’s passengers had fled the scene. 

LBPD worked alongside the US Customs and Border Patrol and the State of California Department of Parks and Recreations with assistance from the Orange County Sheriff’s Department helicopter and US Coast Guard. The involved agencies conducted a thorough search of the wilderness area of the state park and located and detained four adult male subjects, who were detained by the US Customs and Border Patrol.

Police Files Panga 1

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Courtesy of LBPD

LBPD helps out other emergency agencies and US Customs and Border Patrol as a second smuggling event happens, causing a lockdown at El Morro Elementary

Out of caution, El Morro Elementary School was placed on a lockdown. Parents and buses were allowed to drop off students at the school, who were then provided an escort to their classroom. Laguna Beach Police Department kept officers on campus throughout the incident. Shortly before 10 a.m. the lockdown was lifted and normal operations resumed.

Theron Francisco, a public affairs officer for the San Diego Customs and Border Protection sector, talked with Stu News about the incident.

“It hasn’t been confirmed but it is probably associated with the same Pan-National smuggling organization [as the June 11 incident, also at Crystal Cove],” Francisco said.

He said most of the smuggling operations are coming from Rosarito or Ensenada, that part of Mexico, just South of Tijuana.

 “For the most part, they want to try to come to shore or drop off as close as possible to Tijuana, or just north of the boundary,” Francisco said. “It’s closer, it’s faster, and it’s cheaper for their operation as far as gas, manpower and the boat.”

He said ideally these operations would like to drop off somewhere in San Diego along the coastal regions of San Diego. 

“But as enforcement gets greater they’re forced to go further north and so that’s where we’re kind of seeing them going up more north toward Laguna Beach and the area where they were just last spotted this week,” Francisco said.

When they do make apprehensions, everybody that’s apprehended is interviewed. 

“If we do get the captain of the vessel or the smuggler caught within the group, he or she will be charged with alien smuggling and endangerment, and the rest of the individuals on the boat will face immigration charges unless they have anything outstanding as far as criminal charges,” Francisco said. “They can face additional charges on that.” 

Police Files Panga 2

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Courtesy of LBPD

US Customs and Border Patrol think that the June 11 human smuggling incident and the June 19 incident at Crystal Cove are related, five still outstanding

No substantial evidence is usually left behind on the boats. They will leave empty cans of fuel, water, lifejackets, trash, food they might not eat or wet clothes. 

“But as far as personal items, identification, foreign passports and all that is usually kept with them,” Francisco said. “For the most part they have minimal belongings, usually a backpack or some type of bag. They will not leave anything personal with them. They carry minimal items with them just because it keeps down the weight on the boat and something that if they do land on the beach they can run off with just the backpack or the bag.”

Regarding Tuesday’s incident, initially four men were apprehended with five still outstanding, he said.

“I haven’t gotten the update whether the five were apprehended later on or if any were apprehended later on,” Francisco said.

He doesn’t believe drugs were involved in this case. 

“This one was just suspected as alien or human smuggling. We don’t believe it was connected to a drug smuggling,” Francisco said. “Even though they both will kind of go hand-in hand; we believe both of them were human smuggling. Again, that hasn’t been confirmed and I would have to look into the case once that’s done to see if anything is different from the interviews from those who were arrested.”

LBPD bands together helping Marine get undrivable car back to Camp Pendleton, officer pays for his tow home out of his own pocket

Once again, LBPD gives a hand for the sake of helping others. On Wednesday, June 20 at 7:28 p.m., LBPD officers were dispatched to the 3200 block of Laguna Canyon Road with a report of a stranded vehicle. The owner of the vehicle was an active U.S. Marine stationed at Camp Pendleton. 

The vehicle, a black 2014 Chevy Impala, was undriveable.

“The owner did not have sufficient funds to have it towed. Officers used their personal AAA privileges to have the vehicle towed part of the way and paid the $333 balance to have it towed the remaining distance to Camp Pendleton,” LBPD Spokesperson PIO Sgt Jim Cota said. 

It’s always good to know someone has your back, especially for having the country’s back every day as a Marine. Thanks for serving.

Police Files Marine

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Courtesy of LBPD

LBPD officers, including Wade Kraus, help a Marine with his disabled Impala, covering the cost to have it towed back to Camp Pendleton

Gun found in cave at Thousand Steps Beach

On Sunday, June 17 at 9:10 a.m., at the 31900 block of Coast Highway, a man reported to LBPD that he found a revolver, a Taurus .38 special, in the sound end of the beach in the sand. The man hid the gun in a cup unit he could meet with LBPD. He was unsure if it was loaded.

“He telephoned police who took custody of it. Detectives are reaching to agencies to see if this weapon was used or suspected in any crime,” LBPD Spokesperson PIO Sgt Jim Cota said.

So not Laguna, Montage gets tagged twice by “KEV(AN)”

On Monday, June 18 at 5:04 p.m., in the 30800 block of Coast Highway, LBPD received a report of vandalism (tagging) at Treasure Island Park at Montage Laguna Beach.

“The reporting person was Montage Security who reported that two separate benches were spray painted on one side with “KC” and “KEVAN” and other illegible letters,” LBPD Spokesperson PIO Sgt Jim Cota said. “The estimated cost to repair is $150.”

There is no camera surveillance in this area.

The next day, on Tuesday, June 19 at 3:45 p.m., a second vandalism incident was reported to LBPD at Treasure Island Park at the Montage.

“There was random chalk writing on the back of a beach sign that read, “WDS RANDOM SCRIBLE,” Sgt Cota said. “And spray paint on several concrete trash cans that read, “FMK”, “TAZ”, “ANYOS”, and “KEV.”

 According to Sgt Cota, Montage Laguna Beach will be responsible for maintenance, which is estimated at $5,000-$6,000.


Police Files

Teen boy rescued and airlifted from Emerald Bay Beach after boulder severs his arm

In a tragic accident, a 15-year-old boy was struck by a boulder, severing his arm and pinning him against the rocks at Emerald Bay Beach on Wednesday, July 18. He was airlifted to UC Irvine Medical Center in serious medical condition but is expected to survive. 

Local and county emergency services quickly responded to the teen who was walking along the rocks about 100 feet offshore at Emerald Bay Beach with a friend.

Orange County Fire Authority spokesperson PIO Capt Tony Bommarito said that he thinks the boy could be a local. 

Police Files Rescue 1

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Courtesy of LBPD

A teen loses his arm in tragic accident walking the rocks at Emerald Bay Beach; rescuers came fast airlifting him to UCI Medical Center

“His friend said that they’ve walked the area before. And his mom was with him. I can only speculate that they are [locals] unless they are a guest of someone,” Capt Bommarito said.

He explained that the boys were walking on the rocks along the waterline at the bottom of the cliffs. Basically along the waterline climbing up and down the rocks that were there, not scaling the cliffs or anything.

“His friend was with him. They were walking and a boulder came down about the size of a cooler, 400-500 pounds coming down. Hit him, knocked him down and basically landed on his right arm and severed his right arm in between his elbow and shoulder,” Capt Bommarito said.

 At the same time, he said the teen was knocked backwards and his foot got stuck in a crevice or a rock. They had to move the boulder so they could get him dislodged from where he was stuck.

“There’s no damage to his foot; it just kind of got lodged and they couldn’t get him out of it until they moved the boulder that cut off his arm,” Capt Bommarito said.

LBFD Engine 201 was integral in saving his life.

“They had what are called rescue airbags or heavy rescue airbags. They’re real flat, but we can stick them under things and in really small spaces, and we expand them with an air bottle,” Capt Bommarito said. 

The devices can lift thousands of pounds.

“They got the rock up enough so they were able to push it free from him and get him dislodged,” Capt Bommarito said. “They put him in a rescue basket, the OC helicopter came over, lowered the cable down and lifted him up into the helicopter and they went to UCI in serious condition.”

When asked how the teen was found and quickly rescued he said, “He started screaming or his friend started screaming which alerted the OC Parks lifeguards and one or two of them went over there, they put a tourniquet on his arm. That probably helped save his life, really.”

Police Files Rescue 2

Click on photo for a larger image

Courtesy of LBPD

Teen is expected to survive because of the quick response of local and county emergency agencies

Asked about a timeline of the events, Capt Bommarito said, “The fire department got the call at 3:20 p.m. He was extricated and being flown out at 4:01 p.m. I am thinking about 50 minutes total from the time of injury to when he was loaded into the helicopter.”

As of 4:30 p.m. Thursday, he said he hadn’t heard any updates about the teen’s condition. He went to the hospital on Thursday morning to check on him but was unable to see him.

Asking if he’ll be ok, he responded, “He’s going to live.” 

As for safety precautions in that situation for beachgoers or adventurers, he said there are really none. 

“You have to assume if you’re walking along a cliff that it’s unstable and unsafe until proven otherwise. And nobody is proving that it is, so you’ve just got to be cautious. Somehow you’ve got to be cautious,” Capt Bommarito said. “I’ve been a firefighter for 28 years. What it sounds like is just a fluke accident.”

He wanted to thank all the agencies involved in the rescue calling it a collaborative effort, which included OC Parks Lifeguards, LBFD and Orange County Fire Authority.

Large barge parks it at Thousand Steps Beach

On Wednesday, July 18, a large barge was spotted beached at Thousand Steps Beach. Stu News reader reports started coming in around 9 a.m. asking us what this barge was doing landing on our beach.

Stu News looked into the matter.

Greg Pfost, City of Laguna Beach Community Development Director, had some answers.

He explained that the barge was connected to a private residential project that is under construction at Thousand Steps Beach. The property has two structures, including a guest house right on the sand, and then it has a house further up the slope. 

“The house that’s on the sand has been deteriorating so the homeowner received approval from the City to remodel the lower structure that’s on the sand,” Pfost said. “We don’t have a lot of structures on the sand but that one is so they got approval from the City to refurbish the house because it’s falling apart.”

The City submitted the approval for the owner.

“The contractor, he worked out with this barge company to bring materials to the site off this barge because it would have been very difficult to deliver the materials, including steel, which is very heavy, from Coast Highway,” Pfost said. “There’s this steep slope and there’s no good way to get down Thousand Steps Beach.”

The only other option would have been to use a crane and crane it in, but that would have been more expensive and cost prohibitive. 

Police Files Barge

Click on photo for a larger image

Photo by Jim Peasley

A large barge at Thousand Steps Beach causes a stir among locals

“So they contracted this barge company. It’s the same barge company that was used by South Coast Water District years ago; they used the barge as part of their tunnel rehab project,” Pfost said.

The barge first made a trip on June 18 to bring in materials to the home site and this was the second trip, which was to remove materials.

The homeowner needed authorization from three agencies to move forward with their barge. The ocean is regulated by California Coastal Commission, the sand is a County beach in this case, and the home itself is on Laguna Beach land. 

“What I made sure before this barge had any authorization to land is that they had County Parks’ approval because they were landing on their beach. They got approval from OC Parks,” Pfost said. “I also let them know they were arriving in waters and needed Cal Coastal Commission, and they got approval from the Coastal Commission.” 

So they were able to land because they secured all of the authorizations from the agencies they needed. Aliso Fish & Wildlife was involved in the review as well.

The only other barge landing in recent history is the one he recalled earlier involving the South Coast Water District. 

Stu News reader Brett Keast shared a memory from the 1970s of a barge landing at Three Arch, although that area was not incorporated as part of Laguna Beach at the time. 

“Back in the early ‘70s my dad had a military barge land at Three Arch to bring in equipment and build volleyball courts and bathrooms,” he said.

Even with these three known barge landings over the past decades, none have been on a Laguna Beach City beach. 

“To my knowledge there have been no barge landings on City beaches,” said Pfost.

Do you have any interesting Laguna Beach barge or boat stories to share? Submit with details and photos to This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

Bad mix: pills, $100 bills, coke, and meth land Tustin woman in jail

On Tuesday, July 17 at 6:49 p.m., LBPD conducted a vehicle stop in the 900 block of Glenneyre Street near Thalia Street. According to LBPD PIO Sgt Jim Cota, officers contacted a female, identified as Tustin resident Dianna Tateyama, 55. 

“She was shaking and jittery as officers spoke to her. Officers observed a pill bottle of Ciprofloxacin, 15 pills, on the passenger side seat that was prescribed to Victor Hernandez,” Sgt Cota said. “She claimed the pills were hers and she did not know Victor Hernandez. This was a violation.”

Police Files TateyamaCiprofloxacin is an antibiotic used to treat bacterial infections.

Tateyama consented to a search of her vehicle. Inside the center console were three narcotic pipes and two empty baggies containing cocaine and methamphetamine. 

According to Sgt Cota, a female officer observed a clear plastic baggie hanging out of her bra. A search of the bra revealed two $100 bills and three small plastic baggies. Inside the baggies were cocaine and methamphetamine. Inside her wallet was $528.00 in cash. The baggies of narcotics were individually packaged with 4 grams of narcotics each. 

Tateyama was arrested and booked on four felony charges: possession of a controlled substance for sales, transporting a controlled substance on a highway, possession of a controlled substance, and sales of a controlled substance. 

Bail was set at $25,000.

Unknown substance sprayed on City Trolley, causing temporary panic

According to LBPD, on Thursday, July 19 at 4:24 p.m., officers responded to Laguna Avenue and South Coast Highway to a report of someone spraying an unknown chemical on a City Trolley. 

“Several people on the City Trolley reported they were coughing and having difficulty breathing,” Sgt Cota said. “As the investigation continued it was determined someone may have sprayed something by mistake, possibly sunscreen.” 

LBFD responded as well and found no caustic agent or anything suspicious. 

“Allegedly there were five people who were experiencing irritation after someone allegedly sprayed some sort of unknown substance on the trolley,” LBFD Chief Ed Valdez said. “There were two fire trucks and one ambulance that responded – a total of four paramedics and four EMTs.”

The person who allegedly sprayed the substance was gone upon emergency responders’ arrival. He had gotten off the trolley and walked away, according to witnesses.

The scene was cleared around 5 p.m. as if nothing had happened.

No one was taken to the hospital and all of the trolley riders declined medical attention. Some of the trolley riders even admitted that the symptoms they were feeling could be psychosomatic, induced by thoughts of possibly being harmed. 


Police Files

Uber driver injures passenger, ejecting her from car

On Saturday, June 23 at 6:22 p.m., LBPD received a battery call from a distraught woman in the 20200 block of Laguna Canyon Road, who reported that she had been pushed out of a car by an Uber driver resulting in injuries to her arm and legs. According to police logs, the woman requested medics and waited at the entrance of the park for help to arrive. The Uber driver left about 10 minutes prior to her calling LBPD.

The woman told officers that the Uber ride was requested from a friend’s phone, and that she had information about the reported suspect. He was driving a black 2016 4-door Nissan with both Uber and Lyft stickers. She also gave LBPD his license plate number.

According to LBPD Emergency Operations Coordinator Jordan Villwock, “The Uber driver was driving inbound LCR and reported getting frustrated that his passenger was watching a video on her iPhone.”

“The driver pulled the car over and pulled the female from the vehicle causing some injuries, and complaint of pain,” Villwock said. “The female passenger was not intoxicated.”

According to Villwock, LBPD is forwarding a recommendation to the District Attorney’s Office for charges against the Uber driver.

Fire Files

Fire on Manzanita Saturday prompts neighborhood evacuations

On Saturday, June 23 at 3:44 p.m., LBFD and LBPD were dispatched to a structure fire in the 800 block of Manzanita Drive, just above the high school tennis courts. Emergency services received a call from the residents, who reported that there was heavy smoke in the upstairs bedroom.

LBPD officers arrived first and quickly evacuated the home, along with neighboring homes on all three sides of the primary residence, and blocked off both ends of Manzanita.

The fire was quickly upgraded to a working fire by LBFD, with reports that the fire was spreading and “coming from the rear side.”

Accordingly, evacuations were then quickly made for rear homes on Skyline Drive.

LBFD arrived shortly after and were able to knock down the fire quickly, containing it to a single residence.

Fire Gene Felder

Click on photo for a larger image

Photo by Michael Ellis

Black smoke billowed and flames rose from a home on Manzanita Drive on Saturday afternoon, a scary sight for residents

LBFD Chief Mike Garcia gave a timeline of the fire.

“Time of alarm was 3:44 p.m. and knockdown time was 4:01 p.m.,” Chief Garcia said. “It is estimated the fire started 10 minutes prior to dispatch time and the residents tried to extinguish the fire with multiple fire extinguishers prior to the first 911 call.”

LBFD dispatched a total number of 17 fire personnel, including one Battalion Chief, four LBFS Fire Engines, an ORCO Truck, and one ambulance to the scene.

 “We had a “working fire” assignment coming to the incident but [it] was shortly cancelled,” LBFD Chief Mike Garcia said.

Nine people were displaced from the residence, including seven adults and two minors, as well as two dogs and a pet snake. 

“One of the minor children was medically evaluated on scene for possible smoke exposure concerns; parents signed A.M.A.,” Chief Garcia said.

At 4:04 p.m., the Southern California Gas Company was contacted with an estimated 40 to 45 minute arrival time.

The Red Cross was contacted at 4:17 p.m. to help out the displaced residents.

Fire Johanna Felder

Click on photo for a larger image

Photo by Johanna Ellis

Saturday’s house fire on Manzanita Drive lands a yellow tag designation, deemed “un-habitational” with $125,000 in damages

The fire is estimated to have caused $125,000 in damages to the home and its contents, according to Chief Garcia. The Laguna Beach Building Division red tagged the entire second story along with the deck and the remaining home was yellow tagged for “un-habitational.”

“The cause is unknown and is still under investigation,” Chief Garcia said. 

Luckily, no injuries were reported.

FYI Files

Scoop on La Mirada house “arrest”

Buzzing all over social media…here’s the updated scoop on Saturday’s La Mirada house “arrest.”

On Saturday, June 23 in the morning, a post was made on Nextdoor regarding two people in the 1200 block of La Mirada near Summit being arrested. 

According to the post, “Undercover cops arrested two people at La Mirada near Summit this morning. They gathered some attention while staging at the corner of Ensenada and Miramar...The duo was renting the house and apparently the owners live in New Orleans.”

But the "undercover cops" were not so undercover; they were bail bond agents.

According to LBPD Emergency Operations Coordinator Jordan Villwock, “These were not undercover cops they are private bail enforcement agents who were working on behalf of a bail bonds company and were there to serve two warrants. The company notified us prior to making contact with the subjects. Since we did not make the arrest we don’t have any details on the specific charges or subject’s names.”

“They were working on behalf of a bail bonds company who were following up on individuals evading charges,” LBPD Spokesperson PIO Sgt Jim Cota said. 

“Without confirming their credentials from the company, most personnel that work in this field attend PC 832 courses and get certified in arrest powers and laws of arrest. This course allows civilians the training certificate to make arrests for a bail bonds company,” Sgt Cota said. “Many are known as bounty hunters. This is legal and they work under the umbrella of a bail bonds company.”

Civilians take this course that work for bail bonds companies. The Arrest and Firearms (PC 832) course consists of two components, which total a minimum of 64 hours. The Arrest component has a 40-hour requirement, and the Firearms component has a 24-hour requirement. These components are divided into 14 individual topics, called Learning Domains. 

The Learning Domains contain the minimum required foundational information for given subjects. The training and testing specifications for a particular domain may also include information on required instructional activities and testing requirements.

Sounds like a case of drama ripe for cable, “Bad boys, bad boys, whatcha gonna do when they come for you? Whatcha gonna do when they come for you?”


Police Files

Former LBHS coach, Brian Bishop, arrested on meth and gun charges

On Friday, May 25, former LBHS assistant football coach Brian Jay Bishop, 35, was arrested by the Costa Mesa Police Department on drug and gun charges in Costa Mesa. 

Three men were arrested, two on suspicion of offenses including possession of heroin and methamphetamine, during two traffic stops in Costa Mesa, police said. Bishop was among those taken into custody that day during two separate traffic stops.

Authorities said the arrests occurred Friday after they monitored white supremacist gang members in the city. 

Police did not confirm whether the three are believed to be connected to the gang and did not disclose the gang’s name.

Police Files Brian Bishop

Courtesy of Costa Mesa Police Department

Former LBHS coach Brian Bishop was arrested on several charges including possession of meth for sale and possession of a concealed/loaded gun not registered to him

At approximately 1:30 p.m. that day, Gang Investigators, detectives, and patrol officers conducted a traffic stop along the 2400 block of Newport Boulevard. 

According to authorities, Bishop was arrested for possession of methamphetamine for sale, possession of a concealed/loaded firearm while possessing narcotics, and possession of a firearm when not the registered owner. 

Bishop has since posted bail and was released. 

“He was hired in August 2016 as a walk-on assistant football coach,” Leisa Winston, Assistant Superintendent, Human Resources & Public Communications, Laguna Beach Unified School District said.

Bishop served as LBHS Football’s Offensive Coordinator in 2016, John Shanahan’s first year as head coach. He also served as the freshman/sophomore team head football coach and a track coach.

“Mr. Bishop is no longer employed by LBUSD. His last day of work was Tuesday, May 22,” Winston said. “He indicated to staff he would be moving out of the area.”

Self-driving Tesla crashes, decimating LBPD SUV

On Tuesday, May 29 at 11:07 a.m., officers responded to a report of a traffic collision involving a police vehicle at 20652 Laguna Canyon Road, near Laguna Dog Park. The officer was on a call at the time near where his police vehicle was parked.

“Officers began investigating a two-vehicle traffic collision involving a 2015 Tesla S and an unoccupied Laguna Beach PD unit,” LBPD Spokesperson PIO Sgt Jim Cota said. “We learned from the driver’s statements that he had the Tesla in ‘driver assist’ mode when the vehicle veered off the roadway and crashed into the police vehicle.”

According to Sgt Cota, the driver, a man in his 60s from Laguna Niguel, reported that he was looking at the hillside when the vehicle veered off the roadway and crashed into the police vehicle. 

Police Files Tesla

Click on photo for a larger image

Photo courtesy of LBPD

A man crashed into a parked LBPD SUV while operating his Tesla in ‘driver assist’ mode on Tuesday; luckily, the officer had stepped out of the vehicle before the accident occurred

“He sustained minor injuries and refused transportation to the hospital,” Sgt Cota said. “The police vehicle sustained major damage and the Tesla sustained moderate damage.” The driver, not the Tesla, was placed at fault for the traffic collision, but not cited.   

The LBPD SUV appears to be totaled. LBPD put out a traffic alert warning about the accident warning that there would be delays on outbound Laguna Canyon Road for about an hour.

Car break-ins are rising in Laguna, keep doors locked

LBPD recently issued a press release warning residents that car break-ins are on the rise. On January 27, a victim reported that her vehicle had been burglarized and her purse containing multiple credit cards was stolen. 

LBPD Detectives began their investigation and learned that the victim’s credit cards were used in Laguna Beach and several other cities throughout Orange County. The next day the suspects also attempted to use the victim’s personal information to obtain a credit account at a San Bernardino furniture store.

The lengthy investigation led detectives to San Bernardino County where they identified three suspects in connection with the crime. 

“On May 24, detectives conducted a surveillance operation and subsequently arrested Highland residents Robert James Bird and Amber Lynn Holt for burglary, conspiracy, forgery, and theft of an access card,” Sgt Cota said. “Detectives learned the third suspect, Vincent Razvan Oajdea, was already in custody in Riverside County for an unrelated theft charge.”

Police Files Bird and Holt

Photos courtesy of LBPD

Robert James Bird     Amber Lyn Holt

LBPD Captain Jeff Calvert reminds the community that, “As we approach summer, we ask Laguna Beach residents and visitors to assist us by properly securing their vehicles at all times and to immediately report suspicious activity to the Laguna Beach Police Department.” 

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..

 

LBPD, LBFD, and Laguna Lifeguards enjoy annual Special Olympics Torch Run yesterday

LBPD, LBFD, and Laguna Lifeguards laced up their running shoes for the annual Special Olympics Torch Run yesterday morning at 7:35 a.m. to share their support for Special Olympics athletes on the 5.4-mile run.

Laguna’s trio of public service teams escorted the “Flame of Hope” from the Laguna Beach Police Department to the intersection of Coast Highway and Newport Coast Drive and handed the torch off to The California Highway Patrol.

Police Files Torch Run 1

Click on photo for a larger image

Photo by Mary Hurlbut

LBPD, LBFD, and Laguna Lifeguards enjoying the Special Olympics Torch 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.

“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.

Police Files Torch Run 2

Click on photo for a larger image

Photo by Mary Hurlbut

LBPD gets ready to rally for the 5.4-mile Special Olympics run yesterday


Police Files

Human smuggling suspected at Crystal Cove as panga boat washes ashore

Laguna Beach Police, Newport Beach Police and California State Parks responded early yesterday morning, Monday, June 11, following a suspicious panga boat landing on the beach in the Reef Point area of Crystal Cove in what is believed to be a “human smuggling event.”

According to reports, authorities detected a craft in the ocean via infrared images showing what was believed to be a dozen or so passengers, until it was lost in the marine layer. 

All occupants were believed to have departed the area immediately upon reaching shore and have not been located since.

Police Files Panga Boat

Click on photo for a larger image

Courtesy of Laguna Beach PD

According to LBPD, a “human smuggling event” occurred at Crystal Cove on Monday when this panga boat washed ashore

“We found the boat around 6:30 this [Monday] morning,” said Jorge Moreno, Information Officer, OC Parks Dept.

He could not comment any further regarding the event and said that all other questions need to be directed to the CA Border Patrol. 

Shortly after 7 a.m., Laguna Beach Police deployed drones as part of the search effort.

By 7:35 a.m., LBPD reported that the suspects were outstanding and believed to have left the area.

“There were no people. It was already abandoned. There were just remnants in the boat,” said LBPD PIO Sgt Cota.

The panga boat was removed from the beach as the investigation continued.

Anyone with information about the incident should contact CA Border Patrol at (619) 216-4000.

Near record rescues by LB Lifeguards over weekend 

With warm summer-like weather over the weekend and large pounding waves, LB Marine Safety was slammed serving our beaches making a real difference. 

Swimmer at Pearl Street receives help from good Samaritan

On Saturday, June 10 at Pearl Street Beach, a 27-year-old Santa Rosa man reportedly ran into the water diving head first into the surf and hit his head. He was floating face down unconscious, when a good Samaritan aided him.

“At that point he was extracted by a good Samaritan and they began CPR,” said LB Marine Safety Captain Kai Bond. “Our units arrived and provided basic life support per our OC EMS standards.”

Police Files Pearl Street

Click on photo for a larger image

Submitted photo

A good Samaritan rescued an unconscious diver, providing CPR until help arrived

The man was taken to the hospital via ambulance with medics to Mission Hospital in Mission Viejo. His status is unknown.

The good Samaritan was reported to be a male, approximately 20 years old.

2-year-old toddler injured on rocks taken to Mission Hospital

A medical emergency call was received from an incident that occurred at the 100 Block of Mountain Road on Saturday, June 9 at 5:50 p.m. 

The incident happened at the rocks leading to the stairway at Mountain Road, according to Cpt Bond. 

According to reports, a father was holding his 2-year-old daughter when he slipped and fell onto the rocks. The toddler also fell, sustaining a head injury.

The 2-year-old child was transported to Mission Hospital in Mission Viejo via a medic transport.

“Missing” boogie boarder found safe and unscathed on the beach

On Saturday, June 9 at 5:22 p.m. at Camel Point Drive, LBPD received a call about a missing person, a swimmer, in the ocean. It was reported that the missing swimmer was an 11-year-old boy with no shirt and pale black shorts, riding a boogie board.

“A child was reported to have gone missing in the water at Camel Point. The reporting party didn’t see the child and he was found approximately an hour later at Aliso Beach,” Cpt Bond said. 

According to the report, the OC Coast Guard was notified sending rescuers in Duke, a MEDEVAC-capable search and rescue helicopter.

The concerned citizen who alerted authorities reported that about an hour prior she had seen a yellow boogie board floating by itself.

Luckily, at 6:37 p.m., the young boogie boarder was found back on the sand.

Missing scuba diver at Crescent Bay found unharmed

On Sunday, June 10 at 11:08 a.m., it was reported that a scuba diver was missing from Crescent Bay.

Marine Safety, LBPD and LBFD responded.

“The reporting party said that they were separated from their dive partner approximately 400 feet off of the shore at the north end of Crescent Bay Beach,” Cpt Bond said. “Lifeguards commenced a search of the area. The diver came up out of the water at the south end and was being rescued by a lifeguard.”

The lifeguard quickly identified him as the missing person, the rescue was effective, and the scuba diver was brought to shore.

The scuba diver was described as a male, approximately 50 years old, and luckily, he didn’t need any medical attention.

“Over the weekend, we had 192 rescues. We provided medical aid to 92 people, 5,700 public contacts and made 3,980 prevents, preventative actions,” Cpt Bond explained.

“It exceeds the normal amount based for on for this time of year based on the fact that there was good weather forecasted long term for the weekend, so people were gearing up for the weekend because they knew the weather would be nice,” Cpt Bond said. “In addition to the large surf that we got that was 3 to 5 feet on Saturday, [we also had] 6 and 8 feet sets on Sunday consistently throughout the day.”


When nature calls, don’t answer…several unsavory species spotted too close to home

There seems to be a guest spot on Wild Kingdom airing in the 5000 block of Avenida Del Sol recently with critters running amok, causing chaos, all within two days.

On Saturday, June 9 at 11:32 a.m., a woman called LBPD to report an “unknown animal in her bedroom,” notifying officers that she was scared. She described the intruder as having a long tail and questioned whether it could be a lizard or a snake.

The worried woman was advised to close her door and wait for an Animal Services officer to help quell her woes.

Earlier in the week on Wednesday, June 6 at 6:27 p.m., also in the 5000 block of Avenida Del Sol, a woman called LBPD to report and unwanted dinner guest. A coyote had a meal a la skunk in her backyard and kept leftovers for later. She asked Animal Services to assist in removing the skunk remains from her backyard. She must have thought the meal really stunk, most likely giving it bad reviews.

Oh dear, a possible “Bambi” scenario occurred at the 23000 block of Via Campo Verde on Wednesday, June 6 at 10:47 a.m. A person called to report that a mother deer allegedly left behind her baby deer, abandoning it. 

Police Files Fawn

Click on photo for a larger image

Courtesy of SpottedFawnMarketing.com

A baby fawn is abandoned by her mother in a Bambi gone bad scenario, the actual fawn is not pictured, rather a stand in model for representational purposes

However, this testimony would probably not hold up in court because it was hearsay, the person reporting the crime did not actually witness the mama deer in the act.

On a positive note, the caring caller asked LBPD if it was ok for the baby deer to stay on the property with the gate ajar.

Beware snakes are here, there, and everywhere in Laguna Beach these days.

On Wednesday, June 6 at 5:39 p.m., LBPD was contacted about a rattlesnake on a residents’ front porch at the 1200 block of La Mirada Street. There were no reported knocks or doorbell sounds heard, so that rules out a ding-dong-ditch motive or a dashed delivery debacle detected.

On Saturday, June 9 at 10:53 a.m., at the 1900 block of Temple Hills Drive, LBPD received a call reporting that a snake was in a residents’ garage. According to the police report, the raucous rattler got its justice and was “in custody.” Handcuffs?


Police Files

Father’s Day crash lands dad and daughter in ER

On Sunday, June 17 at 11:08 a.m., Laguna Beach Police and Fire personnel responded to a traffic collision involving an overturned vehicle at Vista Del Sol and Coast Highway. 

Reporting parties estimated that the driver at fault, not the injured father and daughter, was traveling 90-100 mph on Coast Highway at the time of the collision.

Police Files Accident

Click on photo for a larger image

Courtesy of LBPD

A careening car traveling at speeds up to 100 mph on Coast Highway collides with a daughter and dad on Father’s Day

“It was determined a reckless driver had caused the collision by sideswiping another vehicle causing that vehicle to overturn. Both the driver and his daughter, not at fault, were taken to Mission Hospital – Laguna Beach for their injuries,” LBPD Spokesperson PIO Sgt Jim Cota said. “The father suffered a laceration on his leg and the daughter suffered a broken finger.”

The driver deemed at fault, Aaron Van Korlaar, 26, Rancho Santa Margarita, was arrested on suspicion of felony DUI and taken into custody. 

“Several of our officers working that day are Drug Recognition Experts (DRE). The suspect was evaluated in the field and at the station and determined to be under the influence of a depressant. No alcohol was detected and nothing was found in the vehicle,” Sgt Cota said. “He gave a blood sample per law requirements.”

According to LBPD, Van Korlaar was taken straight to OC Jail and bail was set at $100,000.

However, upon booking at OC Jail, he was released without bail and with no charges pending.

When asked for a statement regarding his release without charges, Michelle Van Der Linden, OCDA Spokesperson said, “The Orange County District Attorney’s Office bears an ethical responsibility to file only those charges that are supported by the evidence and can be proven beyond a reasonable doubt with in a court of law.

“Upon review of the evidence this particular case was referred back to the Laguna Beach Police department for further investigation. The OCDA maintains the ability to file charges at a later date.”

Summer canine curfew: dogs are nixed from beaches from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m., through Sept 10

Move over Rover, the free roving beach days are over at least from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. through September 10. Over the weekend, dogs were dogged with the unwelcome news on the City’s Facebook Page, “Sorry doggies, as of today you have to wait until 6 p.m. to be on the beach. It’s a seasonal rule, June 15 - Sept 10, that is part of our Municipal Code. After 6 p.m. and before 9 a.m., dogs are welcome on our sandy shores, though like everywhere in Laguna they must be on a leash.” #lagunabeach #beachlife #dogs

Jim Beres, LBPD Civilian Services Administrator, explained the “dogs on beaches” ordinance to Stu News to help locals settle down scruffy, which can be a toughie for pups excited to play on the sandy beaches any time of day.

Why is this policy in place?

“Because the beaches are so crowded with visitors and beachgoers, it is not safe to have dogs on the beach during those days and times. Between June 15 and September 10, dogs can be on the beach before 9 a.m. and after 6 p.m. as long as they are on leash,” Beres said. 

The sole exception is Thousand Steps Beach, where dogs are never allowed. The county has banned dogs at Thousand Steps all day, year round.

“Dogs are never allowed off leash at any time on City beaches and all the other county beaches follow the same rules the City beaches do,” Beres said. “They are allowed off leash at the Dog Park in Laguna Canyon, and they are allowed off leash on private property, provided it is fenced.”

Police Files Dog

Click on photo for a larger image

Photo by Mary Hurlbut

Over the busy summer months, canine curfew at Laguna beaches is in effect, from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m., through September 10

According to Beres, the “dogs on leashes only” ordinance was first adopted in 1978 with the most recent revision in 2011. The fines are tiered based on the number of offenses cited within a 12-month time frame. The first offense is $100, the second is $200 and the third is $500.

What about Emerald Bay and Irvine Cove, what are the dog rules there?

“Emerald Bay is in the county’s unincorporated area, so the county’s rules would apply there. Irvine Cove is within the City, so all the City rules apply [there] just like any other public City beach,” Beres said.

For Fidos that drool at the prospect of ruling the beach supreme, the prospect is a pipe dream. 

Has the City discussed a year-round dog beach?

“It has been discussed on occasion, but there are no appropriate locations in Laguna Beach for a dog beach,” Beres said. 

Is this something that would need to originate with Council? Is this a possibility for the future?

“They have addressed that issue in the past, but there is just nowhere in Laguna Beach that would be appropriate for a dog beach. There is a great dog beach in Huntington Beach, but the difference is there are no homes near the Huntington Beach dog beach,” Beres said. “In Laguna Beach, we have residents who live by all of our beaches. In addition, we have a state Marine Protected Area off our coast that prohibits disturbing the marine environment, and that prohibition applies to dogs as well.”

 He said the City typically receives a handful of complaints from residents about dogs chasing wildlife at the beaches or in the tidepools every year, and that this is a violation of the Federal Marine Mammal Protection Act, as well as the state Marine Protected Area.

Snake Files

Slip, sliding, and slithering away: snakes are here to stay, so be careful and keep them at bay

On Wednesday, June 13 at 2:02 p.m., a business in the 400 block of Forest Avenue called LBPD to report a snake inside the wall. Described as a stray, the snake decided to move away, first outside the business, then on to the street, the busy snake was reportedly quite fast on its feet.

At 2:08 p.m., six minutes later, LBPD received another call that the same snake was busy on the crawl. But instead of being witnessed on lower ground, the snake had lofty ambitions, so on the gutter above he was found. Now three feet of the snake was up on display, yes, that crazy snake-artist described as yellow and grey. 

Then, at 2:39 p.m., a third call came in. It seems that the snake-capades were not at the end. The snake it turns out they finally did catch, and Animal Services was requested to come out and fetch. 

More on Wednesday, at the 800 block of Diamond Street at 3:53 p.m., another snake call was reported to LBPD. A woman found a large snake in her garage and asked for help to get it out. Then she learned it was a gopher snake and decided she would “leave it on her property.”

Another snake call came in to LBPD on Wednesday, June 13. This one was at the 30800 block of Coast Highway at 3:54 p.m. when a snake was reportedly found at a resident’s front door. Cited as a 601 by LBPD, that trespassing snake was Gone on Arrival, instinct must have kicked in, pure survival.

Wednesday’s “local snake sighting day” continued ironically at 6:13 p.m. (on June 13). Located at the 21600 block of Ocean Vista Drive another rattler came visiting a resident’s front door. However, this time it was a baby rattler, capricious to the core, that quickly decided to hide underneath the pot by the door. 

On Thursday, June 14 at 3:32 p.m., at the 100 block of Irvine Cove Place, LBPD received a call from a resident reporting that it had a snake in custody. The snake was placed in a box on the driveway and it was requested that Animal Services take it from there.

On Thursday, June 14 at 4:51 p.m., the roil of the coil continued at the 2000 block of Temple Hills Drive, where LBPD received a report of a rattlesnake in a resident’s front yard. The stray snake might have lost its way, but today was not its day, put in custody, the poor guy would stay.

Competing with “wild snake Wednesday,” Thursday, June 14 came in a close second with another call to LBPD at 9:19 p.m., at the 2200 block of Laguna Canyon Road. A rattlesnake was found cruising the courtyard at the main campus at LCAD, filled with dreams of someday becoming an artist grad. The rabbits and racoons laughed, calling it a cad. The whole incident would have been funny if it wasn’t so darn sad.

On Friday, June 15 at 6:33 p.m., at the 2400 block of Laguna Canyon Road, a rattlesnake was reported just in time for happy hour. The rattler was seen making the rounds first in the backyard, then at the side of the house, this snake was social, no meek mouse.


Police Files

Bouncer from The Saloon gets bounced for allegedly selling coke

On Wednesday, June 27, in the early morning hours, LBPD patrol officers arrested the doorman of The Saloon, William Hoglund, outside of the downtown bar for an outstanding DUI warrant. 

Police Files Hoglund“A search of Hoglund revealed a cell phone and a container with four small individually wrapped baggies of cocaine,” LBPD Spokesperson PIO Sgt Jim Cota said. “Texts on his cell phone revealed conversations of sales of cocaine.”   

The individual baggies of cocaine were approximately 1 gram each for a total of just over 4 grams.

William Anthony Hoglund, 27, of Dana Point, was arrested for Felony Conspiracy to Commit a Crime and Felony Possession for Sale of a Narcotic or Controlled Substance.

“Detectives took the case and wrote a search warrant for his residence,” Sgt Cota said.

According to arrest logs online, no bail was issued.

Under the same case number, it appears that a second person was involved and arrested on similar charges. However, at the time of press, LBPD was not able to comment on this, and said that more information will follow.

Vegas woman arrested for unpaid hotel room charges

On Tuesday, June 26, LBPD officers responded to the Laguna Beach Inn, at the 2000 block of South Coast Highway, where a woman was reportedly refusing to pay her hotel room balance. According to the caller, she became verbally aggressive toward staff.

According to reports, the woman checked in on Monday, June 11, stating that she planned to stay a few days. On Friday, June 15, she extended her stay. On Friday, June 21, she told hotel staff that she wanted to extend her stay again, stating that she wanted to pay in cash.

According to LBPD Spokesperson PIO Sgt Jim Cota, “The hotel did not accept cash, so she provided the same credit card that she checked in with. The card was declined. The staff said she did not care and did not provide another credit card. The woman was identified as Carmen Loera by her Nevada Driver’s License.

“Loera then claimed to have an allergic reaction to fruit and requested medical attention. She denied transportation to the hospital,” Sgt Cota said.

Police Files Loera“When the staff stated that they needed to discuss her balance, Loera said she had an agreement for $2,800 dollars for a month, but the general manager disputed this agreement was ever made,” Sgt Cota said.

“Loera claimed that the general manager stole her money and that she did not have a balance,” Sgt Cota said. 

According to Sgt Cota, “When Loera’s credit card was confirmed, she tried to avoid the issue or claim to have a medical problem. The total balance of her stay was $1,233.77. The hotel was desirous of prosecution.”

Carmen Reina Loera, 47, of Las Vegas, was arrested for Refusing to Leave a Hotel – Trespassing, a misdemeanor, and for Defrauding an Innkeeper of over $400, a felony.

She was transported to the LBPD where she was booked. 

Bail was set at $20,000.

Animal Files

Poor cat gets stuck, pinned and trapped in an SUV 

On Sunday, June 24 at 3:02 p.m., LBPD received a call from a woman at the 600 block of S Coast Highway, about her cat being stuck up inside her vehicle.

The woman told LBPD that her cat was lost inside her white Jeep Cherokee between the frame and the panel.

To make things worse, the cat had been stuck inside the SUV all the way since Whittier, a 40-mile trip. Poor kitty endured such a cat-a-strophic traverse! 

Meowing out for help, the cat could be heard but not seen.

According to reports, Animal Services was unable to extract the cat from the car. However, the cat’s dad, the caller’s husband, was a mechanic and would be driving to the scene to dislodge the cat.

Unfortunately, police logs ended there, and attempts to reach Animal Services for confirmation on the current status of the cat were unsuccessful.

If anyone has an update on the kitty, please email This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

Coyote mom and five pups show up to Laguna Beach home uninvited

On Tuesday, June 26 at 8:19 a.m., at the 3100 block of Via Serena, LBPD received a call about a coyote sighting, actually coyotes. The incident was reported to have occurred the night before, on Monday, at approximately 7:30 p.m. 

According to reports, the resident saw a coyote mom and her five pups up close and in person on their patio. The caller was concerned that the pack might hurt their animals and asked Animal Services to try to track the pack. “We [were] hurt by them last month,” the caller said.

Police Files Coyotes

Click on photo for a larger image

Photo found on Twitter posted by “Pete Fisher"

Coyote pups showed up uninvited to a Laguna Beach home on Tuesday with their mom

A similar incident occurred the day before in North Laguna, on Tuesday, June 26 at 9:23 a.m., at the 31100 block of Holly Street – except this time, the uninvited guests were bobcats.

The caller reported to LBPD that a bobcat and three cubs were “hanging out on Holly Street in the driveway.”


Police Files

LBPD arrests Carlsbad man for felony sexual battery of a Laguna Beach minor

On April 4, LBPD began investigating a sexual assault case involving a minor. The reported victim is a 16-year-old Laguna Beach girl.

Last Wednesday morning, May 23, a search and arrest warrant was served on a suspect from Carlsbad with the assistance of Carlsbad PD, in connection with the suspected crime.

 “After a thorough investigation, Laguna Beach detectives served a search warrant in Carlsbad and subsequently arrested Rajiv Dilip Parikh, 36, of Carlsbad, for Felony Sexual Battery and Annoying, Molesting a Minor,” said LBPD Spokesperson PIO Sgt Jim Cota. “We are working closely with the family.”   

At the conclusion of the investigation, it was determined that this was an isolated incident, said Sgt Cota.

“The Laguna Beach Police Department will not tolerate any form of inappropriate or illegal acts against our children,” said Sgt Cota. “Our detectives conducted a very thorough investigation and established crimes were committed. We would have traveled to the other side of the planet to get the suspect if we had too.” 

Parikh’s bail was set at $25,000.

Sawdust mural vandal remains at large, please call LBPD with any leads

On Tuesday, May 22 at 6:44 a.m., officers responded to a vandalism report at the Sawdust Art Festival. Sometime the previous night, an unknown suspect had spray painted black X’s through the Sawdust’s summer mural, “Goddesses.”

According to Sgt Cota, a black rubber glove and a yellow spray can tip were found within proximity of the crimes.

Unfortunately, there was no video surveillance captured at the address, but LBPD is hoping someone who knows something or saw something will step up.

“There are no suspects at this time. We are hoping someone in the community knows something,” said Sgt Cota. 

According to Sgt Cota, LBPD detectives will be processing the glove and spray can tip for any DNA. “If there is any DNA on the items located, we will find out the suspect(s) responsible for this act of vandalism,” said Sgt Cota.

The artists who created the mural, Charmaine Olivia and Alec DeMarco, will be working hard to “fix” the mural in time for Sawdust Art Festival’s opening on Friday, June 29.

If anyone has any information about the crime, please contact LBPD at (949) 497-0701.

Hot wheels, not here, steer clear: LBPD corporal ranks #1 for tracking down stolen vehicles

Laguna Beach vehicle owners are a lot safer thanks to LBPD Corporal Luke Gilbertson, who recently received the 2017 Vehicle Theft Recovery Award for the third year in a row.

Sponsored by the Auto Theft Advisory Committee, Cpl Gilbertson received the award on May 23 at the 28th Annual Awards Presentation in Garden Grove.

Police Files Award

Click on photo for a larger image

Photo courtesy of LBPD

LBPD Cpl Luke Gilbertson awarded 2017 Vehicle Theft Recovery Award

“Within the year, Cpl Gilbertson recovered 17 rolling stolen vehicles. If you are driving a stolen vehicle, stay out of Laguna Beach, we are good at what we do,” Sgt Cota said. 

LBPD gave congratulations to Cpl Gilberton on the City’s website and on their Facebook page. 


Police Files

‘Goddesses’ defaced, Sawdust mural tagged by vandal, leaving evidence behind

On Tuesday, May 22 at 6:44 a.m., LBPD received a report that a mural outside of the Sawdust Art Festival had been vandalized, tagged with black spray paint. Located at the 900 Block at Laguna Canyon Road, the mural is on the north end of the Sawdust property facing the street. 

Upon arrival at the scene, LBPD discovered that a glove and the tip of a spray paint can had been left behind. 

According to Sawdust Marketing and PR Coordinator Franky Duschane, the mural, “Goddesses,” by Charmaine Olivia and Alec DeMarco, was defaced during the late evening of Monday, May 21.

 “At this time, we do not know who is responsible for the vandalism nor do we know why, but we are actively working with local law enforcement to ensure it does not happen again,” Duschane said. “Charmaine and Alec generously donated the mural to us and are graciously committed to its restoration. Sawdust Art Festival’s 2018 mural was reviewed and approved by the Laguna Beach Arts Commission.”

Sawdust Board President Kelly Akins is appalled.

What a despicable act that was perpetrated on the beautiful art being created for our summer mural,” Atkins said. “The artists, Alec and Charmaine, were devastated by this, but they are amazing and working harder than ever to fix the vandalism and have the mural ready for our opening.”

Click on photo for a lareger image

Photo by Mary Hurlbut

Sawdust art mural tagged, the crime of defacing art in Laguna is highly unusual

There has been public outcry on Facebook with Laguna Beach residents coming together to support the beloved local art festival. Lifetime Sawdust exhibitor Doug Miller posted pictures of the defaced mural on Facebook with details of the egregious crime.

“Mural at Sawdust was defaced with black spray paint…the police are on it,” Miller said. “If anyone knows anything, please report it.”

Like the rest of the Laguna Beach community, City Cultural Arts Manger Siân Poeschl was angered. 

 “This type of vandalism is highly unusual and unacceptable in our community,” Poeschl said. “These young artists had yet to complete the work, and we had not had an opportunity to enjoy it.”

Sawdust glass artist Maggie Spencer echoed Poeschl’s sentiments.

“It is disgraceful that such a vulgar act of vandalism would happen to any work of art,” Spencer said. “But to have it happen in this art community is particularly vile.”

As of 8 p.m. on Thursday, nearly 300 people had responded to Miller’s post, including over 116 comments. In an update, Miller later said, “The artists are going to repaint and protect it with an anti-graffiti clear coat.”

Neighbor Mark Orgill, Laguna Creative Ventures’ President of Strategy and Development was sympathetic. “These things are very unfortunate,” he said. 

Orgill has been instrumental in the Laguna Civic Art District improvements, including the recent murals added to The Hive (formerly the Festival Center).

Fortunately, those murals are protected.

“The product we use is Sher-Clear by Sherwin-Williams,” Orgill said.

Stu News will provide updates on the investigation of this crime by LBPD.

 

LBPD will be going door-to-door to enforce that local canines are ‘properly licensed’, it says

Fido might be fined if he’s an unlicensed canine. Beginning June 1, the knock at the door could be LBPD Animal Services Officers, who will begin going house-to-house to verify that dogs are properly licensed.  

In a press release issued by LBPD Police Chief Laura Farinella, locals are reminded that dog licenses are required by law and that a rabies tag is not a dog license.

“Many dog owners do not realize that state and local laws require all dogs over four-months of age to be licensed, and to wear a dog license tag at all times,” Chief Farinella said. “New residents or dogs newly acquired shall obtain a dog license within 15 days.”

During the neighborhood rover to find rogue rovers, Animal Services Officers may leave a door hanger to remind residents that their dog licenses are expired and need to be renewed. 

On the up side, securing a dog license is an important part of identification and can assist Animal Services if your pet becomes lost.

Courtesy of PetWorld website

A real picture of a puppy, just for illustrative purposes, not an actual pup that may or may not live in Laguna Beach, or may or may not be licensed 

Since dogs need to get tagged annually, think of it as routine maintenance, like an annual exam. The cost is $48 for canines that are not spayed or neutered pets and half the cost, $24, for pets that can no longer produce pups. And senior citizens, ages 65 and older, receive a 50 percent discount of the applicable fee. 

However, don’t shirk the money due on that Shar-Pei, there is a late fee of $17 if the dog license is not purchased by the due date. Pet registrations are not transferable or refundable. 

To procure a new dog license, download an application form from the City website and mail it with a check made payable to the Laguna Beach Animal Shelter. Or, if you prefer to take care of it face-to-face, visit The Animal Shelter or the Cashiers Counter at City Hall during regular business hours. 

The Animal Shelter is open seven days a week, 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. City Hall is open Monday through Thursday from 7:30 a.m. to 5 p.m, and alternating Fridays from 7:30 a.m. to 4 p.m. (City Hall is closed on the other alternating Fridays). Check the City website calendar if needed at www.lagunabeachcity.net. For information, call the Laguna Beach Animal Shelter at (949) 497-3552.


Police Files

Knifing on Laguna Beach trolley: argument escalates, juvenile reportedly stabs adult male

On Monday, July 11 at 3:55 p.m., LBPD officers were dispatched to 3rd Avenue and Coast Highway amidst reports of a stabbing that had just occurred on a city trolley. According to reports, a juvenile male stabbed an adult male during an argument that quickly escalated.

According to LBPD Spokesperson PIO Sgt Jim Cota, the suspect, a juvenile out of South County, pulled out a 3” to 4” folding knife and stabbed the victim in the hand. The physical and verbal altercation continued and the suspect tried to climb out of a window, which caused it to break.

“Once on scene, two people were detained in handcuffs and officers were directed toward “Lovers Beach” where the suspect supposedly ran,” said Sgt Cota. “As more officers arrived, a search was conducted and more witnesses came forward to direct the officers to the suspect. 

“Two officers on the hillside above the beach tried to make contact with the suspect who was hiding in a cavern on the beach. The suspect eventually came out, although he initially acted as if he had no idea what was going on. When he realized he had no place to run, the officers were able to talk him up the hillside where he surrendered. 

“Due to the public safety concern, he was asked where he hid the knife and finally told the officers he buried it in the sand. An officer scaled the hillside to the beach and retrieved the knife. Through the course of the investigation, it appears he and his friend were on the trolley and possibly tried to rob two female juveniles of one of their backpacks. This initial incident occurred around Solana and South Coast Highway. The female juveniles resisted, got off the trolley, and contacted their parents.”

The injured adult male was treated for a small cut on his left hand. According to Sgt Cota, the male juvenile suspect was eventually taken into custody for assault with a deadly weapon and later transported to juvenile hall.

In addition to creating quite a scare for fellow trolley goers, the incident also snarled traffic in South Laguna for hours. A traffic alert from the City notified residents of delays on Southbound Coast Hwy “due to police activity” starting at 4:14 p.m. The delays lasted for at least two hours.

Skateboarder without helmet gets nailed and jailed for drugs and a slew of other crimes

On Saturday, July 7 at 9:52 p.m., an LBPD officer saw a skateboarder at Aster Street and North Coast Highway not wearing a helmet per the Laguna Beach Municipal Code. The officer contacted the male subject and advised him the reason for the stop. 

“Officers asked him if he was probation or parole and he said “Yes” and asked if he had to give his name,” Sgt Cota said. “Terms of his probation were to always cooperate with law enforcement and not refuse to provide information.”

The male subject, who did not have any identification on his possession, was taken into custody for not wearing a helmet while skateboarding.

Police Files GalloiscosenzaHe was later identified as Huntington Beach resident Beau Galloiscosenza, 29.

“A search of Galloiscosenza revealed heroin and a pipe with methamphetamine inside of it. Galloiscosenza also had an outstanding warrant for his arrest for Battery with injuries,” Sgt Cota said. “Galloiscosenza was also in possession of several credit cards, not in his name, and a blank check in a large bag.” 

But that’s not all. Also inside the bag were stolen license plates that he allegedly took in Laguna Beach. 

Galloiscosenza was arrested for the outstanding warrant, possession of heroin and cocaine, possession of a narcotic pipe, and misappropriation of stolen property.

Bail was set at $20,000.

Trespassing juvie boys jump from 4th story into pool

On Saturday, July 7 at 9:26 p.m., in the 31500 block of Tablerock Drive, approximately four male juveniles, ages 12-16, were reported trespassing at the Tablerock Terrace Apartments. According to the RP, they were seen jumping from the 4th story into the pool with what “looked like cameras or GoPros in their mouth when they jumped.”

LBPD responded to the scene but the boys had already fled and were not located.   

Take heed pool-jumping boys, a Laguna pool-jumper known as “8booth” was still hobbled more than six months after shattering both feet following a pool jump at Pacific Edge Hotel in December 2016. A video of the incident showed him hitting the edge of the pool, falling into the water, and then crawling away from the scene. He was also charged with trespassing.


Police Files 

LBPD’s crackdown on exhaust noise goes viral on Facebook

A Stu News Police Files story on Tuesday went viral on LBPD’s Facebook page, stirring emotions and comments (thousands of them) about our PD’s current crackdown on loud tail and exhaust noise.

According to LBPD Spokesperson PIO Sgt Jim Cota, the crackdown started to quell locals’ complaints about the noise. 

“We receive complaints regarding loud vehicle noise, both motorcycle and vehicles, on an ongoing basis. In response to these complaints, we have been providing ongoing education, issuing warnings and citation enforcement,” said Sgt Cota. “We have been communicating to visitors and residents through the use of our city message boards that loud vehicles may be cited.”  

Cota explained that the noise enforcement was done through officer’s observations. 

The section LBPD cited is CVC27150(a), which states, “Every motor vehicle subject to registration shall at all times be equipped with an adequate muffler in constant operation and properly maintained to prevent any excessive or unusual noise, and no muffler or exhaust system shall be equipped with a cutout, bypass, or similar device.”

“The enforcement was aimed at those individuals who intentionally modify their 

exhaust so that it is loud or those who have a legal exhaust, but intentionally create excessive or unusual noise by revving their engines to create noise,” said Sgt Cota. 

LBPD is not intentionally targeting a specific group of people, he said.

“It has been incorrectly communicated that we are targeting Harley style motorcycles and exotic sports cars,” Sgt Cota said. “We welcome everyone to Laguna Beach, but are asking that motorists drive responsibly, keeping in mind that the noise from vehicles echo throughout the community.”

 

Courtesy of autoindustryia.com

Loud, exhaust heavy cars like this one on autoindustryia.com are the culprit in the fight against noise pollution, not a real car cited in Laguna, just an example

Manufacturers have to comply with exhaust noise regulations and factory equipped exhaust systems in California, which for cars must be under 95 dbA. Motorcycles must be under 80 dbA. The average car, similar to that of patrol vehicle or police motorcycle, meets these requirements.

“During the education and enforcement detail on May 12, there were 45 motorcycles stopped for excessive noise. There were 26 combined citations and warnings issued to motorcyclists. There were 24 vehicles stopped for excessive noise and 21 combined citations and warnings were issued,” Sgt Cota said.

 He said both citations and warnings were issued. Citations generally require a motorist to pay a fine but that is determined by the court, not by the police department. And contrary to naysayers of the law, the police department does not generate revenue as a result of issuing these citations.

 “We receive request complaints from citizens regarding loud vehicles, as they feel it is disruptive and a form on noise pollution,” Sgt Cota said. 

 “We are being responsive to the community’s concerns while trying to balance the letter of the law vs the spirit of the law,” Sgt Cota said. “We appreciate those who choose to live in Laguna Beach and those who visit Laguna Beach. We hope to encourage those who drive through Laguna Beach to be respectful of the community and to not intentionally create excessive noise by revving their engines.”

 He said Laguna Beach is not the only community being inundated by exhaust pollution. Because Pacific Coast Highway is a popular recreational area to drive it’s an issue among neighboring agencies, especially along the coast.

The post on LBPD’s Facebook page says that the noise pollution patrol is going on for the entire week. However, Sgt Cota commented that LBPD’s efforts to reduce intentional noise from loud exhaust is ongoing. 

“We post on FB to make the community and visitors aware of our efforts,” Sgt Cota said. “We have received numerous supporting emails and calls because of the enforcement and they are happy we are taking their complaints seriously.”

Longtime Laguna Beach City Councilmember Toni Iseman applauds LBPD for their efforts to mitigate the loud muffler brigade. 

“I’m hearing from countless residents so delighted about the enforcement,” Iseman said.

Comments that she’s heard are all positive, including, “I hope the word is out that they can’t roar through our town anymore.” “I look forward to walking downtown again.” “It’s not just the noise, it’s the fumes.” “They set off my car alarm and woke up my baby.”

Longtime resident and merchant Heidi Miller cheers the LBPD.
“So proud of our police department! Proactive and dedicated. Laguna Beach is so proud, and we stand behind our brave police department! As a 40-year resident and 40-year business owner in Laguna Beach, my interactions with the LBPD have been positive, professional, and appreciated,” Miller said.

Luciana Straulino Coutchie, who gave LBPD a 5-star review, concurs.

“All the negative reviews appear to be from people who do NOT actually live in Laguna Beach. A number of them seem to have targeted several other Police Departments giving them all negative reviews,” Coutchie said.

She continued, “If they were actual residents, I have no doubt the majority would rate LBPD as excellent and caring Police Officers. I personally know, admire, and respect Laguna Beach’s Police Officers.”

Coutchie is the mother of beloved fallen Laguna Beach Motor Officer Jon Coutchie, who, devastatingly, was killed in a crash on September 21, 2013 at the young age of 41.

He will never be forgotten by LBPD or the community that loves and misses him.

 

Dog abandoned in car by tourist on Mother’s Day

On Mother’s Day, Sunday, May 13, a pet owner, presumably the pet’s mother, left her dog in the car in the middle of the day. A hot car = a hot dog, and not the good kind.

Jim Beres LBPD Spokesperson Civilian Services Administrator said four separate callers called to get help for the canine, who was locked in a car in the 300 Block of North Coast Highway at 12:52 p.m.

The second caller reported, “The dog looks distressed.”

The third caller reported that the canine had been cooped up for over 30 minutes.

And the final fourth caller mustered even more might for the mutt, threatening to break in the windows themselves to let the dog out.

“The door was opened by tow company at request of Animal Services…the city pays for that,” Beres said.

The tow truck came, released the dog from the vehicle and the dog was taken into custody.

“The owner of the dog was a 28-year-old female from Colorado,” Beres said. “The owner of the dog was upset until it was explained to her the severity of the incident and that citizens wanted to break her windows.”

Andy then a Mother’s Day miracle…“She was able to calm down and thanked LBPD personnel,” Beres said.

“The owner was cited for CPC 597.7(a)-Animal in unattended motor vehicle. The case will be heard in Superior Court and the fine will be determined by the judge,” said LBPD Spokesperson PIO Sgt Jim Cota.


Police Files

Laguna woman held at gunpoint at home by two armed suspects in home invasion demanding drugs, guns, and money

On Monday, June 11 at 11:06 p.m., in the 20000 Block of Laguna Canyon Road, LBPD received a 9-1-1 call from a resident reporting she had been the victim of a home invasion robbery moments prior.

The victim, a 71-year-old Laguna Beach woman, was home alone during the attack. While still partially bound, tied up with her hands behind her back, she informed dispatchers that the two men dressed in all black, wearing black ski masks, entered her home and held a handgun to her head demanding drugs and money.

“One of the suspects was believed to be Hispanic by his accent. A gun was held to her head at one point,” said LBPD Spokesperson PIO Sgt Jim Cot. “The suspects stole three guns from the residence, two handguns and one shotgun that belonged to her son-in-law.”

Approximately $55 in cash was also stolen.

“She received minor injuries, cuts to her wrists and her hands due to being tied up and to her face, but did not want medical attention,” Sgt Cota said.

The victim, who lives in a single-family home, said they were ransacking her house for approximately 30 minutes before fleeing the area.

Police Files Home Invasion

Click on photo for a larger image

Courtesy of LBPD 

One of two suspects caught on camera via the victim’s home security camera during a home invasion robbery in the Canyon on Monday

During her 9-1-1 call, the victim reported that she no longer heard the suspects but that she could hear her dogs barking in the front yard.

In regard to the suspects’ identities, one of the suspect’s “nose looks pretty large,” said Sgt Cota.

Whether there were any drugs stolen from the home is still under investigation.

“I cannot comment on specifics; this is active investigation. Citizens in the city should not have fear because this house and occupants were their target,” Sgt Cota said. “We believe this to be an isolated incident and we are seeking the public’s assistance to identify the suspects.”

If any residents have any tips they should call LBPD at (949) 497-0701, Investigations Sergeant Jim Cota at (949) 464-6671 or Crime Stoppers at (800) 222-TIPS (8477).

Eagle Scout and friends help save a stranger’s life at Pearl Street Beach

In Tuesday’s edition of Police Files it was reported that a good Samaritan rescued a man at Pearl Street Beach. It turns out there were several good Samaritans who together helped save a man’s life, including three local boy scouts.

The victim’s stepmother reached out to Stu News and wanted to thank the good Samaritans who quickly reacted to help save her stepson’s life on Saturday, June 10 at Pearl Street Beach. 

“The Good Samaritan that quickly started CPR was Coleton Sofonio (EMT). This young man and the three others who pulled my stepson from the water, and the amazing response time from the EMTs, without a doubt saved my stepson’s life,” she said. “Please give a shout of praise, as I am so grateful.”

Nik Tanski, 16, an Eagle Scout, and Alexander Kupfer-Weinstein, 16, two Laguna Niguel teens, were integral to the rescue.

Out on summer break from Dana Hills High School, they hit Laguna Beach last Saturday with friends to enjoy the large surf. Little did they know how their lives would forever change.

Police Files Nik Tanski

Click on photo for a larger image

Courtesy of Nik Tanski 

Nik Tanski, an Eagle Scout, said his scouting skills helped him save a man’s life, including knowing CPR

“There was a swell with some pretty big waves. But my friend said they watched him [the victim] jump in to the far left of Pearl Street where there’s a lot of shallow water and rocks. They weren’t sure what to think of it,” Tanski said. 

Tanski didn’t see it happen but heard his friend yelling for help.

“He was yelling, help, help, lifeguard help. I looked over and saw him holding [the victim] by the chest area trying to keep his head out of the water. And I ran over to help and grabbed [the victim’s] legs,” Tanski recalled. 

Two other friends, Nicholas Rigo and Noah Rigo, helped carry the victim out of the water to a safer spot on the shore. 

Police Files Three Heroes

Click on photo for a larger image

Courtesy of Nik Tanski 

Pictured form left to right: Nicholas Rigo, Noah Rigo, and Nikolas Tanski ran to help save a man rescuing him at the beach and performing first aid 

“I yelled for someone to support his neck. Colton, an EMT who happened to be at the beach, heard our calls and ran in to support his neck,” Tanski said. “Colton started chest compressions, soon after I switched with him, continuing chest compressions. I just remember not hesitating; I just jumped in and started.”

Tanski remembers telling his friends to call 9-1-1 and get the lifeguards.

“It’s definitely an experience that I will never forget. I am really thankful that I got to help. Through scouting I’ve done so many merit badges where they teach and reinforce the basics of CPR and first aid. I don’t think I would have ever known what to do or had the confidence to do that [administer CPR and save a life] without scouting,” Tanski said. “It really was an eye-opener to how beneficial scouting is in life. And also just the necessity to be safe especially when dealing with Mother Nature. I’m just really glad I was in the right place at the right time and able to help him.” 

It is quite an achievement to be an Eagle Scout. Only four percent of Boy Scouts are granted this rank after a lengthy review process. The requirements necessary to achieve this rank take years to fulfill. Interestingly, of the 312 pilots and scientists selected as astronauts since 1958, 180 were Scouts and 40 were Eagle Scouts (including moonwalkers Neil Armstrong and Charles Duke).

Running over to the victim, Kupfer-Weinstein was first on scene and recounted what he experienced that day.

Police Files Alexander

Click on photo for a larger image

Photo by Malia Kho

Quick action by Dana Hills student Alexander Kupfer-Weinstein helped save a life

“One of my friends saw something. I guess he hit a rock. He was facedown in the water,” Kupfer-Weinstein said. “I sprinted over to make sure he was all right. I turned him over and started dragging him our way when a wave hit us and knocked us over. But I got back up and my friends helped me. It was pretty scary.”

Their friend Andrew Reavis ran and got help.

“He ran to get a lifeguard. He was the one who ran almost to the other end of the beach to get a lifeguard. He just sprinted over there,” said Kupfer-Weinstein. “I never thought about it. I’ve heard stories, but I see it happening to somebody else and it’s kind of taken me aback. I thought immediately, after that, I need to take CPR lessons. Because if it happens again, I am not going to be able to do anything unless I learn CPR. It’s life changing.”

Tanski and his friends frequent the beaches in Laguna.

“I like surfing in Laguna, all the beaches are fantastic. We’ve been going all day almost every day. With the swell hitting it’s been so much fun,” Tanski said. “But it’s really been any eye-opening experience that anything can happen. You’ve just got to be careful out there.”


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.”


Incident Reports

Saturday, July 28

Laguna Canyon Road | 20600 Block | Annoying Phone Calls

11:36 p.m. Donald Patrick Glass, 46, Sacramento, was arrested for calling the 911 emergency line with the intent to annoy or harass another person. According to repots, he called four times total. Bail was set at $500.

Chillion Way | 2800 Block | Suspicious Activity

6:35 p.m. A caller reported that an unknown man was in her bushes. She reported “a foot sticking out of a bush” and was concerned because her next door neighbor’s house was vacant. LBPD was unable to locate the suspect.

Circle Way | 1300 Block | Resisting Arrest, Possession of False Identification

2:58 p.m. Savannah Rae LaDuke, 20, Lake Forest, was arrested for resisting arrest and providing false identification. Bail was set at $500.

Circle Way | 1300 Block |  Possession of a Narcotic Controlled Substance, 

2:58 p.m. Seong Min Back, 22, Normridge, was arrested for being in possession of a narcotic controlled substance. Bail was set at $500.

Laguna Ave | 200 Block | DUI, Driving with a Blood Alcohol Content 0.08% or Higher

8:17 p.m. A 26-year-old Beaumont man was arrested on suspicion of DUI (bail was set at $2,500) and driving with a blood alcohol content of 0.08% or higher (bail was set at $2,500.)

Laguna Canyon Road | 20600 Block | DUI, Driving with a Blood Alcohol Content 0.08% or Higher 

2:51 a.m. A 27-year-old Aurora, CO man was arrested on suspicion of DUI (bail was set at $2,500) and driving with a blood alcohol content of 0.08% or higher (bail was set at $2,500.

Coast Hwy & 9th Ave | DUI, Driving with a Blood Alcohol Content 0.08% or Higher

2:45 a.m. A 22-year-old San Clemente man was arrested on suspicion of DUI (bail was set at $2,500) and driving with a blood alcohol content of 0.08% or higher (bail was set at $2,500.)

Friday, July 27

Forrest Ave | 500 Block | Criminal Threats, Disorderly Conduct – Drugs or Alcohol, Resisting Arrest, Refusing to Provide Sample to Police

8:58 p.m. Kyle Albert Winston, 38, Mission Viejo, was arrested for criminal threats of a crime that could result in death or great bodily injury to another person. He reportedly made 10 to 15 threats to the jailer at the Laguna Beach Jail. He was also charged with disorderly conduct related to drugs or alcohol, resisting arrest, and refusal to provide blood, saliva or thump print specimens. Bail was set at $20,000.

Coast Hwy & Vista Del Sol | Violating a Restraining, Protective or Stay Away Order

1:14 p.m. Matteau Eric Queen, 19, Encinitas, was arrested for violating a court order and a parole violation. Bail was set at $15,000.

S Coast Hwy & Anita Street | Disorderly Conduct – Alcohol

1:10 a.m. A 63-year-old Riverside man was arrested for disorderly conduct related to alcohol. Bail was set at $500.

Thursday, July 26

“South of the Playground” | Bench Warrant

3:50 a.m. Feinai Saipani Eli, 43, Corona, was arrested for an outstanding bench warrant. Bail was set at $1,500.

Mountain Road | 200 Block | DUI with One Prior DUI, Driving with a Blood Alcohol Content 0.08% or Higher 12:34 a.m. Jaspaul Singh Kapoor, 31, Los Angeles, was arrested on suspicion of DUI driving with one prior DUI, and with a blood alcohol content of 0.08% or higher. Bail was set at $10,000. 

Wednesday, July 25

Forest Ave | 500 Block | Bench Warrant

9:44 p.m. William Stanley Ramirez, 43, Laguna Beach, was arrested for an outstanding bench warrant. Bail was set at $5,000.

N Coast Hwy & Viejo Street | DUI with One Prior Dior, Driving with a Blood Alcohol Content 0.08% or Higher 

6:53 p.m. William David Sommerville, 65, Laguna Beach, was arrested on suspicion of DUI with one prior DUI, and with a blood alcohol content of 0.08% or higher. Bail was set at $10,000.


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.


Incident Reports

Saturday, Aug 4

S. Coast Hwy | 1300 Block | Under the Influence of a Controlled Substance

5:50 p.m. Luis Enrique Yebra, 56, Fontana, was arrested on suspicion of being under the influence of a controlled substance. Bail was set at $500.

N Coast Hwy | 1300 Block | Possession of a Narcotic Controlled Substance, Possession of Controlled Substance Paraphernalia

5:44 p.m. Julie Michele Queler, 57, Del Ray Beach, FL, was arrested for being in possession of a narcotic controlled substance (bail was set at $500) and controlled substance paraphernalia (bail was set at $500).

Broadway Street | 200 Block | DUI, Driving with a Blood Alcohol Content 0.08% or Higher

3:22 a.m. A 26-year-old Irvine man was arrested on suspicion of DUI (bail was set at $2,500), driving with a blood alcohol content of 0.08% or higher (bail was set at $2,500).

Agate Street & S Coast Hwy | DUI, Driving with a Blood Alcohol Content 0.08% or Higher

1:23 a.m. A 30-year-old Whittier man was arrested on suspicion of DUI (bail was set at $2,500), driving with a blood alcohol content of 0.08% or higher (bail was set at $2,500).

S Coast Hwy | 100 Block | DUI with One Prior DUI, Driving with a Blood Alcohol Content 0.08% or Higher 1:03 a.m. Kevin Matthew McMahon, 35, Huntington Beach, was arrested on suspicion of DUI driving with one prior DUI (bail was set at $10,000), and with a blood alcohol content of 0.08% or higher (bail was set at $10,000). 

Friday, Aug 3

N Coast Hwy & Emerald Bay Drive | DUI

3:50 p.m. A 34-year-old San Juan Capistrano man was arrested on suspicion of DUI. Bail was set at $2,500.

S Coast Hwy & Nyes Place | Taking a Vehicle Without Owner Consent, Embezzling a Leased or Rented Vehicle

11:49 a.m. Christopher Laurence Howard, 41, Santa Ana, was arrested for taking a vehicle without owner consent and embezzling a leased or rented vehicle. Bail was set at $20,000.

St Anns Drive | 100 Block | Outstanding Warrant

6:03 a.m. Eric Lawrence McGuffick, 53, San Clemente, was arrested for an outstanding warrant. Bail was set at $10,000.

Thursday, Aug 2

Coast Hwy | 3100 Block | DUI, Driving with a Blood Alcohol Content 0.08% or Higher 

8:44 p.m. A 39-year-old Oceanside man, was arrested on suspicion of DUI (bail was set at $2,500), and driving with a blood alcohol content of 0.08% or higher (bail was set at $2,500).

Ocean Ave & Beach Street | Resisting Arrest, Failure to Use a Crosswalk

7:14 p.m. Braden Elliot Bolton, 39, Laguna Beach, was arrested for resisting arrest and failure to use a crosswalk. Bail was set at $500.

Coast Hwy & West Street | DUI, Alcohol Person Under 21, Driving with a Blood Alcohol Content 0.08% or Higher,

5:09 p.m. A 20-year-old San Juan Capistrano woman was arrested on suspicion of DUI, under the age of 21 (bail was set at $2,500), and driving with a blood alcohol content of 0.08% or higher (bail was set at $2,500).

Cleo Street | 200 Block | Possession of a Narcotic Controlled Substance, Possession of Controlled Substance Paraphernalia, Bench Warrants

3:36 p.m. Kenneth Lee Koestler, 43, Laguna Beach, was arrested for being in possession of a narcotic controlled substance (bail was set at $500) and controlled substance paraphernalia (bail was set at $500), and for multiple bench warrants (bails were set at $15,000 and $10,000).

S Coast Hwy & Anita Street | Outstanding Warrants

1:42 p.m. Damian Berry Carter, 44, Laguna Beach, was arrested for outstanding warrants for being in contempt of court, graffiti and vandalism. Bail was set at $10,000.

N Coast Hwy | 400 Block | DUI, Driving with a Blood Alcohol Content 0.08% or Higher, Driving with a Suspended License

1:56 a.m. A 25-year-old Laguna Beach man, was arrested on suspicion of DUI (bail was set at $2,500), driving with a blood alcohol content of 0.08% or higher (bail was set at $2,500) and driving with a suspended license (bail was set at $500)

Wednesday, Aug 1

Laguna Canyon Road | 20400 Block | Trespassing

10:50 p.m. Bianca Scarlett Bennett, 41, Santa Ana, was arrested for trespassing. Bail was set at $500.

S Coast Hwy | 600 Block | Trespassing

5:35 p.m. Robert Oxier, 35, Fontana, was arrested for trespassing. Bail was set at $500.

N Coast Hwy | 100 Block | Possession of Controlled Substance Paraphernalia, Bench Warrant

6:33 a.m. Robert Lenn Caltabiano, 46, Laguna Beach, was arrested for being in possession of controlled substance paraphernalia (bail was set at $500) and a bench warrant (bail was set at $1,500).

Broadway Street | 300 Block | Under the Influence of a Controlled Substance

4:34 a.m. Tatum McCall Wadle, 24, Luling, TX, was arrested on suspicion of being under the influence of a controlled substance. Bail was set at $1,000.


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.


Incident Reports

Saturday, July 21

Myrtle Street & N Coast Highway | DUI (with a prior)

9:08 a.m. Michael Anthony Hilbert, 48, El Cajon, was arrested on suspicion of DUI with a prior DUI. Bail was set at $10,000.

Forrest Ave | Warrants

5:13 p.m. Frank David Mitlo, 45, Arlington, TX was arrested for felony out-of-jurisdiction warrants. A license plate reader alerted LBPD that the registered owner, Mitlo, had felony warrants for residential burglary and elder abuse with full extradition for both. No bail was set.

N Coast Hwy| 200 Block | Disorderly Conduct – Alcohol

1:39 p.m. A 22-year-old San Clemente man was arrested for disorderly conduct related to alcohol. Bail was set at $500.

Upland Road | 200 Block | Possession of a Controlled Substance, Possession of Controlled Substance Paraphernalia

1:14 p.m. J Anthony Margarite, 38, Laguna Beach, was arrested for being in possession of a controlled substance (bail was set at $500) and controlled substance paraphernalia (bail was set at $500).

Upland Road | 200 Block | Possession of a Controlled Substance Without a Prescription, Possession of Controlled Substance Paraphernalia 

1:14 p.m. Ebony Beulah Bocage, 34, Colton, CA, was arrested for being in possession of a controlled substance without a prescription (bail was set at $500) and possession of a controlled substance (bail was set at $500).

Laguna Canyon Road | 20600 Block | Vehicle Theft

6:34 a.m. Kwang Tae Yu, 44, Pomona, was arrested for vehicle theft, taking a vehicle without the owner’s consent. Bail was $20,000.

Laguna Canyon Road | 20300 Block | DUI

2:25 a.m. A 33-year-old Mission Viejo woman was arrested on suspicion of DUI. Bail was set at $2,500.

Canyon Acres Drive & Arroyo Drive | Possession of a Controlled Substance, Possession of Controlled Substance Paraphernalia

1:51 a.m. Madeleine Elizabeth Shane, 38, Laguna Beach, was arrested for being in possession of a controlled substance (bail was set at $500) and controlled substance paraphernalia (bail was set at $500).

Canyon Acres Drive & Arroyo Drive | Possession of a Narcotic Controlled Substance 

1:51 a.m. Jason Michael Killpack, 38, San Clemente, was arrested for being in possession of a narcotic controlled substance. Bail was set at $500.

Bluebird Canyon & S Coast Hwy| Possession of a Controlled Substance, Possession of Controlled Substance Paraphernalia

12:06 a.m. Phillip Arthur Rose, Jr, 54, Laguna Niguel, was arrested for being in possession of a controlled substance (bail was set at $500) and controlled substance paraphernalia (bail was set at $500).

Wesley Drive & Coast Highway | Vehicle Theft

12:05 a.m. An LBPD officer was alerted by a citizen that a subject was seen trying to get into a woman’s car in the underground parking lot at Gelson’s. The male suspect was described as a white male with beige pants and a black backpack. An officer found the suspect and made contact with him. The police report was not completed by press time.

Friday, July 20

Regatta Road | 1500 Block | Vandalism

9:06 p.m. A resident reported that someone shot out the windows of her home. She stated that there was minor damage to the window by the front door and that she thought the shooter might have used a .22 or a BB pellet. The suspect is unknown.

N Coast Hwy | 100 Block | Bench Warrant

5:13 p.m. Reese Mitchel Westenberger, 53, Laguna Beach, was arrested for a bench warrant for shoplifting. According to LBPD’s arrest log, bail was set at $25,000.

Parked on ocean side of Coast Hwy | Bench Warrant

2:33 p.m. Joseph Matthew Olivas, 35, Trabucco Canyon, was arrested for a bench warrant for driving without a valid driver’s license. Bail was set at $1,500.

S Coast Hwy| 1700 Block | Bench Warrants

1:03 p.m. Maria Cortez Rodriguez, 46, Laguna Niguel, was arrested on two outstanding warrants, a DUI (bail was set at $10,000) and for driving with a suspended license (bail was set at $2,500). It was reported that “two females were seen drinking beer seated on a planter box in the parking lot, under a tree,” LBPD Spokesperson, Emergency Services Coordinator, Jordan Villwock said. The RP said there has been an issue with increased loitering, drinking, and leaving trash behind in the area, and that they usually see a lot of trash in the morning and would like to see patrol cars in the area during the night.

Forest Ave| 500 Block | Battery

12:41 p.m. Raquel Rodriguez, 46, Newport Beach, was arrested for battery. Bail was set at $10,000.

S Coast Hwy| 600 Block | Bench Warrants

2:07 a.m. Timothy Patrick Ahern, 49, Scottsdale, AZ, was arrested for two bench warrants. Bails were set at $10,000 and $2,500. 

Bluebird Canyon Drive & S Coast Hwy | Driving on a Suspended or Revoked Driver’s License

1:17 a.m. Christian Ibsem Ho, 34, Hacienda Heights, was arrested for driving on a suspended or revoked without a valid driver’s license. Bail was set at $500.

Broadway Street & Beach Street | DUI, Driving with a Blood Alcohol Content 0.08% or Higher, Driving without a Valid Driver’s License

12:30 a.m. A 23-year-old San Juan Capistrano man was arrested on suspicion of DUI (bail was set at $2,500), driving with a blood alcohol content of 0.08% or higher (bail was set at $2,500), and driving without a valid driver’s license (bail was set at $500).

Coast Hwy| 30800 Block | Under the Influence of a Controlled Substance

12:17 a.m. Luis Enrique Yebra, 56, Fontana, was arrested for being under the influence of a controlled substance. Bail was set at $1,000.

Thursday, July 19

Laguna Canyon Road | 20600 Block| Trespassing

9:44 p.m. Kenneth Lee Koestler, 43, Laguna Beach, was arrested for trespassing. Bail was set at $500.

Bluebird Canyon Drive & S Coast Hwy | DUI

7:38 p.m. A 57-year-old San Clemente woman was arrested on suspicion of DUI. Bail was set at $2,500.

Bluebird Canyon Drive | 200 Block| Disorderly Conduct

4:13 a.m. A 24-year-old Laguna Beach man was arrested for disorderly conduct. Bail was set at $500.

N Coast Hwy | 100 Block | DUI

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

Wednesday, July 18

St Anns Drive | 300 Block | Bench Warrants

10:16 p.m. Scott Foresman Armstrong, 55, Laguna Beach, was arrested with an outstanding bench warrant (bail was set at $2,500) and a second bench warrant (bail was set at $1,500). 

Balboa Ave | 800 Block | DUI, Driving with a Blood Alcohol Content 0.08% or Higher

6:22 p.m. An 18-year-old Foothill Ranch man was arrested on suspicion of DUI (bail was set at $2,500) and driving with a blood alcohol content of .08 percent or higher (bail was set at $2,500).

Canyon Acres Drive | 100 Block | Possession of a Narcotic Controlled Substance, Possession of Controlled Substance Paraphernalia

6:09 p.m. Evan Garrett Miller, 31, Laguna Beach, was arrested for being in possession of a narcotic controlled substance (bail was set at $500) and controlled substance paraphernalia (bail was set at $500).

Canyon Acres Drive | 100 Block | Possession of a Narcotic Controlled Substance, Possession of Controlled Substance Paraphernalia

6:09 p.m. Veronica Faith Parker, 28, Laguna Beach, was arrested for being in possession of a narcotic controlled substance (bail was set at $500) and controlled substance paraphernalia (bail was set at $500). 

Broadway Street | 300 Block | Parole Violation

2:05 p.m. Ralph Bowers, 48, Laguna Beach was arrested for parole violation. No bail was set.

N Coast Hwy| 200 Block | Disorderly Conduct – Alcohol

1:39 p.m. A 22-year-old San Clemente man was arrested for disorderly conduct related to alcohol. Bail was set at $500.


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.


Incident Reports

Tuesday, July 17

Bluemont Street| 500 Block | Bench Warrant

2:14 a.m. Robert Kenneth Berglund, 55, Santa Ana, was arrested for an outstanding felony bench warrant. Bail was not indicated in the arrest report.

Cliff Drive| 300 Block | Disorderly Conduct – Alcohol

12:40 p.m. A 67-year-old Laguna Beach man was arrested for disorderly conduct related to alcohol, on his birthday. Bail was set at $500.

Glenneyre Street| 800 Block | Disorderly Conduct – Alcohol, Obstructing or Resisting an Executive Officer

5:56 p.m. Jeffery Donald Cates, 57, Los Angeles, was arrested for disorderly conduct related to alcohol (bail was set at $500) and felony obstructing or resisting an executive officer (bail was set at $25,000).

S. Coast Hwy| 400 Block | Disorderly Conduct – Alcohol

9:38 p.m. A 40-year-old Los Angeles man was arrested for disorderly conduct related to alcohol. Bail was set at $500.

Laguna Canyon Road | 20300 Block | DUI

10:36 p.m. A 53-year-old Anaheim man was arrested on suspicion of DUI. Bail was set at $2,500.

Monday, July 16

S. Coast Hwy| 1100 Block | Disorderly Conduct – Alcohol

1:25 a.m. A 60-year-old Laguna Beach woman was arrested for disorderly conduct related to alcohol. Bail was set at $500.

S. Coast Hwy| 100 Block | Outstanding Warrant

2:31 a.m. Donald Douglas Kramer, 46, Laguna Beach, was arrested for a bench warrant. Bail was set at $200,000.

S. Coast Hwy| 1200 Block | Bench Warrant

12:52 p.m. Michael Hays Matekel, 29, Laguna Beach, was arrested for an outstanding felony bench warrant. Bail was set at $10,000.

Forest Ave| 200 Block | Bench Warrant, Disorderly Conduct – Alcohol

12:52 p.m. Sean Patrick Eskeli, 55, Laguna Beach, was arrested for a bench warrant (bail was set at $1,500) and for disorderly conduct related to alcohol (bail was set at $500).

Laguna Canyon Road | 20600 Block | Possession of a Controlled Substance, Possession of Controlled Substance Paraphernalia

4:10 p.m. Allan Neville Friant, 39, Laguna Beach, was arrested for being in possession of a controlled substance (bail was set at $500) and controlled substance paraphernalia (bail was set at $500).

Laguna Canyon Road | 20600 Block | Possession of a Narcotic Controlled Substance, Possession of Controlled Substance Paraphernalia

4:10 p.m. Anita Marie Novak, 39, Sterling Heights, MI, was arrested for being in possession of a narcotic controlled substance (bail was set at $500) and controlled substance paraphernalia (bail was set at $500).

Coast Hwy | 31100 Block | Possession of a Controlled Substance Without a Prescription, Possession of a Controlled Substance 

8:59 p.m. Sarah Anne Alwan, 27, Colton, CA, was arrested for being in possession of a controlled substance without a prescription and possession of a controlled substance. Bail was set at $500.

Coast Hwy | 31100 Block | Battery on a Peace Officer

8:59 p.m. Neyzza Mendoza, 25, Huntington Park, was arrested for battery on a police officer, emergency personnel, etc. Bail was set at $500.

Sunday, July 15

Wesley Drive & Coast Hwy | DUI, Driving with a Blood Alcohol Content 0.08% or Higher

1:28 a.m. A 24-year-old Murrieta man was arrested on suspicion of DUI (bail was set at $2,500) and for driving with a blood alcohol content of .08 percent or higher (bail was set at $2,500).

Broadway Street & coast Highway | Vehicle Theft

2:08 a.m. Miguel Castaneda, 38, Inglewood, was arrested for vehicle theft, taking a vehicle without the owner’s consent. Officers were alerted to a stolen vehicle entering the city limits by way of Laguna Canyon Road. The vehicle was stolen from the city of Inglewood. The vehicle was observed at Forest Avenue and Broadway and occupied by one individual. Officers conducted a high-risk vehicle stop at Broadway and Coast Highway. “The driver, identified as Miguel Castaneda, was arrested for possession of a stolen vehicle. He chose to “plead the fifth” when questioned about the stolen vehicle. He was booked and transported to OCJ,” according to LBPD Spokesperson PIO Sgt Jim Cota. Bail was set at $20,000. “If you choose to come to Laguna Beach in a stolen vehicle, you will be found and arrested. Our officers are just the best in the business at locating stolen vehicle’s,” Sgt Cota added.   

Thalia Street & Glenneyre Street | DUI – Drugs, Possession of Controlled Substance Paraphernalia

9:08 a.m. A 38-year-old Laguna Hills woman was arrested on suspicion of DUI – drugs (bail was set at $2,500) and for being in possession of a controlled substance paraphernalia (bail was set at $500).

S. Coast Hwy | 100 Block | Parole Violation

10:55 a.m. Michael Patrick Cohen, 46, Laguna Beach was arrested for parole violation. Bail was not listed.

S. Coast Hwy | 1500 Block | Warrants

3:04 p.m. Christopher Brian Lawson, 29, Laguna Niguel was arrested for two outstanding bench warrants. Bail was set at $2,500 each.

Broadway Street | 300 Block | Resisting Arrest

6:38 p.m. Christian Dale Gaddis, 51, Lake Forest, was arrested for resisting arrest. Bail was set at $500.

Broadway Street & N. Coast Hwy | DUI

9:50 p.m. A 25-year-old Westminster man was arrested on suspicion of DUI. Bail was set at $2,500.

S. Coast Hwy| 1400 Block | Disorderly Conduct Alcohol

9:21 p.m. A 42-year-old Florida man was arrested for disorderly conduct, alcohol. Bail was set at $500.


Incident Reports

Tuesday, July 24

Laguna Canyon Road | 20600 Block | Possession of a Controlled Substance, Possession of Controlled Substance Paraphernalia 

8:21 p.m. Vincent Lombardi Hassell, 44, Greenville, WI, was arrested for being in possession of a controlled substance (bail was set at $500) and possession of a controlled substance paraphernalia (bail was set at $500).

Laguna Ave | 200 Block | DUI, Driving with a Blood Alcohol Content 0.08% or Higher

8:17 p.m. A 26-year-old Beaumont man was arrested on suspicion of DUI (bail was set at $2,500) and driving with a blood alcohol content of 0.08% or higher (bail was set at $2,500).

Arroyo Drive | 1600 Block | Animal Call, Rattlesnake

6:25 p.m. A baby rattlesnake was reported on the RP’s steps, but was gone on arrival after the call.

Cliff Drive | 800 Block | H & S Activity

6:23 p.m. LBPD received a call that kids were smoking pot across the street. LBPD went to check out the situation and no violations were seen.

Monday, July 23

Balboa Ave | 29900 Block | Animal Call, Rattlesnake

6:25 p.m. LBPD received a call that there was a baby rattlesnake on the black pavement next to the grass where the kids and pets are.

Coast Hwy | 31900 Block | Parole Violation

2:05 p.m. Shawn Michael Juan Rosales, 21, El Monte, was arrested for violating a court order for domestic violence and parole violation. No bail was set.

Coast Hwy | 600 Block | Disorderly Conduct – Soliciting a Lewd Act

2:01 p.m. Leslie Jan Shacklett, 56, Laguna Beach, was arrested for disorderly contact, soliciting a lewd act. Bail was set at $1,000.

Coast Hwy | 600 Block | Disorderly Conduct – Soliciting a Lewd Act

2:01 p.m. Arash Rahimi, 39, Laguna Beach, was arrested for disorderly contact, soliciting a lewd act. Bail was set at $1,000.

Van Dyke Drive | 900 Block | Wires Down

9:40 a.m. LBPD received reports that on Friday, a construction truck had pulled down some wires, possibly a telephone wire. The RP stated that in the past it took several days for the phone company to respond and fix the issue. According to her, no one called on Friday for a response.

Doormoor Street & Hillcrest Drive | Animal Call, Mountain Lion

9:40 a.m. LBPD received reports of a mountain lion in the area 30 minutes prior. There were no further details available.

Laguna Canyon Road | 20600 Block | DUI (drugs)

8:30 a.m. A 34-year-old Coto de Caza woman was arrested on suspicion of DUI related to drugs. Bail was set at $2,500.

Coast Hwy | 600 Block | Domestic Violence

8:02 a.m. Kimberly Ivy Gold, 49, Laguna Beach, was arrested for domestic violence, injuring a spouse, cohabitant or fellow parent in an act of domestic violence. Bail was set at $50,000.

S Coast Hwy | 1100 Block |  Possession of a Narcotic Controlled Substance, 

2:07 a.m. Lisandro Martinez, 61, Mira Loma, was arrested for being in possession of a narcotic controlled substance. Bail was set at $500.

N Coast Hwy| 200 Block | Disorderly Conduct – Alcohol

11:53 p.m. An 18-year-old Laguna Beach woman was arrested for disorderly conduct, alcohol. Bail was set at $500.

N Coast Hwy| 200 Block | Disorderly Conduct – Drugs

12:11 a.m. A 24-year-old Laguna Beach man was arrested for disorderly conduct, drugs. Bail was set at $500.

Sunday, July 22

3rd Ave & Mar Vista Ave | Disorderly Conduct – Alcohol

11:53 p.m. An 18-year-old Laguna Beach resident was arrested for disorderly conduct, alcohol. Bail was set at $500.

Broadway Street | 200 Block | Bench Warrant

10:59 p.m. Ernesto Flores Solano, 35, Santa Ana, was arrested for a bench warrant related to driving without a license (bail was set at at $2,500) and for making an illegal turn crossing a double parallel solid yellow lines (bail was set at $500).

N Coast Hwy | 100 Block | Possession of a Controlled Substance Without a Prescription, Driving on a Suspended or Revoked Driver’s License

7:09 p.m. Marcus Anthony Iribarne, 19, Laguna Niguel, was arrested for being in possession of a controlled substance without a prescription (bail was set at $500) and for driving on a suspended or revoked without a valid driver’s license (bail was set at $500).

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

2:49 p.m. Tatum McCall Wadle, 24, Luling, TX, was arrested for being in possession of a controlled substance (bail was set at $500) and controlled substance paraphernalia (bail was set at $500).

Laguna Canyon Road & Hwy | Possession of a Controlled Substance Without a Prescription, DUI (drugs) 

10:02 a.m. Briana Burke Lee, 34, Coto de Caza, was arrested for being in possession of a controlled substance without a prescription (bail was set at $500) on suspicion of DUI related to drugs (bail was set at $2,500).

Laguna Canyon Road | 20600 Block | Bench Warrant

9:37 a.m. Travis Burton Elsasser, 28, Costa Mesa, was arrested for a bench warrant for not being arraigned. Bail was set at $2,500.

Via Majorica | 800 Block | Animal Call, Dog

8:56 a.m. LBPD received a call about a large dog that had “almost nipped at the neighbor” a few days prior and was “back again.” The dog, whose breed was unknown, was reportedly “also known to be in the neighborhood off leash.”

Ocean Ave | 200 Block | Disorderly Conduct – Alcohol

1:33 a.m. A 23-year-old Palos Verdes man was arrested for disorderly conduct, alcohol. Bail was set at $500.


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, July 14

Forest Ave| 200 Block | Disorderly Conduct – Alcohol

9:23 p.m. A 32-year-old Mission Viejo man was arrested for disorderly conduct related to alcohol. Bail was set at $500.

Coast Hwy| 31100 Block | DUI

8:55 p.m. A 55-year-old Laguna Beach man was arrested on suspicion of DUI. Bail was set at $2,500.

Temple Hills Drive| 1300 Block | DUI

8:34 p.m. A 65-year-old Laguna Beach man was arrested on suspicion of DUI. Bail was set at $2,500.

Forest Ave| 200 Block | Disorderly Conduct – Alcohol

6:22 p.m. A 55-year-old Laguna Beach man was arrested for disorderly conduct related to alcohol. Bail was set at $500.

Glenneyre Street| 400 Block | Trespassing, Resisting Arrest

6:09 p.m. Leigh Alan Perry, 59, Laguna Niguel, was arrested for trespassing (bail was set at $500) and resisting arrest (bail was set at $500). 

S. Coast Hwy | 100 Block | Missing Children

5:37 p.m. An 8-year-old boy with brown hair and blue eyes wearing red swim trunks and a 17-year-old male wearing a blue Hawaiian shirt were reported missing. They were reunited with their parents five minutes later at 5:42 p.m.

S. Coast Hwy & Legion Street | Disorderly Conduct – Alcohol

2:35 p.m. A 25-year-old Fontana man and a 25-year-old Placentia woman were both arrested for disorderly conduct related to alcohol. Bail was set at $500 each.

Myrtle Street & N. Coast Hwy | Marijuana Possession

12:43 a.m. A 36-year-old Laguna Niguel man was arrested for illegal marijuana possession. Bail was set at $500.

State Hwy 73 & Greenfield Drive | DUI

12:32 a.m. A 29-year-old Garden Grove man arrested on suspicion of DUI. Bail was set at $2,500.

Forest Ave| 500 Block | Suspicious Person

11:24 a.m. The RP called to report a suspicious man was filming children. He was described as a white male with reddish hair. He was dressed in all black, including his shirt, jeans, shoes and sunglasses. He was advised by LBPD to stop and to get off the property.

Friday, July 13

S. Coast Hwy & Ocean Ave | Bench Warrant

9:54 p.m. Riley Michael McLendon, 44, Huntington Beach, was arrested for an outstanding bench warrant. Bail was set at $500. 

El Bosque & Catalina Street | Warrant, Driving on Suspended License

6:24 p.m. Carlos Lopez Rodas, 48, Santa Ana, was arrested for an outstanding warrant (bail was set at $10,000) and driving with a suspended license (bail was set at $500).

Unknown location | Emergency

5:58 p.m. A person called twice from the beach to report that a dog was possibly in distress in the water. The RP was told that lifeguards were already on scene with the dog owner and Marine Safety had been called to help rescue the dog.

Coast Hwy | 31100 Block | Threats

3:44 p.m. It was reported that a 17-year-old girl and her 16-year-old boyfriend were saving a firepit when adults threatened to “beat her up.” LBPD spoke to the adults who were reportedly threatening her earlier regarding a different incident. She called to have officers check and make sure everything was ok. The parents showed up. According to reports, the group of adults was unfriendly and uncooperative.

Laguna Canyon Road | 20600 Block | Possession of Narcotics, Possession of Controlled Substance Paraphernalia

2:57 a.m. Kenneth Lee Koestler, 48, Laguna Beach, was arrested for being in possession of narcotics (bail was set at $500) and controlled substance paraphernalia (bail was set at $500).

Coast Hwy | 31300 Block| Bench Warrant

12:13 a.m. Randal Robert Owings, 48, Tustin, was arrested for an outstanding bench warrant. Bail was set at $500. 

Thursday, July 12

St. Ann’s Drive | 100 Block | Under the Influence of a Controlled Substance 

6:37 p.m. Amando Javier Chavez Sandoval, 36, Lake Forest, was arrested for on suspicion of being under the influence of a controlled substance. Bail was set at $500.

Mar Vista Way | 1400 Block | Burglary 

2:50 p.m. A woman reported that jewelry and small amounts of cash were taken while she was away. Estimated loss is reported to be between $60,000 and $100,000.

St. Ann’s Drive | 300 Block | Possession of a Controlled Substance, Possession of Controlled Substance Paraphernalia

9:08 a.m. Manuel Omar Garncia, 36, Laguna Beach, was arrested for being in possession of a controlled substance (bail was set at $500) and controlled substance paraphernalia (bail was set at $500).

Wednesday, July 11

Eagle Rock Way | 31500 Block | Battery of Spouse/Ex-Spouse/Date

9:18 p.m. Thomas Andrew Seaman, 61, Laguna Beach, was arrested on suspicion of battery of a spouse, ex-spouse or date. Bail was set at $10,000.

Circle Way | 1300 Block| Missing Child

4:51 p.m. A 6-year-old girl was found at the North Crescent Bay Tower. The girl who was reported missing was wearing a two-piece blue swimsuit with white polka dots. She was reunited with her parents four minutes later at 4:56 p.m.

Marine Drive | 1100 Block| Property Damage

6:21 p.m. It was reported that a large tree fell on top of two cars. Limbs were cut back by Public Works, who also tried to contact the owners of the cars.

Shreve Drive | 000 Block| Warrant

4:12 p.m. Mark John Obymachow, 21, Seal Beach, was arrested for an outstanding warrant. Bail was set at $500. 

S. Coast Hwy | 100 Block| | Disorderly Conduct – Alcohol

11:45 a.m. A 55-year-old Laguna Beach man was arrested for disorderly conduct related to alcohol. Bail was set at $500.

Lookout Drive | 300 Block| Animal Call

10:26 a.m. A RP called to report that a tarantula was outside, in front of the garage. The spider was released.

Arroyo Drive | 1600 Block | Possession of Controlled Substance Paraphernalia

9:36 a.m. Michael Chandler Brooks, 34, Laguna Beach, was arrested for being in possession of controlled substance paraphernalia. Bail was set at $500.


Incident Reports

Tuesday, July 31

S Coast Hwy | 300 Block | Defrauding an Innkeeper

4:14 p.m. Cary Wayne Welch, 42, Lahaina, HI, was arrested for defrauding an innkeeper of $400 or less. Bail was set at $500.

N Coast Hwy & Broadway Street | Riding Bicycle Under the Influence of Alcohol and/or Drugs, Resisting Arrest 

2:44 p.m. Arthur Anthony Moreno, 63, Laguna Beach, was arrested on suspicion of riding a bicycle under the influence of alcohol and/or drugs (bail was set at $500) and resisting arrest (bail was set at $500).

Broadway Street | 300 Block | Parole Violation

12:48 a.m. Ralph Francis Bowers, 48, Huntington Beach, was arrested on a parole violation. No bail was set.

Monday, July 30

S Coast Hwy | 100 Block | Battery

6:41 p.m. Luis Enrique Yebra, 56, Fontana, was arrested for suspected battery. Bail was set at $500.

S Coast Hwy | 100 Block | Bench Warrants, Driving with a Suspended License, Driving without Proof of Insurance

4:13 p.m. Raul Miguel Martinez, 22, Cathedral City, was arrested on outstanding bench warrants, driving with a suspended license, and driving without proof of insurance. Bail was set at $35,000.

S Coast Hwy | 100 Block | Bench Warrant

11:52 a.m. Sean Patrick Eskeli, 55, Laguna Beach, was arrested on an outstanding bench warrant. Bail was set at $10,000.

Sunday, July 29

S Coast Hwy | 400 Block | Possession of Controlled Substance Paraphernalia, Bench Warrant 8:48 p.m. Matthew Stephens Higgins, 27, Amarillo, TX, was arrested for being in possession of controlled substance paraphernalia (bail was set at $500) and a bench warrant (bail was set at $2,500).

Park Ave | 200 Block |  DUI, Driving with a Blood Alcohol Content 0.08% or Higher

3:36 a.m. A 22-year-old Long Beach man was arrested on suspicion of DUI (bail was set at $2,500), driving with a blood alcohol content of 0.08% or higher (bail was set at $2,500.)

S Coast Hwy & Legion Street |  Throwing Object at/from Vehicle

2:55 p.m. The RP reported that the driver of a white Tesla, in an apparent road rage incident, threw an unknown object at the RP’s vehicle resulting in scratches to her vehicle.

Coast Hwy & West Street | DUI, Driving with a Blood Alcohol Content 0.08% or Higher

1:34 a.m. A 24-year-old Huntington Beach man was arrested on suspicion of DUI (bail was set at $2,500), driving with a blood alcohol content of 0.08% or higher (bail was set at $2,500).

N Coast Hwy & Broadway Street | Brandishing a Weapn

12:15 a.m. A caller reported that a man in a gray truck, who had been cutting off vehicles, got out of his car and pull out a knife at the RP after the RP honked at him. The suspect was unable to be located.


Incident Reports

Tuesday, Aug 7

S Coast Hwy | 1100 Block | Domestic Violence

11:15 p.m. Sean Patrick Minney, 30, Laguna Beach, was arrested on suspicion of domestic violence with minor injury, a felony. Bail was set at $50,000.

S Coast Hwy | 30900 Block | Receiving Stolen Goods

6:08 a.m. Manuel Omar Garncia, 36, Laguna Beach, was arrested for receiving stolen goods valued at $950 or less. Bail was set at $500.

Monday, Aug 6

Shady Lane | 28700 Block | Domestic Violence

7:28 a.m. Jeffery Scot Angus, 52, Laguna Beach, was arrested on suspicion of domestic violence with minor injury, a felony. Bail was set at $50,000.

Sunday, Aug 5

Cress Street | 700 Block | DUI, Possession of a Controlled Substance without a Prescription, Possession of a Controlled Substance 

8:33 p.m. Karen Leslie Hoefer, 43, San Juan Capistrano, was arrested on suspicion of DUI (bail was set at $2,500), for being in possession of a narcotic controlled substance (bail was set at $500), and possession of a controlled substance (bail was set at $500).

Laguna Canyon Road | 2400 Block | DUI, Driving with a Blood Alcohol Content 0.08% or Higher

3:22 a.m. A 47-year-old Santa Ana woman was arrested on suspicion of DUI (bail was set at $2,500), and driving with a blood alcohol content of 0.08% or higher (bail was set at $2,500).

Forest Lane | 200 Block | Resisting Arrest

2:50 a.m. Victor Fernandez Herrera, 23, Aliso Viejo, was arrested for resisting arrest. Bail was set at $500.

S Coast Hwy & Montage Resort Drive | Resisting Arrest, Battery on a Peace Officer, Threatening a Peace Officer

2:10 a.m. Jason Charles Dunkel, 38, Laguna Beach, was arrested for resisting arrest, battery on a peace officer and threatening a peace officer. Bail was set at $20,000.


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

Stalker sneaks into Laguna home, wakes resident, is arrested

Laguna Beach Police Officers responded to a residence after one of the occupants awoke to find a man in her room. He was identified as 28-year-old Gregory Murray of Laguna Beach, someone that the occupant’s sister, who lives in the same home, dated for just a few few months back in 2015. 

Since that time, Murray reportedly sent more than 150 harassing emails to the woman he’d dated, as well as threatening text messages and messages over social media to the victim and members of her family, as recently as March 2017.    

When LBPD officers interviewed Murray on June 23 at his home, he confessed to stalking. He was arrested without incident for stalking, criminal threats and burglary. He was booked into Orange County Jail where he is being held on $50,000 bail.  

“The Laguna Beach Police Department encourages victims of domestic violence to report incidents to local law enforcement,” said LBPD spokesperson Sgt Jim Cota. “Call the Laguna Beach Police Department or The National Domestic Violence Hotline at 1-800-799-SAFE (7233).”


Police Files

ID theft suspect is ID’d, still being sought

Detective Jordan Mirakian, financial crimes, who was a key part of the investigative team leading to federal charges being brought against Laguna embezzler Elizabeth Mulder, is currently working on another case of identity theft/check fraud that occurred at the Bank of America in Laguna Beach. (Mulder will be sentenced October 16 and is facing 23 years in prison.)

“Seems things are getting quite interesting,” according to Detective Sergeant Jim Cota, who says that tips from the public have been a great help. 

Det Mirakian says he’s ID’d the suspect, but added, “I don’t know if she knows that yet. She has an open case from the Sheriff’s Department, similar circumstances, so I am working with the District Attorney and the Sheriff’s Department to prosecute that case with our case. She seems to be living out of motels so finding her may be a bit tricky, but we will eventually find her.”

 

Do you know this man?

LBPD needs residents’ help in identifying the man in this photo. Call them at 949-497-0370 if you recognize him. 

“He was captured on video surveillance stealing two, 2016 Commencal Meta Trail Ride 650B mountain bikes from the Aliso Creek Golf Course back in mid-May,” Cota said. “The bikes are orange and black and are estimated to have a value of $2,200 per bike.”  LBPD are hoping that this photo will help them nab the thief.


Man says he doesn’t feel well, likely feels worse after cops arrive

Braden Bolton, 38, walked into Brussels Bistro on Forest Ave on June 18 complaining that he was not feeling well. 

He no doubt felt even worse a little while later after making threatening gestures and statements and finding himself under arrest for being drunk in public and resisting arrest. Bail was set at $20,000.

 

How to avoid becoming a victim of identity theft

To prevent identity theft happening to you, Det Mirakian offers these five key tips:

Don’t respond to unsolicited requests for personal information (your name, birthdate, social security number, or bank account number) by phone, mail, or online. 

Collect mail promptly. Ask the post office to put your mail on hold when you are away from home for several days. 

Review your receipts. Promptly compare receipts with account statements.

Watch for unauthorized transactions.

Shred receipts, credit offers, account statements, and expired cards, to prevent “dumpster divers” from getting your personal information.

Store personal information in a safe place at home and at work.

“I’d say the most important tip I have is shredding documents and regularly checking your mail for credit offers,” Mirakian says. “We have seen an uptick in mail theft and identity thieves have been known to dig through trash to find important ID information.  

“Identities are sold person to person for a value nowadays, so it’s incredibly important to avoid leaving personal information on paperwork or other applications without shredding it first.”


Police Files

IRS scammers are at it again

Be wary of phone calls from individuals who claim to be from the IRS. A recent Laguna Beach victim provided $2,600 worth of Walmart gift cards to callers who said they were from the IRS.

Often, these phone calls are accompanied by threats of imprisonment. 

According to the IRS website, the IRS “does not threaten taxpayers with lawsuit, imprisonment or other enforcement action.” In addition, the IRS will not ask for gift cards or other prepaid cards.

If you are in doubt about the legitimacy of a phone call, hang up and find and call the agency’s official phone number. Or, contact a tax professional. 

 

Man mugged off Coast Hwy

At 5:15 on Saturday morning, an Uber driver picked up a fare in the 31100 block of Coast Hwy and took the man to Mission Hospital. 

The driver reported that his rider had been beaten up by another man. His wallet with $140 in cash, a driver’s license and a debit card was stolen. 

No suspect information was available.


Police Files

Robbery arrest made at Husky Boy Burgers

At 3 p.m. on Wednesday, June 14, officers received a call that a robbery had just occurred at the Mobil gas station in the 100 block of N. Coast Hwy. 

“Four suspects entered the gas station and took beverages from the store,” said Sgt. James Cota, LBPD spokesperson. “When they were confronted by the sales clerk, one of the four struck him in the face and took his cell phone. They fled in a Chevy Camaro.” The crime was captured on surveillance video.

An immediate area search was conducted and the suspect vehicle was located at the Husky Boy Burgers parking lot. Inside the vehicle were four juveniles and one adult, all from San Bernardino County. The four juveniles were taken into custody; one of them (the main aggressor) was charged with Robbery, Theft, and Assault.

According to Emergency Operations Coordinator of the LBPD, Jordan Villwock, at no time did the police department believe the community was at risk. 

Detectives identify individuals responsible for rash of vehicle burglaries

On June 3, LBPD Officers responded to multiple vehicle burglary reports throughout North Laguna Beach. LBPD Detectives were called in to assist with the investigation. During their follow-up two suspects were identified in the case, Rachel Alvarez and Johnny Cervantez.

LBPD booking photos

Rachel Alvarez and Johnny Cervantez

On June 8, LBPD Detectives went to the City of Redlands and interviewed Alvarez, and she confessed to her involvement in the burglaries and relinquished the stolen property in her possession. The stolen property included a laptop that belonged to a schoolteacher, which contained the only copy of her student’s grades.  

Alvarez and Cervantez were booked for possession of stolen property, drug, and theft related charges. Alvarez has already plead guilty and was sentenced to 30 days in jail, three years of probation, and was ordered to pay restitution. 

This investigation is ongoing, and LBPD Detectives are still pursuing additional suspects in this case. 

“In almost all of these cases, the victims left their vehicles unlocked. Crooks enjoy the path of least resistance, and it is much easier to target victims who do not protect their property. The best way to prevent crimes of opportunity is to secure your belongings and hide valuables from the public view,” said Captain Jeff Calvert.

Anyone with information related to this case is encouraged to contact Sergeant Jim Cota at (949) 464-6671 or This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.. To submit tips anonymously, please contact Crime Stoppers at 855-TIP-OCCS or 855-847-6227. You can also reach Crime Stoppers online at www.crimestoppers.org.


Police Files

Serial car thief caught: more individuals under investigation

Laguna Beach Police officers located and arrested one of a group of individuals who have been committing thefts from vehicles in the city.

22-year-old Johnny Cervantez from San Bernardino was arrested on Saturday for receipt of stolen property, conspiracy to commit a crime, possession of a controlled substance, and possession of drug paraphernalia. 

Officers are still investigating the thefts. Stu News Laguna will provide more information once it is available. 

Dog gets involved in arrest: is rescued by LBPD

An interesting side-note from the LBPD’s Facebook page related to the San Bernardino search: While serving a search warrant, detectives came across an eight-week-old German Shepherd, who had obvious injuries to its legs and paws and was not being properly cared for. 

The owners of the dog said they didn’t want him and also said they had been trying to get rid of him, but because of his injuries no one would take him. Working with a local rescue, detectives arranged to have the dog surrendered for adoption. 

From LBPD Facebook page

German Shepherd puppy is rescued thanks to LBPD detectives

Detectives did this while recovering stolen property from the house and identifying additional suspects in the case. The LBPD says they are happy to report that the owners voluntarily turned over the dog to rescuers and he is now healthy and preparing to be adopted, thanks to the excellent work of Sgt. Cota, Cpl Sendele, Ashton, Gensemer and Officers Mirakian and Ocampo. 

 

$5 million+ of software, camera equipment taken from a truck

Overnight on Thursday, a truck parked in the 400 block of Jasmine Street was entered. The owner discovered the door cracked open, but no damage to the car.

Missing was $15,000 in cash as well as approximately $5 million in computer software.

“The investigations division is looking into the incident to identify any suspects,” said Sgt. James Cota, LBPD spokesperson.


Police Files

Laguna Beach resident charged with defrauding Orange County businesses of more than $1.5 million

On January 26, 2016, LBPD Economic Crimes Detectives began a fraud investigation against Elizabeth Mulder, a resident of Laguna Beach, after a local business owner identified Mulder as his accountant and alleged that Mulder embezzled $200,000 from his wine business, JAC Wines.

The investigation revealed that between July 2009 and May 2016, Mulder devised and executed a scheme to defraud and obtain money from small businesses by gaining the trust of their owners, some of whom allowed her to gain control over their financial accounts. In total, Mulder embezzled over $1.5 million from her victims, according to documents filed in federal court.

When sentenced, Mulder faces up to 23 years in prison.

A victim talks about her experience with the embezzler

Among her victims was JoAnn Kurtz-Ahlers, president of Kurtz-Ahlers & Associates, an upscale travel agency based in San Juan Capistrano. 

Kurtz-Ahlers tells StuNewsLaguna that she thought everything was going smoothly during the five years, 2011 – 2016, that Elizabeth Mulder acted as her accountant, primarily handling income tax issues for Kurtz-Ahlers’ upscale travel agency.

Then Kurtz-Ahlers found out that all the money she thought she’d paid to the IRS had disappeared into Mulder’s pocket. 

“I was in shock. I’d known Elizabeth Mulder’s mother, Alice Whynaught, for years, which made me feel quite comfortable hiring her daughter,” Kurtz-Ahlers said. “To be honest, I admired Elizabeth, I thought she was a terrific entrepreneur, very successful – meanwhile she was a skillful manipulator. She took advantage of her mother’s connections to get clients and then embezzle from them.”

Along with the shock of realizing her funds had been embezzled, Kurtz-Ahlers still has to deal with IRS. They expect Kurtz-Ahlers to pay what she owed for those five years – plus penalties and fines – and it is taking a great deal of negotiation to come to a settlement with the IRS.  

Skillful, yes, but in deception, not finance

“Elizabeth came across as someone who was sincere and really wanted to help you. Plus she had so many clients, I thought she must be good at what she did. That’s what everyone thought.”

But Mulder was in the process of embezzling what would turn out to be 1.5 million dollars from clients who trusted her. She was good at what she did – except her skill was in theft.

“Police detective Jordan Mirakian of the Laguna Beach Police Department was amazing,” Kurtz-Ahlers says. “We all went to him in a group and he was diligent about taking the information about every case. She was quite inventive in the different ways she took advantage of her clients.”

Search warrants executed by LBPD Detectives at the Mulder residence and her bank accounts revealed additional victim businesses throughout Orange County. These companies included Toni & Guy Hair Salon (Newport Beach), Kurtz-Ahlers LLC (San Juan Capistrano), Bella Pilates (San Clemente), Andra Builders, Inc. (Costa Mesa), and California Print 2 Copy (Irvine).

Mulder deceived clients into making checks payable to a phony business she created called “Income Tax Payments,” under the guise that those payments would satisfy the clients’ outstanding IRS tax obligations. She also created false personas as representatives and/or investors of companies to lead her clients to believe various expenses were being paid for the benefit of the business.

LBPD “brought in every available resource”

“This investigation serves as a reminder that our police department will pursue individuals in positions of trust who take advantage of innocent victims. We brought in every available resource, including our partners from the Federal Government, to ensure that this case would be appropriately prosecuted and justice would be served,” said Captain Jeff Calvert, LBPD.

Mulder used the money embezzled from the victims for a variety of personal expenses including a rental home in Laguna Beach, cosmetic surgery, personal vacations, living expenses, horse rentals and the purchase of horse equipment.

This case was investigated by the Laguna Beach Police Department Investigations Division, with assistance from the Federal Bureau of Investigation, the IRS Criminal Investigation, and the United States Attorney.

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..

 

Two helicopter rescues in two days

The Fire Department has been busy this week. On Wednesday, June 8, at 2:57 p.m., the Department received a call from the 600 block of Diamond Street. A construction worker had fallen from a construction site. 

 

Click on photo for a larger image

Photo courtesy of LB Fire Department

Helicopter rescue in progress

The lack of stairs made it impossible to reach him other than by helicopter, and moving the patient was critical due to the extent of his injuries. 

Click on photo for a larger image

Photo courtesy of LB Fire Department

Patient is safely en route to the hospital thanks to our firefighters and the OCFA

The Fire Department, working with the OC Fire Authority, was able to hover and then drop someone down to rescue the patient and deliver him to Mission Hospital.

Golfers hear call for help

Then on Thursday morning at 9 a.m., golfers at The Ranch at Laguna Beach reported hearing calls for help from a steep hillside.  Access to the person was impossible by foot and the patient was unable to move due to a foot injury.  

Working again with the OCFA, Laguna Beach Fire Department deployed a “short haul” approach to airlift him to the hospital in Mission Viejo.

 

Stolen vehicle leads to chase, spike strips deployed

Laguna Beach Police were alerted to a stolen vehicle located at Forest Avenue and Laguna Canyon Road. The driver, Juan Gutierrez, chose to flee in the vehicle through the downtown area without stopping. 

The vehicle ultimately headed north to Newport Beach. With the assistance of Newport Beach PD, the vehicle was disabled utilizing Spike Strips. 

Three occupants were detained and two were arrested. They were Gutierrez and Arriaga. Gutierrez was also in possession of approximately one gram of methamphetamine.


Police Files

The lure of lingerie leads to arrest

From an LBPD press release

On May 2, LBPD Officers responded to a burglary investigation at Delicate Illusions, located at 1857 South Coast Highway.  Delicate Illusions is a romantic boutique. The store owner and victim reported over $1400.00 worth of merchandise and cash had been taken during the burglary, which occurred while the business was closed.

During the initial investigation, LBPD Officers reviewed surveillance video from inside the store and recognized 53-year old Reese Westenberger as the perpetrator.  A crime bulletin was distributed throughout the police department listing Westenberger as a suspect in the case.  

On May 31, a bicycle patrol officer recognized Westenberger standing outside of 20652 Laguna Canyon Road. Westenberger attempted to flee the area on foot, and after a short chase, he surrendered.  Westenberger was taken into custody and charged with burglary, grand theft, and vandalism.  

Is thief no longer under any illusions?

When interviewed by Detectives, Westenberger denied involvement.  Westenberger was booked into Orange County Jail and held on $25,000 bail.

Anyone with any information regarding this investigation or other similar incidents 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..  

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

Rash of vehicle burglaries Saturday night

Throughout the day on Saturday, at least seven victims reported that their cars had been entered overnight and items stolen. 

Amongst the stolen property were sunglasses, wallets, paperwork, a computer, and a purse with cash inside. Some of the vehicles had been locked and others were forced open.

“Detectives are currently looking at all leads,” said Sgt. James Cota, LBPD spokesperson. “Progress is being made on locating a suspect.”

Remember, if you see something, say something.

Renters on the rampage

In two unrelated incidents this week, occupants of rented residences are suspected of burgling multiple items from the homes in which they were staying. 

A vacation home in the 31800 block of Circle Drive had TVs, carpet, electronics and computers missing, to the tune of $20,000. The incident occurred in the last two weeks.

In the 21700 block of Ocean Vista Drive, a refrigerator, washer/dryer, dishwasher, and microwave were removed.

Though the incidents are not related, neighbors are once again encouraged that if you see something, say something.


Police Files

“Smashed window” car thief grabs goods worth $5,000

On Monday afternoon, a burglar smashed the windows of a Mercedes parked in the 200 block of High Drive – different from the usual MO of stealing items from unlocked cars. A suitcase with $5,000 worth of clothing was stolen from the car, which belonged to the visiting friend of a resident.

“We have had quite a few thefts from unlocked vehicles,” said Sgt. James Cota, LBPD spokesperson. “It’s an easy crime of opportunity.”

“With summer approaching and many visitors coming to town, citizens have to lock their vehicles and their residences,” Cota urged.

But he reminded people that even locked cars can be subject to crime, and that it is important to be aware of suspicious behavior. 

“Remember, if you see something, say something,” Cota added.

Woman gives TV the brush-off, goes to jail

Officers were called to the ASL on Monday morning to remove a woman who was not allowed to be on the property.

When they got there, she had done more than trespass.

According to the police log, 10 witnesses confirmed that Sarah Beach, no fixed address, had used a broom to break the flat screen TV that belongs to the shelter.

Beach was arrested for trespassing and felony vandalism. Bail was set at $20,000.


Police Files

Identity stolen, car rented, then car stolen

Last week, a victim of identity theft reported that fraudulent accounts had been opened in his name and used to rent a vehicle, which had not been returned. 

On Thursday at 8:11 a.m., officers were alerted to a stolen vehicle inbound on Laguna Canyon Road – the same vehicle that had been rented in the victim’s name.

Officers stopped the vehicle and detained the two occupants. The driver, John Elton Aguirre, 42, Santa Ana, was arrested for vehicle theft as well as various fraud related charges.

The case is being investigated by LBPD Detectives.


Police Files

Paddleboarder saves friend’s life at Moss Street Beach

On Sunday at 10:17 a.m. at Moss Street Beach, Laguna Beach police received numerous 911 calls about a man yelling for help in the ocean. Due to the fog that morning, none of the callers could see the man.

“Two friends were paddle boarding when one of them went down for an unknown reason,” said Sgt. James Cota of the LBPD. 

The man brought the woman to shore and provided CPR. According to the police log, the woman was in full cardiac arrest, but began breathing at 10:35 a.m.

Mercy Air was called to transport the woman to the hospital. According to a GoFundMe page set up for her, she suffered a seizure due to a brain tumor. She is currently under sedation in the ICU.


Police Files

Drone drives resident to distraction – and worse

Drones are a contentious topic, and on Friday, one resident in the 1300 block of Skyline Drive decided to take matters into his own hands – literally.

“After a thorough investigation, officers found a resident had taken a drone that belonged to a professional videographer, who was filming for real estate purposes,” said LBPD spokesperson Sgt. James Cota. “The citizen refused to give it back to the owner.”

According to the police log, the man also punched the videographer, who declined medical attention. 

Eventually, officers were able to get the man to come out of the house with the now-damaged drone.

Joshua Radwan, 36, Laguna Beach, was arrested for robbery and transported to Orange County Jail.

Cliff Drive burglary foiled

On Saturday evening, a neighbor reported a woman sitting on a doorstep and pounding on the door of a residence in the 1000 block of Cliff Drive. 

Officers arrived at the scene and detained the woman and her companion.

According to Sgt. James Cota of the LBPD, “They were in the process of stealing items from the residence.”

Marcela Encarnacion, 45, Long Beach, and Arnoldo Chavez, 49, Norwalk, were both arrested for residential burglary. Additionally, Chavez was arrested on an outstanding warrant from Merced County for vandalism, resisting, and battery.

Man spits at officers during arrest

Officers responded on Friday night to Main Beach following a report of assault. After making contact with the two men involved, it was determined that Daniel Del Rosario, 24, no fixed address, was the aggressor.

“While officers attempted to arrest Del Rosario, he spat at an officer but missed,” said Sgt. James Cota, LBPD spokesperson. “Aside from being charged with assault, additional charges were added for assault on a police officer.”

Del Rosario was taken to Orange County Jail and held with $20,000 bail.


Police Files

Bicyclist vs vehicle results in broken collarbone

A bicyclist was treated for a broken collarbone on Monday morning after being hit by a vehicle at Coast Highway and Broadway.

“The vehicle and bicyclist were heading northbound on Coast Highway when the vehicle turned in front of the bicyclist to make a right turn onto Broadway,” explained Sgt. Jim Cota, LBPD spokesperson.

A witness called 911 and tended to the bicyclist until emergency personnel arrived. 

Nails used in possible attempt to poison a tree

A resident in the 1000 block of Cortez realized on Tuesday that a series of nails had been hammered into the base of a tree on her property, possibly in an attempt by an unknown suspect to poison it.

According to the police log, the RP stated that she did not know of any possible motive, especially because the only view the tree blocks is her own. 

Mountain bikes stolen from business

On Monday afternoon, a business in the 31100 block of Coast Highway reported that two black and orange mountain bikes were stolen.

The suspect, who was caught on video, was described as a white man in his late 40s or early 50s with blonde hair wearing a green and blue striped collared shirt. 

The total loss was estimated to be $10,000.


Police Files

Woman, 18, charged with felony DUI after boy, 17, falls out of her moving car in NoLag, is seriously injured

A witness called 9-1-1 after seeing a person’s “…head hit the sidewalk…” according to the police log. The call was received from Myrtle St and Cypress Dr at 5:04 p.m. last Wednesday.

The driver of a 2013 black Audi A4, an 18-year-old Laguna Beach woman, was driving the intoxicated boy home according to LBPD Sgt. James Cota. “He asked the driver to stop. When the car stopped, the intoxicated juvenile exited and then collapsed while the car was still moving according to a witness.”

Kiani Leigh Harriman, 18, Laguna Beach, was arrested for possession of meds without a prescription and felony DUI with $100,000 bail.

Felony DUI under the vehicle code is defined: It is unlawful for a person, while under the influence of any drug, to drive a vehicle and concurrently do any act forbidden by law, or neglect any duty imposed by law in driving the vehicle, which act or neglect proximately causes bodily injury to any person other than the driver.

Sgt. Cota said the boy was transported to Mission Trauma Center. “His current medical status is unknown.”

Police have identified a serial package theft suspect

LBPD Sgt. James Cota replied to our inquiry of the arrest of a Lake Elsinore man last Saturday with the following:“Over the last year, numerous incidents of package theft and possible burglaries have occurred in Laguna Beach and throughout Orange County. Our detectives have been working together with other police agencies in including the Orange County Probation Department to locate the individual. 

“We were able to identify the suspect and the vehicle he drove when committing these crimes. The Orange County Probation Department just recently issued a warrant for his arrest for failing to comply with his probation terms.” 

The police log has an incident report from Saturday at 6:24 about the arrest of Anthony Brian Palusso, 32. Sgt. Cota said Palusso was identified suspect and was held without bail on the probation charges. 

Cota added, “The Laguna Beach Police Department currently has open cases of mail/package theft that are linked to him.”

Parolee arrested for trespassing thanks to alert neighbors

Police received a call from concerned and alert neighbors about a suspicious man in the 100 block Crescent Bay Dr at 9:42 a.m. Saturday.

Sgt. James Cota said, “The caller said a male walking towards the park kept looking back. Another female stopped the RP stating that the male subject had ducked into the yard. Officers searched and made a positive match and took the suspect into custody at 10:16 a.m.

Ralph Francis Bowers III, 46, Huntington Beach was arrested for trespassing and held for parole hold without bail.

He was on parole for a burglary conviction.


Police Files

Two times is a charm – off to jail twice in four days

Richard Alan Hendrickson, 67, was arrested twice in a four day stretch in the 600 block of Bolsana Drive – both times for violating the same restraining order (RO). 

On Monday at 6:52 p.m., police were called by a woman living there who said the suspect was parked in her driveway. She had driven by and was parked down the street, police said.

LBPD Sgt. Jim Cota told us, “She had called him, told him to leave, he refused and claimed the RO is not valid.”

His bail for the arrest on the valid restraining order was $15,000, the same amount that had been set on May 4 when he was also arrested. That evening, he knocked on the door of the home.

LBPD assisted CHP and Sheriff with felony car stop downtown

Click on photo for a larger image

Photo by Jeff Fernandez - Facebook

Laguna officers assisted CHP and OC Sheriff’s units at a felony car stop on Broadway at Coast Hwy Wednesday morning. The suspect above had led the agencies on a high- speed chase in South County. Details were not available at press time.

Woman arrested for stealing candy worth $3 from man

Police officers responded to the 300 block of Ocean Avenue late Tuesday morning after callers reported that a woman was out of control and had been yelling and screaming at people.

On scene, a man complained that Irene Marchell Garcia, 50, no fixed address, had grabbed candy worth $3 from him and then ran off.

Police located her and took her into custody for petty theft with bail of $500.


Police Files

Third time DUI offender battles cops and gets tased 

A 9-1-1 caller alerted Laguna police about a Honda Accord headed into town on Laguna Canyon Road shortly before 7 o’clock last Thursday evening. A patrol unit saw the Honda parking in a Broadway retailer’s parking lot.

Zackary Andrew Gillenwater, 22, La Mirada, allegedly threw trash from the car before getting out. 

LBPD Sgt. Jim Cota said Monday, “As the officer contacted him, the driver refused to stop and stated he would not comply. The officer attempted to get him to comply repeatedly but Gillenwater refused to cooperate. The officer reached out and grabbed him to detain him. 

“Gillenwater resisted the officer’s efforts and pulled away. He was tased and then handcuffed. Even after being handcuffed, Gillenwater threatened officers and medical personnel.  

“Gillenwater was arrested for DUI (third offense), and felony resisting arrest. He also had an outstanding North Court warrant for his arrest and his driver’s license was suspended. Gillenwater was booked and transported to OCJ with $20,000 bail.”


Police Files

Detectives solve multiple vehicle burglaries at Laguna Coast Wilderness Park lots with arrest this week

Stu News Laguna learned last night that LBPD detectives used exhaustive reviews of evidence to solve multiple vehicle burglaries over the past two months in the parking lots of Laguna Coast Wilderness Park on Laguna Canyon Road.

Michael Krier, 40, Anaheim, was arrested late Tuesday and charged in some of the cases, police said. The investigation is ongoing.

In several cases, the suspect smashed windows and grabbed valuables that had been left in plain sight during daylight hours.

A review of digital evidence from the area led detectives to Krier, who, we have learned, confessed when interviewed.

Speeding Toyota chased on Coast Hwy at 100mph until crashing

A black Toyota Camry whizzed past an officer traveling at a high rate of speed headed northbound on Coast Highway from West Street just before midnight Tuesday. The driver, later identified as Eric Balderas, continued northbound hitting speeds in excess of 100 mph between Thalia and Legion Streets. 

Balderas, 25 of Rancho Santa Margarita, crashed his Camry in the 200 block of S. Coast Highway. He was charged with felony evading and DUI with two priors. Police took him directly to Orange County Jail for booking. 


Police Files

Copter used to rescue “heavily intoxicated” teenager

Click on photo for a larger image

An OC Sheriff’s helicopter was needed to rescue a 17-year-old Rancho Santa Margarita boy below the 31500 block of Bluff Drive above Table Rock Beach in South Laguna Saturday afternoon. The boy was unconscious. Sgt. Jim Cota of the LBPD said he was “heavily intoxicated…[and]… transported from the beach to Mission Hospital in Mission Viejo for advanced medical treatment. The juvenile has since regained consciousness.” Thanks to John Thomas for the photo.  

Laguna cops chase car stolen in SoLag to Santa Ana with speeds hitting 100. Suspect arrested there

A resident on Virginia Way in South Laguna heard his 2016 Hyundai Genesis start up at 2:29 a.m. Saturday…the keys were in the car.

A LBPD patrol unit spotted the car outbound on Laguna Canyon Road and the chase was on with speeds hitting 100 mph on the 405 Freeway. The suspect exited at Dyer Road into Santa Ana where Santa Ana PD units joined the pursuit.

The suspect bailed on foot in an apartment complex according to Sgt. Jim Cota of the LBPD. “He hopped a fence into a backyard and broke into a garage. The suspect was taken into custody at 2:53 a.m. and charged with auto theft and felony evading.”

He was identified as Felix Ezequiel, Jr., 26, of Santa Ana.

Intoxicated couple fought with cops on the sidewalk

Brian Flick, 27, Laguna Hills and Santa Figueroa, 50, Anaheim, were arrested after they fought with officers in the 1100 block of S. Coast Hwy at 2 a.m. Saturday.

Sgt. Jim Cota of the LBPD said, “Officers contacted a male subject exiting the Sandpiper Bar who was visibly intoxicated. He was identified as Laguna Hills resident, Brian Flick. As officers attempted to arrest Flick, he resisted their efforts and a struggle ensued. A charge of felony resisting was added due to the fact that Flick fought with officers preventing them from conducting their duties. An officer was injured in the altercation. Flick was arrested for public intoxication, battery to a police officer, and resisting arrest. He was taken directly to Orange County Jail. 

“A female, Santa Figueroa of Santa Ana, was also arrested for public intoxication and interfering/resisting arrest.”


Police Files

Teenagers learned a lesson at Thousand Steps Beach

Three teens were enjoying a nice Sunday morning at Thousand Steps when they decided to go into the water. They left their “don’t get it wet” items on the sand and jumped into the ocean.

Naturally, their three iPhones and wallets containing credit cards and cash were gone. A witness said a male and a female went through their property and left with the wallets and phones. 

Police did an area search but were unable to locate the suspects,

Working together to stop distracted driving

April is recognized as National Distracted Driving Awareness Month. In California, the Office of Traffic Safety (OTS), Laguna Beach Police Department, CHP, local law enforcement, and community partners throughout the state are working together to make the roads safer by highlighting the dangers of being distracted while driving, especially by cell phones. 

“Law enforcement would rather see everyone off their cell phones than hand out a lot of tickets,” said Rhonda Craft, director of the Office of Traffic Safety. “Take care of calling, texting, setting your GPS and everything else before you hit the street.” 

Assembly Bill 1785 went into effect on Jan 1, requiring all drivers in California to keep their cell phone out of their hands while operating a motor vehicle. Under the new law, a driver may activate or deactivate a feature or function of the cell phone or wireless communication device by swiping or tapping its screen only if it is properly mounted. Specific information on the new law can be found at www.ots.ca.gov

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) reports that 3,477 people were killed and an estimated 391,000 injured in motor vehicle collisions involving distracted drivers in 2015. That is a 9 percent increase in fatalities as compared to the previous year. 

Officers from the Laguna Beach Police Department will join other law enforcement agencies throughout the state to provide educational experiences as well as zero tolerance enforcement efforts to discourage distracted driving. 

This campaign is funded by a grant from the California Office of Traffic Safety, through the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.

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

Driver of stolen Honda evaded cops Sunday afternoon

Neighborhoods near S. Coast Hwy and St. Ann’s Drive were abuzz late Sunday afternoon by police officers and a circling helicopter. Police issued alerts to the area informing residents that the search was on for a suspected driver of a stolen 1998 black Honda CRV. Officers had stopped the SUV at 4:53 p.m. on St. Ann’s.

Sgt. Jim Cota of the LBPD explained Monday: “The driver exited the vehicle and fled on foot west to the beach. The officer pursued the suspect on the sand for approximately 100 yards. The suspect then accessed a set of private stairs and ran east towards Gaviota Dr. A perimeter was established containing the 700 Block of Gaviota. A helicopter from Anaheim PD and a canine unit from Newport Beach PD responded for assistance.” 

Photo by Louis Weil

Beach access stairway to Gaviota used by the suspect to escape police

Cota added, “Several announcements were made from the helicopter and the PA system of the police vehicle before a search was initiated. The suspect was not located. The outstanding suspect was described as a bald male white with black pants and a gray shirt. The vehicle was recovered and processed for evidence at the scene.” 

15-year-old Huntington Beach girl was very fortunate

A 15-year-old girl from Huntington Beach was hit in the southbound lane of Coast Hwy at Camel Point Dr at 20 minutes before 10 Saturday night. 

Sgt. Cota said Monday, “Police and fire personnel responded to Coast Highway and Camel Point Drive for a reported vehicle versus pedestrian hit and run traffic collision. Emergency personnel arrived and found that a 15-year-old girl from Huntington Beach had stepped into the southbound #2 lane of Coast Highway to walk around a legally parked car. She was struck by the side mirror of a passing car. 

“She was knocked against the parked car and was able to move out of the roadway. The passing car did not stop and fled the scene. The suspect car was described as a newer model silver four-door sedan with tinted windows. The pedestrian was transported to Mission Hospital-Mission Viejo for a laceration to her arm.”

Passenger in stolen Jetta danced in the street when stopped

According to the police log, a female passenger inside a stolen 2013 VW Jetta got out when the car was stopped by police at 1:33 a.m. Saturday at S. Coast Hwy and Nyes Place and began dancing. She was eventually released without charges.

The driver, Markus Dante Cash, 28, San Juan Capistrano, was charged with felony possession of a stolen vehicle and possession of methamphetamine. 

Bail was set at $20,000.

Working together to stop distracted driving

April is recognized as National Distracted Driving Awareness Month. In California, the Office of Traffic Safety (OTS), Laguna Beach Police Department, CHP, local law enforcement, and community partners throughout the state are working together to make the roads safer by highlighting the dangers of being distracted while driving, especially by cell phones. 

“Law enforcement would rather see everyone off their cell phones than hand out a lot of tickets,” said Rhonda Craft, director of the Office of Traffic Safety. “Take care of calling, texting, setting your GPS and everything else before you hit the street.” 

Assembly Bill 1785 went into effect on Jan 1, requiring all drivers in California to keep their cell phone out of their hands while operating a motor vehicle. Under the new law, a driver may activate or deactivate a feature or function of the cell phone or wireless communication device by swiping or tapping its screen only if it is properly mounted. Specific information on the new law can be found at www.ots.ca.gov. 

The Office of Traffic Safety will begin a new public awareness campaign throughout the state in April emphasizing how the new law makes virtually all hand-held cell phone activity illegal – talking, texting, and using apps. The campaign aims to end distracted driving through education and raise awareness about the associated dangers. 

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) reports that 3,477 people were killed and an estimated 391,000 injured in motor vehicle collisions involving distracted drivers in 2015. That is a 9 percent increase in fatalities as compared to the previous year. 

Officers from the Laguna Beach Police Department will join other law enforcement agencies throughout the state to provide educational experiences as well as zero tolerance enforcement efforts to discourage distracted driving. 

This campaign is funded by a grant from the California Office of Traffic Safety, through the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.

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

Woman arrested for felony assault at Skyloft

On March 10, a woman was hit in the face with a glass at Skyloft and taken to the hospital for her injuries.

After reviewing video footage of the incident and conducting an investigation, Laguna Beach Detectives identified and arrested the suspect on Tuesday, April 18.

Detectives located and arrested Sherida Angelica Arias, 38, Anaheim, for assault with bodily injury, assault with a deadly weapon, and mayhem.  

Man arrested for threatening police officers and their families

On Monday, April 17, at 3:56 p.m., officers responded to Alta Laguna Park after receiving a call of a man sitting in his vehicle for over an hour.

“When officers contacted the man, he was threatening to them and continually spoke about the violence he would do to them and their families if they did not leave him alone,” said Sgt. James Cota, LBPD spokesperson.

The man, identified as Anthony Tabarsi, 51, Costa Mesa, was taken into custody shortly thereafter and charged with making threats to deter officers from performing their duties and challenging officers to a fight. 

He was taken directly to Orange County Jail.


Police Files

18-year-old caught in a stolen car with two juveniles on board

At 5:33 a.m. on Friday, April 14, officers were notified that a Honda Odyssey that had been stolen in Costa Mesa a week earlier had entered Laguna Beach.

Officers stopped the vehicle near Anita Street and Coast Highway and detained its three occupants. 

The driver, Spencer Hastings Jr., 18, Costa Mesa, was arrested for felony vehicle theft with $20,000 bail.

The two female juveniles were transported to the police station.


Police Files

Tesla sideswipes semi-truck while on autopilot

Tesla started equipping its Model S vehicles with self-driving hardware in October 2014, to “relieve drivers of the most tedious and potentially dangerous aspects of road travel,” according to their website. The Autopilot function works like the same systems airplane pilots use – the driver is still responsible for and in control of the car.

This function didn’t work out too well for the driver of a Tesla S70 on Laguna Canyon Road Monday afternoon.

“The Tesla was headed outbound on Laguna Canyon Road when it collided into a semi-truck that was stopped on the side of the road just past Raquel Road,” said Sgt. James Cota of the LBPD. “At the time of the collision, the Tesla was in the autonomous mode.”

Neither parties were injured, but according to the police log, a tractor and trailer needed to be towed from the scene due to rear axle damage. 

Homeless man caught driving stolen car

On Monday at 9:40 a.m., officers were alerted to a 1990 Volvo stolen in Laguna Woods making its way down Coast Highway.

The car was stopped near El Paseo and Laguna, and its occupants detained shortly after 10 a.m.

The driver, Christopher Paul Mack, 49, no fixed address, was arrested for felony vehicle theft and possession of a stolen vehicle. 

Motorcyclist sustains head injury after hitting curb on Park Ave

Shortly after 11 p.m. on Tuesday, Laguna Beach Police officers arrived at Park Avenue and Tahiti Avenue following reports of a traffic collision.

“Officers on scene determined that a motorcyclist had collided with a curb and into the guardrail,” said Sgt. James Cota, LBPD spokesman. 

The rider sustained a head injury and was taken to Mission Hospital Mission Viejo for care.


Police Files

Drug dealer busted with Ecstasy & Adderall

Thursday at 2:33 a.m., an officer stopped a vehicle in the 700 block of Cliff Drive for failing to stop at a stop sign. The vehicle was searched.

“Officers found 30 Ecstasy pills, one clear pill containing powder MDMA (Ecstasy), and 10 Adderall pills,” said Sgt. James Cota, LBPD spokesperson. 

Rodrigo Padillo, 22, Irvine, was arrested for possession and transportation of a controlled substance for sales.

Man throws pizza at woman after she offers him free food

On Saturday afternoon, a woman offered food to a man on Ocean Avenue.

The man, identified as Michael Moody, 36, did not like this very much. A verbal altercation ensued, culminating in Moody throwing the pizza at her.

After officers contacted both parties and witnesses, Moody was arrested for assault against the woman. 

Laguna Beach PD is hiring

The City of Laguna Beach is now hiring men and women who have an interest in law enforcement. Come join the great team at LBPD!

The application deadline for Police Recruit & Academy Graduate is Monday, April 24, at 4 p.m.

You do not have to have been through the Police Academy to apply, but if hired you will be required to complete the 6-month intensive training.

Watch the Laguna Beach Police Department recruitment video at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1EO1_8xNZ3M.

For more details and to apply, visit http://www.lagunabeachcity.net/cityhall/personnel/opportunities.htm


Police Files

Homeowner and cops catch a burglar in the act

On Monday at 4:35 a.m., Laguna Beach police officers responded to a residence on Monterey Street after the homeowner called to report a man trying to break into a window on his property.

According to the police log, the suspect was clawing and crying on the ground before entering the residence’s garage.

Officers made contact with the man shortly after arriving and arrested him after the homeowner positively identified him. 

Stephen Michael Cobb, 24, West Hills, was taken into custody for burglary, trespassing and vandalism.

Couple of car thieves caught by cops

Laguna Beach Police officers helped return two stolen cars to their owners this week.

On Tuesday, officers were alerted that a vehicle stolen from a local rental car agency was entering the city via Laguna Canyon Road. The Kia Soul was supposed to have been returned in February.

Officers located the car in a parking lot on Laguna Cyn Rd, and followed the driver once he drove off. He ultimately stopped near the 73 onramp and El Toro Road.

The driver, Thomas Nordberg, 38, of Manhattan Beach, was arrested for possession of a stolen vehicle.

On Sunday, officers were alerted to a stolen car near Ledroit Street & N. Coast Hwy. The Hyundai Elantra had been reported stolen out of San Diego, and was ultimately stopped in the 700 block of S. Coast Hwy.

The driver and sole occupant, Vladimir Feldman, 37, of San Diego, was arrested for possession of a stolen vehicle. 

Laguna Beach PD is hiring

The City of Laguna Beach is now hiring men and women who have an interest in law enforcement. Come join the great team at LBPD!

The application deadline for Police Recruit & Academy Graduate is Monday, April 24, at 4 p.m.

You do not have to have been through the Police Academy to apply, but if hired you will be required to complete the 6-month intensive training.

Watch the Laguna Beach Police Department recruitment video at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1EO1_8xNZ3M.

For more details and to apply, visit http://www.lagunabeachcity.net/cityhall/personnel/opportunities.htm


Police Files

High-risk traffic stop on Saturday – guns drawn and an AR-15 in the vehicle

On Saturday afternoon around 2:45 p.m., the Laguna Beach PD received a call about a man and a woman seen in a vehicle with a gun. Officers located the vehicle and conducted a high-risk traffic stop in the 400 block of Forest Avenue.

The vehicle’s occupants were detained and an AR-15 rifle was found on the front floorboard of the vehicle, plus about 20 rounds of ammunition. 

The man, 20-year-old Sir West from Las Vegas, was arrested for misdemeanor possession of a loaded firearm.

The female, 27-year-old Saffire Wallace, also from Las Vegas, was arrested for misdemeanor possession of a firearm, misdemeanor driving on a suspended license, and felony child endangerment. 

The vehicle’s third occupant, a five-year-old child, was taken to Child Protective Services. 

After argument about birds, man punches and kicks officers

Saturday at 5:07 p.m., officers responded to Main Beach in response to two men who had been loudly arguing about feeding birds, according to the police log. The two men had been swearing at each other as well.

While driving to Main Beach, officers saw a man on a bicycle who matched the description of one of the men who had been arguing.

“When officers attempted to detain the man, he struck one of the officers with a closed fist in the face,” said Lt. Tim Kleiser of the LBPD.

The two officers present struggled to detain the man, who managed to kick the other officer. A third officer arrived, but the man continued to resist.

“The officers were eventually able to place handcuffs on him and place him in a patrol car,” said Kleiser.

The man, identified as Daniel Delrosario, 24, no fixed address, was arrested for felony resisting arrest and misdemeanor assault on a police officer.

Business burgled overnight

A delivery driver pulled up to the 200 block of Ocean Avenue on Saturday at 5:14 a.m. and noticed that all was not right with a neighboring business – a window was broken.

Officers arrived and checked the interior, where they found several open boxes and empty display cases.

Surveillance footage revealed four suspects, all hooded and wearing gloves, at the location around 4:49 a.m.

“The owner responded to the location and estimated the loss at $70,000,” said Lt. Kleiser, LBPD spokesperson. 

The case is under investigation.


Police Files

Van with several teens inside rolls over Laguna Canyon Road

Tuesday at 4:27 p.m., the outbound lanes of Laguna Canyon Road were blocked after a vehicle struck a dirt embankment and rolled over.

According to the police log, it was reported that the vehicle appeared to have several teenagers inside.

“It is suspected that the vehicle was driving on the shoulder to pass other vehicles when it struck a dirt embankment,” causing it to roll over, said Lt. Kleiser, LBPD spokesperson.

Two people were taken to the hospital for minor injuries.

The driver, 21-year-old Kimarra Fields from Cypress, was arrested for DUI, reckless driving, and driving without a license. 

More trees cut in SoLag

On Tuesday afternoon, the Public Works Department reported that someone had cut trees in the center median in the area of Blumont Street and Virginia Park Drive.

Two tops of the trees were trimmed, according to Lt. Kleiser of the LBPD. 

No further information on the incident was available.


Police Files

Helicopters didn’t find car thieves Saturday night but cop on patrol did next morning

On Sunday morning around 7 a.m., an officer saw two men in dirty, wet clothing walking on the sidewalk of Park Avenue. Noticing that one matched the description of the driver of a stolen car Saturday night, the officer stopped to talk to the two men.

One gave a false name and was arrested for resisting arrest. When his real name was discovered, Braulio Pulgarin, 18, from Whittier, was also arrested for his outstanding no bail warrant from Whittier.

The other man, alleged to be the driver of the car, was 18-year-old Alexander LopezTavira from Downey. He was arrested for assault with a deadly weapon, child endangerment, possession of a stolen vehicle, possession of stolen property, hit and run, and evading police officers.

This all came about from a stolen Lexus that entered Laguna Beach from Laguna Canyon Road on Saturday at 11:47 p.m.

“Officers found the vehicle near Forest Avenue and Broadway and attempted to stop it,” said Lt. Tim Kleiser of the LBPD. “The vehicle fled and struck a delivery truck in the Village Mart parking lot.”

The driver put the car in reverse after hitting the truck, proceeding to then hit the officer’s vehicle.

“The vehicle ultimately crashed on Park Avenue near Tahiti, and the occupants in the car fled on foot,” said Kleiser. 

By 12:23 a.m., thanks to helicopter support, the LBPD had detained two 15-year-old boys from Whittier. According to the police log, one was taken to UCI Medical Center with a broken leg. 

LopezTavira’s child endangerment was because two of the occupants were underage. 

Single vehicle car accident yields no serious injuries

On Saturday evening, the juvenile driver of a black Audi rolled the vehicle on the 1700 block of Park Avenue.

Photo by Scott Brashier

First responders said that the young driver had no life-threatening injuries

The driver was taken to the hospital for neck pain and bleeding hands, but there were no life-threatening injuries.

The cause of the collision is under investigation.


Police Files

The Art of the Steal: Painting purchase leads to arrest

On Monday evening, a customer used a credit card to purchase a painting for $1,512.00.

Only problem was, it wasn’t his credit card that he used.

“The owner of the credit card received an email alert about the transaction,” said Lt. Kleiser of the LBPD.  She called the gallery and told them she hadn’t made any purchases. She also talked to officers and informed them that the card was also fraudulently used at the Montage Laguna Beach.

Officers went to the Montage Laguna Beach and located the man who had made the purchase. After checking the room he was staying in, they found 12.41 grams of methamphetamine and a credit card skimmer.

Xilong Wang, 29, Riverside, was arrested for felony burglary, felony defrauding an innkeeper, felony theft of a credit card, felony possession of stolen property, and felony credit card fraud. Misdemeanors included possession of a controlled substance and possession of drug paraphernalia.

Kramer vs. Kramer?

Laguna Beach man in fight, warrant for vandalism leads to arrest

On Monday at 5:25 p.m., officers received a call about a physical altercation between two men at the ASL. Neither man had a weapon, and both were still fighting when officers arrived.

Both men were detained soon after the LBPD’s arrival.

Details were limited, but 45-year-old Donald Kramer from Laguna Beach was arrested for an outstanding $2,500 Central Court warrant for vandalism.


Police Files

Female drug dealer arrested early Sunday on Fairview

An officer saw two people seated inside a vehicle in the 200 block of Fairview Sunday morning at 3 a.m. The vehicle was searched.

“Officers seized a total amount of 38.65 grams of methamphetamine and 1.34 grams of heroin,” said Lt. Tim Kleiser of the LBPD.

Christine Ann Wright, 46, Fullerton, was arrested for felony possession of a controlled substance for sales.

 

Juveniles leap from the roof of Laguna Royale

On Saturday around 11:54 a.m., a witness reported two juveniles jumping off of the fourth-floor roof of the Laguna Royale complex in the 31400 block of Coast Hwy to land in the pool on the ocean side of the building. 

Beach Patrol officers contacted the two sixteen-year-old boys, one from Lake Forest and one from Rancho Santa Margarita, and issued citations for trespassing, since neither live in the complex.

They were later released to their parents.

Photo by Scott Brashier

 

False name leads to second arrest

On Friday night, officers conducted a routine traffic stop for a vehicle violation. The female occupant was arrested for possession of prescription pills without a prescription, providing officers with her information during the booking process.

After her release, she returned to the police station Saturday evening and informed officers she had given a false name and age during the previous arrest.

This led to a second arrest for 19-year-old Tyler Lattenhauer of Yorba Linda, this time for providing a false name


Police Files

Motorcycle chase ends at the 405

Tuesday night around 11:14 p.m., an officer witnessed a traffic violation by a motorcycle. A stop was attempted in the 2700 block of Laguna Cyn Rd.

The motorcyclist didn’t yield until he was past the 73 freeway, before the 405. 

Once stopped, officers learned that the driver, 26-year-old Ross Hamera from Costa Mesa, formerly from Laguna Beach, was on probation for DUI.

“The officer conducted a DUI investigation and arrested Hamera for DUI and violation of a court order,” said Lt. Tim Kleiser of the LBPD.

Hamera also had an outstanding Harbor Court bench warrant for DUI, failure to comply with an officer, and driving on a suspended license.

 

Don’t depend on the luck of the Irish tonight

St. Patrick’s Day has become one of the nation’s favorite holidays to celebrate and party. Unfortunately, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), 252 people lost their lives in drunk driving-related crashes during the St. Patrick’s Day holiday period from 2011-2015. 

More than a fourth of them were killed in drunk driving crashes that occurred in the early morning, post-party hours (midnight to 5:59 a.m.). 

Drugs including many prescription medications, marijuana or illicit drugs can also lead to impairment and unsafe driving. When mixed with even a small amount of alcohol, the effects can be compounded.

Hand over those keys if you are planning to drink tonight 

Additional officers from the LBPD will deploy this weekend to stop and arrest drivers showing signs of alcohol or drug impairment. In addition to this St Patrick’s Day enforcement effort, all police, sheriff and the CHP will be on heightened alert ready to stop and arrest any impaired driver throughout the weekend. 

Planning a sober ride home before the party begins is the first step in staying safe on St. Patrick’s Day. Don’t wait until you’ve already been drinking to make your transportation decision. 

Designate your sober driver in advance, and never get behind the wheel if you’ve been drinking. 

Don’t depend on the luck of the Irish, that’s the bottom line.


Police Files

Age and wisdom don’t always go hand in hand

It’s commonly thought that age and wisdom go together, but this duo is the exception to the rule.

On Friday evening around 6:30 p.m., officers stopped a Ford Taurus for a vehicle code violation. The two older male occupants were found to be in possession of drugs.

Officers arrested 62-year-old Remlow Blevins from Laguna Beach for misdemeanor possession of drug paraphernalia and 59-year-old Richard Goodman from Mission Viejo for misdemeanor possession of a controlled substance and misdemeanor possession of drug paraphernalia.

High-risk traffic stop comes with drugs

On Saturday at 9:16 a.m., officers were alerted to a stolen Honda CRV that had entered the city on Laguna Canyon Road. It had been reported stolen in Santa Ana on March 3.

“Officers found the vehicle in the 600 block of Laguna Canyon Road,” said Lt. Tim Kleiser of the LBPD. “They stopped the vehicle on the 200 block of Cliff Drive and since it was a high risk stop, traffic was stopped in each direction.” High-risk traffic stops involve multiple patrol units with guns drawn. 

The driver, Juan Gutierrez, 22, of Laguna Hills, was arrested for vehicle theft. 

Officers also found a glass pipe on his person and a total of 6.98 grams of methamphetamine in his pocket and in the vehicle, adding on the charges of possession of a controlled substance and possession of drug paraphernalia. 

This St. Patrick’s Day, plan before you party!

Impaired driving, drugs and alcohol can kill

St. Patrick’s Day has become one of the nation’s favorite holidays to celebrate and party. Unfortunately, too many people are taking to the roads after drinking, making the holiday one of our most dangerous. According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), 252 people lost their lives in drunk driving-related crashes during the St. Patrick’s Day holiday period from 2011-2015. More than a fourth of them were killed in drunk driving crashes that occurred in the early morning, post-party hours (midnight to 5:59 a.m.). 

That’s why the Laguna Beach Police Department and the California Office of Traffic Safety are teaming up to reach all drivers with an important life-saving message and warning: Don’t Drive Impaired by Drugs or Alcohol. 

Drugs such as many prescription medications, marijuana or illicit drugs can also lead to impairment and unsafe driving. When mixed with even a small amount of alcohol, the affects can be compounded. 

Additional officers from the Laguna Beach Police Department will deploy this weekend specifically to stop and arrest drivers showing signs of alcohol or drug impairment. In addition to this St Patrick’s Day enforcement effort, all police, sheriff and the CHP will be on heightened alert ready to stop and arrest any impaired driver throughout the weekend. 

These needless deaths can be prevented. Planning a sober ride home before the party begins is the first step in staying safe on St. Patrick’s Day. Don’t wait until you’ve already been drinking to make your transportation decision. Designate your sober driver in advance, and never get behind the wheel if you’ve been drinking. 

This enforcement effort is funded by a grant from the California Office of Traffic Safety, through the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration who reminds everyone to be alert and ‘Report Drunk Drivers – Call 9-1-1’ if you see a dangerous driver.

For further information, please contact Lieutenant Jeff Calvert at (949) 464-6655 or This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

From a press release


Police Files

Drugs, a dog and danger

On Sunday at 11:07 p.m., officers stopped a vehicle in the 200 block of Ocean Avenue. A search of the car was initiated.

Inside, they found a Chihuahua puppy, a young child, and 42.09 grams of methamphetamine.

The driver, Whitney Michelle Martin Wilkes, 40, Orange, was arrested for possession of a controlled substance for sale and transportation of a controlled substance with intent to sell.

The child was taken to Orangewood and the pup taken to a shelter.

Throwing chairs off a roof? Bad idea

On Tuesday around 12:10 a.m., officers responded to the 1500 block of S. Coast Hwy in response to a male on a roof throwing chairs down onto the beach.

“Officers detained three people and arrested one of them, 19-year-old Wrackkie Quiogue from Orange, for false identification to a peace officer and minor in possession of alcohol,” said Lt. Tim Kleiser of the LBPD. 

The other two, juveniles, were released at the scene. No other information was available.

Woman jumps off balcony at Surf & Sand

Last Saturday, March 4, at 9:38 p.m., emergency personnel went to the Surf & Sand to render aid to a woman who fell from a fourth story balcony.

“It appears the woman may have intentionally jumped off the balcony,” said Lt. Tim Kleiser of the LBPD. “The woman landed near the pool and there were doctors nearby that immediately tended to her.”

The 33-year-old San Juan Capo resident was taken to the hospital. No updates were available. 


Police Files

Fob him off: This cat burglar might have 9 lives

On Sunday around 7:30 a.m., officers responded to a residence on the 900 block of Glenneyre Street for a residential burglary.

“The resident was home and heard a noise coming from the front room,” said Lt Tim Kleiser of the LBPD. “When he went to investigate the noise, he saw a man inside.”

The man told the resident he was looking for the owner of a key fob he had found, which he handed over to the resident and left. The reporting party didn’t know the man.

The resident later noticed his wallet was missing.

The man was not found by officers. 

Man kicks a trolley, brandishes a stick, kicks an officer

On Thursday around 1:30 p.m., officers responded to the 300 block of Broadway in response to a man who had threatened the trolley driver and also kicked the trolley.

The two officers who initially arrived saw him kicking the trolley and holding a stick. After being repeatedly asked to drop the stick, he complied. 

“The man continued to walk toward the officers and one of them took a hold of the man,” said Lt. Tim Kleiser of the LBPD. “He pushed one of the officers, causing the officer to fall. The other officer was still attempting to place handcuffs on the man. The other officer got up and assisted him.”

While they were attempting to put the man in the patrol car, he kicked an officer in the chest and began pulling on one of the officer’s holsters. After a brief struggle, he was secured inside the vehicle.

Both officers received minor injuries from the incident.

The man, identified as Dennis Hagan, 44, Adelanto, was arrested for felony resisting arrest and battery on a peace officer.


Police Files

Six teens detained in stolen vehicle at 4 a.m.

On Tuesday, Feb 28, at 4:08 a.m., officers were notified of a Honda Civic that had been reported stolen in Aliso Viejo earlier in the morning entering Laguna Beach from Laguna Canyon Road. 

Officers found the vehicle near Canyon Acres and stopped it in the 300 block of Broadway. All six of its occupants were detained.

The driver, 18-year-old Cedric Campbell from Aliso Viejo, was arrested for felony vehicle theft.

One passenger, Aldous Aaron Manasala, 19, Aliso Viejo, was arrested for false identification to a peace officer, felony vehicle theft and conspiracy.

The other four passengers, all 15 years old, three from Aliso Viejo and one from Irvine, were issued citations for curfew, detained and released to their parents.

 

Would-be car thief has Cadillac tastes – but unlocked car door leads to her lockup

On Monday Feb 27 on the 500 block of Forest Ave, at 11:53 a.m., a woman was seen checking door handles on parked vehicles, and entering a silver Cadillac. An officer detained her while she was trying to start the Cadillac, which was not hers. They also found .96 grams of methamphetamine and .33 grams of heroin on the woman. 

Lindsey Patterson, 35, Los Angeles, was arrested for felony vehicle theft, misdemeanor possession of a controlled substance, and misdemeanor possession of narcotics. 

Another drug dealer busted – and ID theft is involved also

At 2:15 a.m. on Tuesday, Feb 28, an officer stopped a vehicle for a traffic violation in the 200 block of N. Coast Hwy. While conducting a search of the vehicle, officers found drug paraphernalia, credit cards, driver’s licenses, and mail that did not belong to either occupant. 

The driver, 23-year-old Anthony Aparicio from Fullerton, was arrested for possession of drug paraphernalia. The passenger, Silvia Dominguez, 26, Tustin, was arrested for theft of a credit card. But that wasn’t all for Dominguez.

“When Dominguez arrived at the station, officers found a glass methamphetamine pipe and a total of 14 grams of methamphetamine,” said Lieutenant Tim Kleiser, LBPD spokesperson. She was then charged with possession and transportation of a controlled substance for sales.

Continuing their investigation at the station, officers located other evidence pertaining to identity theft which was determined to belong to Dominguez. Possession of personal identifying information was added to her list of charges for the morning.


Police Files

Vehicle crashes into La Sirena Grill, Gelson’s also involved

On Sunday at 6:32 p.m., emergency personnel responded to the Gelson’s shopping center in South Laguna for a vehicle that had struck the building of La Sirena Grill. No injuries were reported, and alcohol and drugs were not a factor. Initial fears of terrorism appear on social media, are unfounded, to everyone’s relief.

Click on photo for a larger image

Photo by Art Z of Sawdust Festival

A crash that was frightening for everyone, but fortunately there were no injuries

“Initial investigation appears the driver was attempting to park the vehicle, but pressed on the accelerator instead of the brakes,” said Sgt. Tim Kleiser of the LBPD. 

 

Two arrested in stolen vehicle – chase ends on Balboa Island

On Thursday, Feb. 23, officers were alerted that a Honda CRV reported stolen out of Santa Ana the previous day had entered the city. Officers located the vehicle near Forest Avenue heading north on Coast Highway.

When the vehicle turned into a gas station lot, a male passenger exited the vehicle and attempted to flee on foot. Officers detained and arrested Ryan Shelton, 34, San Juan Capo, for resisting arrest. 

Ryan Shelton                           Logan Carson

“The vehicle fled north on Coast Highway and officers continued to pursue the vehicle into Newport Beach,” said Kleiser. “The vehicle stopped on Balboa Island and the driver fled on foot, but was quickly found by the officers.”

The driver, Logan Carson, 33, Newport Beach, was arrested for felony vehicle theft, felony evading, and possession of a controlled substance. 

 

Stuck truck on Summit causes traffic headaches after crane fire

Summit Drive was closed for about an hour last Saturday afternoon when a tow truck that had been called in to remove an inoperable crane got stuck. The crane had caught on fire while working on a home the previous day. 

Click on photo for larger image

Photo by Michelle Bentcliff

Stuck truck on Summit Drive


Police Files

Vigilance is the key this weekend – as always!

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. 

Don’t drink and drive – and don’t use drugs and drive – choose a designated driver

DUI Saturation Patrols will deploy on Saturday, Feb 25 between the hours of 8 p.m. and 3 a.m. in areas with high frequencies of DUI collisions and/or arrests. 

Be vigilant, for yourself and others! Make sure you have a designated driver.

Another reason to be vigilant

Another reason to be vigilant: Recent package thefts have been reported, including one taken from the front porch of a home in the 700 block of Gaviota. 

“Neighbors should continue to be vigilant and call the police when they see something or someone suspicious,” recommended Sgt. Kleiser of the LBPD. 

Speaking of odd behavior…

On Sunday at 7:56 p.m., officers responded to the 1300 block of S. Coast Hwy for a verbal dispute between a male and a female.

“While officers were on scene, the male told the officers the shelter was hiding the female friend of his,” said Kleiser. “Officers had earlier responded to the location in regards to the man’s claims about the female, which was determined to be untrue by the officers.”

What was true was that the male was intoxicated, and that he got into a van and drove away.

Officers located the van in the Ralph’s parking lot and arrested Eric Hertle, 60, no fixed address, for driving under the influence. 

Drive carefully!

On Tuesday evening, emergency personnel responded to High Drive & Myrtle Street for a traffic collision – a moving vehicle had collided with a parked vehicle.

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Photo by Patrick Gallis

Accident on High and Myrtle – no one injured

No one was injured and the cause of the collision is under investigation – but the vehicle had to be towed away from the scene.


Police Files

Man attempts to spring his car from tow lot – but instead he’s locked up…

On Saturday at 5:32 p.m., officers responded to the tow lot on Laguna Canyon Road following a report about male who had entered the tow yard without permission.

“The RP also told our dispatcher the male got into a vehicle and was trying to drive it away,” said Sgt. Tim Kleiser. “The officers found out it was his car.”

The tow truck driver who originated the call blocked the vehicle from leaving. At one point, the male exited the vehicle and attempted to open the motorized gate, causing it to become inoperable and causing approximately $500 in damages.

Officers arrested the male, 23-year-old Miles McGlothlin from Texas, for felony vandalism and misdemeanor trespassing. 

Lots of storm damage on Friday

Friday’s storm brought at least 45 reports of downed trees or tree branches, one report of the roof blown off a house, and one report of a hillside coming down, requiring a geologist to declare the area stable before residents were allowed to reenter their home. 

Trees damaged at least six vehicles and there were several reports of downed wires. 

“The Emergency Operations Center was open from 12 p.m. to 10 p.m. and our dispatchers received a total of 192 calls for service,” said Kleiser. “Compare that to the previous Friday; during the exact same hours we had 70 calls for service.”

  Hats off to the police department, fire department, public works, and all other emergency personnel who helped us get through the storm.


Police Files

A fly-by-night scheme?

Seems like it’s been the calm before the (literal) storm…no major criminal incidents reported this week…except for a theft of 100,000 frequent flyer miles: Is the perpetrator a flight risk? We await the outcome with high anxiety.

Stay safe in the storm, everyone.


Police Files

One helicopter and 100 motorbikes: so much for a pleasant valley Sunday in the Canyon

On Sunday around 11:45 a.m., Newport Beach Police notified Laguna Beach that there were about 100 motorcycles heading in to the city on Coast Hwy.

“Officers followed and monitored the motorcycles up to Alta Laguna near the park,” said Sgt. Tim Kleiser of the LBPD. “Our officers did issue one citation to a rider who failed to stop for a stop sign.”

Newport also told the LBPD that one of their officers got into a pursuit with one rider who fled the area, but the outcome of the pursuit was unknown.

Meth-busters: Officers arrest mule

On Wednesday night at 10:22 p.m., Laguna Beach Police officers approached a vehicle, making contact with its occupant – who happened to be carrying meth.

Heather Tiffany Pflug, 41, Laguna Hills was arrested for possession of a controlled substance, but it wasn’t long before the officers found the rest of the meth, 7.92 grams in total. Pflug’s charges were upgraded to transportation of a controlled substance for sales with $25,000 bail.


Police Files

Bong bang could have been bad for butter-fingered burglar but burgled bong-seller declines to prosecute

On Monday, officers responded to a business on the 600 block of S. Coast Hwy regarding a robbery. Earlier, while a store employee had temporarily stepped outside the business, a male had gone behind the counter, taken a large bong and placed it under his shirt.

According to the police log, as the employee tried to stop the male from fleeing, “he used the bong to hit her.” Officers were unable to locate the suspect, but the employee did find a piece of paper that the man had dropped, which included his name.

Social media can be a bummer if you burgle

“The employee was able to locate the male with an online social media account and sent him a message the next day that a police report had been filed,” said Sgt. Kleiser of the LBPD. 

“The male replied back and apologized for the incident and agreed to pay for the item he had taken,” – a $560 bong.

The employee agreed to handle the incident civilly and not seek prosecution. The suspect’s name was not available once the business declined to prosecute.

Thanks to the civil arrangement the male and the employee agreed upon, the contrite suspect avoided a major felony. Lucky bong burglar!


Police Files

Pair of bad girls went to jail

In two separate incidents just an hour apart this weekend, Laguna Beach police officers arrested two women.

The first was on Saturday at 11:32 p.m. An officer stopped a vehicle for a traffic violation and while he was speaking to the driver, he saw an open can of beer on the rear floorboard and a vape pen with marijuana. After conducting a DUI investigation, Arianna Medicina, 23, Oceanside, was arrested for DUI. But that wasn’t all.

“During a search of the car, the officers found 13 pills of Alprazolam, a bottle of nitrous, and 3 pieces of candy laced with LSD,” said Sgt. Tim Kleiser. She was also charged with felony transportation of a controlled substance for sales, felony possession of a controlled substance, and felony possession of a controlled substance for sales.

Sunday morning at 12:41 a.m., officers stopped a woman for public intoxication. 

“When the officers were searching her, she kicked one of the officers on the leg,” said Kleiser. “When they were escorting her to jail she spit at two other officers.”

Nicole Adams, 25, Mission Viejo, was charged with being drunk in public and violence to prevent an officer from doing their duty.

Stolen Prius leads to arrest

On Friday evening at 8:59 p.m., officers were alerted to a Toyota Prius entering Laguna Beach via Laguna Canyon Road that had been reported stolen to the Orange County Sheriff’s Department.

The vehicle was stopped on S. Coast Hwy at Cleo Street. The driver, 19-year-old Jason Plunkett-Salvador from Huntington Beach, was arrested for felony vehicle theft. 


Police Files

Call the right play for Super Bowl 51 – pass the keys to a sober driver before the big game begins

On Sunday, Feb 5, football fans across the country will tune in to watch Super Bowl 51. For many of them, the game experience will include alcohol. The California Office of Traffic Safety (OTS) is teaming up with law enforcement agencies across the state for a special Fans Don’t Let Fans Drive Drunk campaign, urging all football fans to call the right play on Super Bowl weekend and pass the keys to a sober driver before the drinking begins. 

As part of the Super Bowl Sunday enforcement efforts, police, sheriff and the CHP will be on heightened alert ready to stop and arrest any impaired driver. 

Fans don’t let fans drive drunk

Impaired driving can be deadly. A driver is considered alcohol-impaired with a blood alcohol concentration (BAC) of .08% or higher, but even a small amount of alcohol can impair judgment and reaction times enough to make driving unsafe. Many medications (prescription and over-the-counter), marijuana, and illicit drugs can also lead to impairment and unsafe driving, resulting in a DUI. 

 “Volunteer to be a designated driver to help your family and friends get home safely,” said OTS Director Rhonda Craft. “Impaired driving only leads to disaster and tragedy. It is never worth the risk. If you do plan to drink, and/or are taking medications or using marijuana, plan now to pass the keys to a sober driver before kickoff.” 

For those who plan to drink, leave your keys at home. For those who do plan to drive, refrain from consuming any alcohol. Instead, enjoy the game with food and non-alcoholic drinks. 

Download an app for a designated driver

Drivers can also download OTS’s Designated Driver VIP, or “DDVIP,” free mobile app to get connected with free designated-driver incentives at local establishments or to order a sober ride from Uber, Lyft, or Curb. 

This enforcement effort is funded by a grant from the California Office of Traffic Safety, through the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration who reminds everyone to be alert and ‘Report Drunk Drivers – Call 911’ if you see a dangerous driver call immediately!


Police Files

Man, 24, left a trail of crimes along Park Avenue

Police dispatch received a 9-1-1 call early last Wednesday evening reporting that a man was walking in the roadway near the high school on Park Avenue carrying a stick and swinging it at people’s cars. Traffic, the caller said, had stopped and was backed up on both sides of the street.

Officers arrived on scene and had him detained four minutes after the initial call. Alexander Steven Tracy, 24, Laguna Niguel, was soon in custody for being drunk in public. Among his possessions was a Head tennis racquet.

Meanwhile, another officer responded to the 900 block of Park Ave to take a report for a residential burglary.

LBPD Sgt. Tim Kleiser said, “The resident arrived home and found his front and rear doors open. Officers checked the house and found property that belonged to Tracy. The victim noticed two Head tennis racquets had been taken, one of which was in Tracy’s possession and also a bottle of tequila was missing.”

A little while later, an officer responded to the 800 block of Park Ave for a report of vandalism Sgt. Kleiser added, “The resident arrived home around 6:45 and noticed the mailbox had been damaged and broken glass on the driveway. The glass was from the bottle of tequila taken from the residence where the burglary was reported.”

Tracy ended up going to jail for residential burglary, a felony, vandalism and being drunk in public. He was also on probation leading to his status being changed to being a probation violator and he was held without bail.

A man left a watermelon at the front door of the PD

At 10:24 Friday morning, the surveillance camera at the front door of the Police Department revealed a man described as being in his late 40s or early 50s placing a watermelon in front and then walking away.

Police are enhancing the video in the hope of being able to identify the man.

Sgt. Tim Kleiser of the LBPD said, “We don’t know what the purpose of this was, but we think it maybe in regards to the high school incident.”

Remember, for a complete listing of crimes and arrests in town, scroll down to Police Beat at the bottom of our second front page


Police Files

Sounds as if this burglary may been an “inside job”

When we think of burglaries, we rarely consider them to be an inside job, i.e., someone who had or has knowledge of where the money is and the best time to go for the taking.

There’s no evidence from the LBPD that we are correct in our deduction, but we want you to see what “fake news” can be.

A woman left her Laguna Beach from 9 a.m. to 6:30 p.m. When she got home, she saw that an outside door to her laundry was open and upon looking around, she saw that an office desk drawer was open.

$15,000 in cash was missing.

Laguna Beach PD detectives are on the case. 

Tree outside Urth Caffe is benched by the storm

Click on photo for a larger image