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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

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

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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

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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

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

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

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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

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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

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

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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

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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

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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

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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

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

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.

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