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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

“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

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

Unwanted sleepover nets arrest

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

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

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

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

Police Files

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.

Police Files

Peace, love, positivity…and then the police

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

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

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

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

Assault with a deadly flashlight

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

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

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

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

Police Files

Thieving duo steals wallets at Ralphs

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

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

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

Photos courtesy of LBPD

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

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

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

Facebook followers find fraudster

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

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

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

Photos courtesy of LPBD

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

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

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

Police Files

Syringes found near church, preschool

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

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

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

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

Woman arrested for child endangerment while driving DUI

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

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

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

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

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

Fire Files

An update on LBFD on the front lines

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

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

Click on photo for a larger image

Courtesy of LBFD

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

Police Files

High times on Glenneyre end in dispensary bust

Where there’s smoke, there’s fire, the saying goes, or in this case, a marijuana dispensary. Last week, a Laguna resident smelled something, well, highly suspicious while walking along the 900 block of Glenneyre. That person also saw a number of people leaving the building carrying white bags, furtively, one imagines.

Building on 900 block of Glenneyre

Turned out that the so-called “Divine Church of Gardens, Laguna Beach,” a tenant in the building, which also houses Sunset Drug, was indeed a place of worship – but the church part was bogus. The deity in question was not God, but weed in all its many manifestations.

“We arrested a man who claimed to be a volunteer for the church. He told officers that he had only been working there for three days, and that marijuana was used as a sacrament in the church’s rituals,” Sgt. Jim Cota, LBPD spokesperson, told Stu News.

After the officers located approximately 20 plus pounds of marijuana on the premises, along with codeine, and $3,000 in cash, the “volunteer” didn’t have a prayer. Lucas Seth Dichiara, age 31, of Irvine was arrested for possession and sales of marijuana and also for the illegal operation of a marijuana dispensary in Laguna Beach.

The landlord arrived on the scene and was flabbergasted. The Divine Church of Gardens was soon excommunicated from the property. (The name of the lessee of the property was not available at this time.)

Officers confiscated all of the contraband and booked it into evidence at the Laguna Beach Police Department.

“It appears there will be no church services this weekend at that location,” Sgt. Cota added.


Early morning reckless driver reported by 12 people

On the morning of Jan 15, Martin Luther King Day, a motorist driving a silver Jeep Liberty up Coast Highway was reported for reckless driving by twelve different callers, with reports ranging from driving on the wrong side of the road, not abiding by the speed limit, not stopping at red lights, and swerving their vehicle.

The first call, which came in at 8 a.m., reported that a woman was driving very fast, while the second reporting party described the driver running red lights. The third reporting party stated that the driver was driving the wrong way on the road in an attempt to pass other motorists near Wesley. 

A fifth reporting party pulled over to avoid the driver and called to say that the driver was in the southbound lane of the road. The sixth reporting party stated that the driver was northbound on Legion at a high rate of speed. After more calls about her heading northbound on Broadway, taking a turn to head southbound on Cliff, the driver was detained.

The woman was arrested for reckless driving.

Police Files

“Armed and dangerous” felons arrested after midnight in North Laguna, after “blacking out” their car and fleeing on foot

At 12:42 a.m. on Thursday morning, Feb 22, Laguna Beach Police Dispatchers received a license plate alert about an armed and dangerous felony vehicle, a 2017 Chevy Equinox, travelling inbound on Laguna Canyon Road. 

Nighttime patrol officers were alerted and the vehicle was located on the 600 Block of Laguna Canyon Road. 

According to LBPD spokesperson Sgt Jim Cota, the Chevy then turned onto 100 Cliff Drive, where it “blacked out” – in other words, the driver turned off the headlights in an attempt to evade detection.

But the fleeing felons fortunately were detected.

“The vehicle was abandoned at the intersection of Rosa Bonheur and Cypress Drive and the felons fled on foot,” Sgt Cota said. ”Two men were eventually located. Clifton Young Jr (34) was found on Cedar Way. He was in possession of a stun gun. Rylan Robinson (24) was located on Cliff Drive while trying to enter an Uber.”

“Both men are from Long Beach and have criminal records. LAPD was contacted and responded to take custody of the men.”

Several masks, beanies, and hoodies were found inside the vehicle, which was impounded and placed on an evidence hold for LAPD.


London man is TASERED in the buttocks after hitting Hennessey’s staff

On Sunday, Feb 18 at 9:27 p.m., officers responded to Hennessey’s (213 Ocean Ave) after a report about a combative man, later identified as Luke Ewers, 34, from London, who was refusing to leave the premises.

“When officers arrived, Ewers was physically fighting the manager and security staff of Hennessey’s,” LBPD spokesperson Jim Cota said. 

“An officer deployed his TASER in an attempt to control Ewers’ violent actions. The probes connected with Ewers’ lower back and buttocks area and effectively stopped the attack. Ewers was taken into custody for disturbing the peace and being drunk in public.”

Ewers was transported to Mission Hospital Laguna Beach, where the TASER probes were removed by the medical staff.

The men he attacked with punches and elbows are doing fine. In fact, they’re sitting pretty, which is probably more than can be said for Ewers, who was transported to LBPD jail after Mission Hospital.


Head-on collision at Solana and S Coast Hwy results in cut-and-rescue: Driver suspected of DUI

On Wednesday, a head-on traffic collision occurred at Solana and S Coast Highway resulted in a cut and rescue operation. 

Preliminary reports from LBPD’s Sgt Jim Cota indicate that one vehicle was headed southbound in the #1 lane and collided with another vehicle that was headed northbound in the #1 lane. 

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Photo by Ryan Keller

Head on traffic collision believed to be caused by DUI

The person believed to be at fault is a 53-year-old man from Riverside, suspected of being under the influence of alcohol.

A 2000 White Chevy Blazer and a 2004 Black Volvo S60 were involved. Both vehicles sustained major damage. 

The driver who was not at fault, a Dana Point resident, is still in the hospital with internal injuries. 

The investigation is ongoing.

Police Files

Local homeless man is arrested more than 30 times in three years

At 6:43 p.m. on Saturday, Feb 24, officers responded to 2442 S Coast Highway following a report of a possible burglary in progress. 

“The property manager reported that a man was seen on the surveillance system entering a vacant but furnished apartment building...which is set to rent for $5,000 per month,” said LBPD Spokesperson Sgt Jim Cota.

“Officers arrived and established a perimeter around the property. After speaking with the property manager, officers checked the building and found an unlocked door to apartment #2. LBPD K-9 Ranger led the search, which resulted in the discovery of a subject hiding in a bathroom.”

The suspect, Reese Westenberger, 53, a local homeless man who has been arrested “in excess of 30 times since 2015” according to LBPD, had broken into the furnished rental home and admitted to the police that he had been living there for one week. 

According to LBPD, there were no drugs or alcohol found on the scene.

Westenberger was taken into custody and later transported to OCJ. His bail was set at $50,000.


Scammer pretends to be a high-level City employee with thousands in grant money to give to businesses

Last week, Ruben Flores, owner of Laguna Nursery, was thrilled to hear that he might be eligible for thousands of dollars in grant money from the City. But only for a moment. 

“On one hand, as a small business, you’re like ‘thank goodness, we need this. And then as a rational person you say, this doesn’t sound right,’” Flores says.

Flores’s instincts were spot on. He explains what happened. 

“Through Facebook messenger, [the scam artists] messaged me from a high-level City employee’s Facebook page, representing to be that person. They said they could help get me a federal grant.”

“They kept texting back and texting back, and they were fairly persistent in telling me how we could get up to $200,000 and that we needed to fill out this form with different personal information.”

Sgt Cota says, “This is a one-hundred-percent scam. The scammers ask for money upfront, in this case $1,000, in order to get the transaction to move forward for payment.”

Ruben told Stu News that the scammer, using the City employee’s Facebook account, told him to message a person by the name of Russell Miller to get the details about the supposed grant.

“Then he said, if you give me $1,000 within the next 30 minutes, I can get you $40,000. That’s when I knew for sure it was sketchy.”

Flores reported the incident to the LBPD, who are now investigating. The “Russell Miller” Facebook page has since been taken down.


Heroin bust on Canyon Road after early-morning search of Mercedes – and then an unexpected find 

Sunday morning at 12:41 a.m., officers at the intersection of El Toro Road and the southbound off-ramp of the SR-73 observed a grey Mercedes stopped beyond the limit line (approximately three feet), a violation of California Vehicle Code 21453(a). 

Officers pulled behind the vehicle and noticed the car’s registration tabs were also expired.

Inside the vehicle, officers found twelve individually packaged baggies of heroin. 

“The driver of the Mercedes, Matthew Erik Logan, 45, and passenger Gloria Renee Reid, 49, both of Fountain Valley, were charged with three drug related charges and possession of counterfeit money,” said LBPD spokesperson Sgt Cota.

Logan had $1,300 in his possession, $1,100 in counterfeit bills. 

A search by a woman jailer revealed four unused hypodermic needles and a Skittles bag of heroin in and around Gloria Renee Reid’s genital area.

Police Files

“Well-dressed bandits” are now wearing stripes: LBPD detectives arrest second suspect in last summer’s five-business burglary

Laguna Beach detectives have connected the final piece of the puzzle in last summer’s jewelry heist at The Shops at The Cliffs, which resulted in the loss of over $200,000 in merchandise for five Laguna Beach businesses. 

On Wednesday, LBPD Detectives traveled to Oceanside and arrested 26-year-old Alexander Kenneth Joe Aguirre, after arresting 30-year-old Edward Torrison, also in Oceanside, in September 2017. Detectives from LBPD believed early on that the burglaries were related to a series of thefts that occurred in South Orange County. 

Submitted photo

Thanks to LBPD detectives’ thorough and awesome efforts, these “well-dressed bandits” have both been arrested: on the left, Alexander Kenneth Joe Aguirre; on the right, Edward Torrison

Early on in the investigation, detectives identified one of the suspects, Edward Torrison, 30, a resident of Oceanside. On September 26, 2017, detectives from LBPD went to Oceanside and after a short foot pursuit (which also resulted in the suspect severely injuring a gecko), Torrison was placed under arrest. Torrison was subsequently convicted and sentenced. He is currently in prison, serving a 32-month sentence.

Detectives continued the investigation in search for the second suspect, later identified as 26-year-old Alexander Kenneth Joe Aguirre.

On February 28, LBPD detectives arrested Aguirre in the city of Oceanside on two counts of burglary and one count of conspiracy to commit burglary.

Detectives located stolen jewelry hidden inside of a bedroom belonging to Aguirre. All of the found jewelry was confiscated and held for evidence. Aguirre was booked and later transported to Orange County Jail.

“Laguna Beach Police detectives had an unwavering determination to apprehend both offenders and their hard work resulted in another arrest of someone who tried to victimize our business community,” said Captain Jeff Calvert, LBPD.


Have Coffee with a Cop…and lifeguards…and firefighters…and emergency personnel…on March 10

The community is invited to join neighbors, officers and emergency personnel for coffee and donuts on Sat, March 10 from 8 a.m. – 11 a.m. at Mission Hospital Laguna Beach (31872 Coast Hwy). 

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Photo by Mary Hurlbut

Firefighters, police and emergency personnel want to talk to YOU

Personnel from Mission Hospital, Laguna Beach Police Department, Laguna Beach Fire Department, Laguna Beach Lifeguards, OC Parks, OC Lifeguards and Doctors Ambulance will be present. There will be a vehicle display and photo opportunities. 

The purpose of this event is to open lines of communication and build relationships with citizens. There are no agendas or speeches, just a chance for citizens to ask questions, voice concerns, and get to know the emergency personnel in their community. 

The police officers, lifeguards, firefighters and paramedics hope for a great turnout so that they can meet plenty of members of the community.

Police Files

UPS store gets unexpected delivery – and it could have been tragic

On Saturday morning at approximately 8:30 a.m. a Porsche crashed through the UPS Store on Coast Highway. Early reports suggest that the driver was cut off, resulting in this accident.

While LBPD has yet to release details, it is clear that if this had happened just a few hours later, someone – or several people – could have been killed or severely injured at this popular location.

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Photo by Lorraine Hornby

Porsche crashes into UPS store

Terri Meisberger, who owns the UPS Store with her husband Mark, told Stu News:

“We’re just so grateful that the store was closed [at the time of the accident] and that nobody was injured. That’s all we could really ask for. It could have been so much worse. It’s a little inconvenience, but everyone is ok. We’re ok.”

“The copier that’s in the front went flying into the back mail boxes and is demolished. We had to get [the site] boarded up that day, right away, because it was completely open. It’s temporary. We’re hoping to get a banner made that says we’re still open.”

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Photo by Marshall Aren

This car was also involved in the accident

“We can rebuild, the store can be repaired. We appreciate everyone’s understanding during our “remodel.”

Stu News is following up with LBPD and will provide more details about the accident as they become available. 


Food delivery man caught on video stealing resident's Nikes

On Friday, March 2, a Laguna Beach resident living on Cliff Drive had his Nike sneakers stolen – he had left them outside his front porch, most likely to dry out because of the rain, and because that’s what you do when you live in a small town like ours.

But sadly, even if you live in a small town, you’re not immune from thieves. 

Someone took his Nikes…

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Submitted photo

Now you see them, now you don’t

Fortunately for the resident, he had a doorbell camera set up, and caught the thief red-handed on video stealing his shoes.

The sneaky suspected sneaker thief, as seen here, was delivering take-out food to the victim’s next-door neighbor when he brazenly snatched the victim’s shoes on his way out.

“I can confirm that this happened and that detectives will follow up and see where it leads us,” said LBPD spokesperson Sgt Jim Cota.

Police Files

Laguna Beach Police Officer Rock Wagner is exonerated of any wrongdoing

On November 28, 2017 Laguna Beach Police Officer Rock Wagner was arrested by the Fullerton Police Department in connection with an elder abuse and fraud investigation. Since that time, Officer Wagner was placed on paid administrative leave while both the criminal and internal investigations took place.

Both of these investigations have concluded and after thorough review of the evidence produced, it has been determined that allegations of misconduct could not be supported. It has also been determined by the Orange County District Attorney’s Office that evidence of a crime did not exist.

“I am happy to report that Officer Rock Wagner will return to full duty and is a valued member of the Laguna Beach Police Department,” stated LBPD Chief Laura Farinella.

--From a press release 


Door to door solicitor who tried to get money from residents arrested on metal knuckles warrant

On Friday afternoon, March 9, a Laguna Beach resident called LBPD to report a group of men that were going door to door soliciting people in the Skyline/Mystic Hills area. According to the resident, the men were riding in an “older white panel van with no windows” with a female driver, when one of them – described as “well dressed with a gold chain” – got out and came to his door to ask him for money on behalf of what the man said was a non-profit called Excellent Sales. 

LBPD approached and stopped the man in question on Pitcairn Place. According to LBPD Spokesperson Sgt Jim Cota, he possessed a notebook with “customer names”, including multiple Laguna Beach residents with their addresses identified.

The man, identified from his Missouri identification card as Jearl Perry, 34, was stopped as a result of the city’s municipal code section on door to door solicitation, which makes such behavior illegal. 

“It is against the law to solicit door to door in Laguna Beach,” said Sgt Cota.

Perry had an outstanding Orange County warrant (possession of brass knuckles) out for his arrest and was taken into custody.

Police Files

Not so fast, reckless driving leads to drugs and stolen gun charges

On Monday, March 12, an LBPD officer saw a group of about 10 vehicles driving recklessly on South Coast Highway at Legion Street at 12:47 a.m. An Aston Martin Vantage left the pack, as it turned west onto the 100 Block of Cleo Street. After noticing the vehicle didn’t have front or rear license plates, a traffic stop was initiated.

Aaron Joseph Vasquez, 29, Irvine, was identified as the driver. Vasquez consented to be searched. A small amount of cocaine and approximately $650 cash was found in his pants pocket. Vasquez was placed under arrest for cocaine possession.

The officer then saw a backpack in plain view on the passenger floorboard. Vasquez initially admitted the backpack belonged to him. The arrest search found a scale, approximately $1,600 in cash, a stolen .25 caliber handgun, and a large amount of cocaine in the backpack. Vasquez then denied ownership of the backpack after the illegal items were discovered.

The passenger was identified as Alex J Klein, 29, of Anaheim. Klein, who refused to cooperate with the investigation, had about $2,600 in cash on him.

Because the backpack was near both Vasquez and Klein, they were both taken into custody for possession of cocaine for sales, possession of a controlled substance while armed, and carrying a loaded stolen firearm.

An on-duty Newport Beach Police department canine unit responded and conducted a sniff of the vehicle. The canine alerted to the trunk area, where three large bags of marijuana were found (approximately two pounds) and cash. As a result, Vasquez and Klein both received an added possession of marijuana for sales charge. Additional charges are pending.

Vasquez, who stated he is unemployed, and Klein, who stated he is self-employed doing eBay sales, were both taken into custody and transported to Orange County Jail. Bail amounts have not been listed yet.  

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Courtesy of LBPD

Cocaine, cash, a stolen gun and marijuana were found by LBPD during a traffic stop early Monday


LBPD is calling for vandals who damaged red telephone booth

On Monday, March 12 at 4:50 p.m., the red telephone public art piece on Forest Avenue was reported to be vandalized.

The piece, Nine Billion,” created by artist Douglas Turner, was found with broken windows, including the door.

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Photo by Dianne Russell

Vandals will be calling from the other side when they say hello to jail time

According to LBPD Spokesperson Sgt Jim Cota, “The phone booth door was slightly ajar, and a small piece of the phone booth window was cut out. The phone booth door is normally nailed shut, as it is not normally meant to be opened.”

A nearby store had video surveillance but their system was inoperable, said Sgt Cota. “The extent of the damages is unknown to LBPD.”


LBPD extends a big welcome back to officer Rock Wagner

On Thursday, Laguna Beach Police Officer Rock Wagner received a warm welcome back by the police department. Officer Wagner is back on the job, after he was exonerated of any wrongdoing inconnection to an investigation by the Fullerton Police Department.

He was placed on paid administrative leave while both the criminal and internal investigations took place.

Click on photo for a larger image

Courtesy LBPD Facebook

Officer Rock Wagner is welcomed back to the LBPD after being on paid administrative leave since November

On the department’s Facebook page, kind sentiments were posted: “Welcome back dayshift briefing for Ofc. Wagner. We are proud to have you back.”

Police Files

Road-rager assaults local woman, grabs her by the hair and slams her to the ground

On Saturday, March 17, at 5:21 p.m., a Laguna Beach resident reported that a man got out of his vehicle and assaulted her at Glenneyre Street and Laguna Avenue, near the Laguna Beach Library.

The woman and her friend said that the man first yelled derogatory comments and hate slurs at them while they were crossing Glenneyre Street in a marked crosswalk. The suspect then got out of his vehicle, grabbed the woman by her hair and pushed her, causing her to fall to the ground.

According to the report, the woman was trying to de-escalate the situation when she was slammed to the ground. 

The suspect is described as a heavy-set Hispanic man in his forties, approximately 5’ 5” tall. At the time of the incident, he was wearing a white t-shirt, black shorts, baseball cap, and sunglasses. 

LBPD detectives are currently working on the case. Anyone who has any additional information or who may have seen the incident is encouraged to call the police department at (949) 497-0701. 


Suspected drug dealer leaves car running for hours on Anita St, is no longer running his business

Also on Saturday, in the 400 block of Anita Street, at 12:52 p.m., it was reported that a gray 2010 Nissan Altima had been parked with the car running for three hours and 32 minutes, since 8:20 a.m. that morning.

According to a witness, the vehicle had very dark windows, so it wasn’t possible to see in. The concern was that someone might be inside and need help but caution was obviously necessary.

LBPD responded to the report and Jared Shouna, 23, of Laguna Niguel, was arrested for possession of drugs for sale, transportation of a controlled substance, and possession of a controlled substance.

Drugs found in the car included baggies of heroin that weighed 2.8 gross grams and 2.9 gross grams, a baggie of methamphetamine, weighing 1.6 gross grams, marijuana in a tin, weighing 5.5 gross grams, and marijuana from a red canister, weighing 4.5 net grams. 

“Per the suspect’s comment [at the time of his arrest], the cost of heroin is $70 per gram,” said LBPD Spokesperson Jordan Villwock.

Shouna was taken into custody with bail set at $30,000.

Police Files

Wind knocks down trees onto vehicles downtown and Bluebird

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Photo courtesy LBPD

Three parked cars were damaged on Forest Avenue Saturday night

The winds that blew hard almost all day Saturday knocked down large limbs from eucalyptus trees damaging parked vehicles downtown on Forest Avenue and on Regatta Road in Bluebird Canyon.

Police said a large limb fell at 6:54 p.m. downtown landing on three parked cars in the 300 block of Forest Avenue. All three were damaged but no one was injured.

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Photo by Mark Christy

The large limb fell across Forest Avenue and the Fire Department cut down the limb and removed it opening the roadway. 

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Photo by Jean Keys

Just before 9 a.m., another large limb fell onto a golf cart parked across the street in the 1400 block of Regatta Road in Bluebird Canyon. No one was injured.

City crews responded and cut up the remnants to open the street.

Stolen car eludes police at 100 MPH on Coast Hwy

An officer spotted a black Audi stolen out of Santa Ana at 10:35 Christmas morning. When the patrol unit pulled behind the car heading northbound from the 200 block of S. Coast Hwy, the Audi accelerated hitting speeds of 100 MPH as it approached Boat Canyon Drive. The officer lost sight of the car near Ledroit Street.

20 minutes later, Newport PD found the car parked at Crystal Cove and located the passenger in the parking lot, according to LBPD Sergeant Tim Kleiser.

LBPD responded and arrested Savannah Wilson, 23 of San Juan Capistrano for resisting arrest.

The driver has not been located.

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

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

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

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

Laguna Hills woman struck by drunk driver

at Glenneyre & Brooks

Police and fire units responded to Glenneyre and Brooks Street at 1:50 January 1 for a report of a pedestrian being struck by a Dodge Dakota.

Police said the woman, Star de Luna, 47, Laguna Hills, was crossing Glenneyre in the crosswalk with another woman and a man when the Dodge Dakota drove into them in the inside northbound lane.

“Two of the pedestrians were able to barely escape the path of the SUV,” LBPD Sgt. Louise Callus said.

Miraculously, de Luna was not visibly injured despite being knocked some 30 feet along the roadway. She complained of pain to her head, an elbow and a hip but was not bleeding when paramedics transported her to hospital.

Robert Glenn Simmonds, 51, the Dodge Dakota driver, was arrested for felony DUI causing injury with bail set at $100,000, police said.


Homeless man arrested for arson at his

Coast Hwy encampment

Fire units responded to the 200 block of North Coast Hwy at 1:25 a.m. January 1 when a 9-1-1 caller reported that bushes were burning.

Engine Company 1 arrived on scene and confirmed that bushes were burning and quickly extinguished the fire, which was in a hidden homeless encampment.

Police arrested James Garcia Santos, 62, no fixed address, for felony arson with bail of $100,000.

Seven injured, one fatally, in N. Coast Hwy crash Sunday afternoon – Coast Hwy closed 9 1/2 hrs.

A 29-year-old Irvine man identified as Erik Ortiz Valencia was killed instantly in a four-vehicle traffic crash at 1:34 Sunday afternoon on N. Coast Hwy near Irvine Cove.

 Valencia was a passenger in a silver Honda S2000 driven by a 27-year-old man from Mission Viejo. He sustained critical injuries and was taken to Mission Hospital Trauma Center and is expected to survive, police said. His name has not been released because the crash is still being investigated.

Police indicated that drugs or alcohol might have played a part in the crash. The OC District Attorney is waiting for toxicological test results before filing any charges. There was also speculation that road rage may have also been involved.

Captain Jason Kravetz said preliminary reports indicated that the Honda was traveling northbound on Coast Hwy when the driver swerved into the right lane to pass a Toyota 4-Runner. The Honda moved back into the ‘fast’ lane hitting the front end of the 4-Runner in the process. That sent both vehicles spinning into oncoming traffic in the southbound lanes.

The Honda was struck broadside by a GMC Sierra pickup. A Toyota Camry was also involved.

Captain Kravetz said in a statement, “The Toyota 4Runner was driven by 65-year-old Trabuco Canyon man who was treated at the scene. Two passengers were transported to hospitals and later released.

“The GMC Sierra was driven by 24-year-old San Juan Capistrano woman. She was transported to UCI Medical Center with abrasions and released. Her first passenger was a San Juan Capistrano man, 68, who was transported to Western Medical Center and admitted with fractured ribs and a partially collapsed lung. The second passenger, also from San Juan Capistrano, a woman age 65, was taken to UCI Medical Center and admitted with fractured ribs. 

“The occupants of the Toyota Camry were checked by paramedics but did not require medical treatment.” 

Newport Beach paramedics also treated injured people along with both Laguna Beach paramedic engines. Irvine police assisted in the accident investigation.

Coast Hwy was closed in both directions from Viejo Street by LBPD officers and at Reef Point by Newport Beach police until just before 11 p.m. Sunday night.

Police Files

Plaque honoring “Mr. Laguna” vandalized this week 

LBPD officer Zachary Martinez takes a close look at defacing of the plaque

A bronze plaque honoring “Mr. Laguna”, Harry Lawrence, outside of Selanne Steak Tavern in the 1400 block of S. Coast Hwy was discovered to have been defaced Tuesday morning.

Chrissy Black of Visionscape said Lawrence’s widow Zahide Lawrence’s name was scratched and ground down on the plaque.

Police said they are following possible leads provided by the Laguna Beach Beautification Committee that facilitated the dedication of the plaque last fall.

Anyone with information is requested to call 497-0701.


Mailboxes broken into at downtown post office 

Police are investigating witness reports about a man who was acting suspiciously in and around the downtown post office on Forest Avenue over the weekend.

According to LBPD Sgt. Louise Callus, on Monday morning, postal employees reported that about a dozen of their larger rented mailboxes had been broken into. The contents in all of the boxes were taken.

In addition, several smaller boxes evidenced pry marks but were not entered.

US Postal Inspectors will handle the investigation utilizing preliminary information gathered by LBPD.

Police did not have details about the contents.

Drugs at hotel: a man overdoses and two others go to jail

Paramedics took an unconscious man to the ER and two of his friends were taken to jail after doing drugs in a North Laguna hotel early Sunday morning.

LBPD Sgt. Louise Callus said multiple 9-1-1 callers reported that people were knocking on doors in the hotel and yelling for someone to give them a cell phone. It was still going on when officers arrived, Sgt. Callus said.

“Our officers made contact with three men who had been yelling in the hallway. They stated that their friend was in their room but would not answer the locked door. They said they had shattered the window in an attempt to make contact with their friend.”

The officers were able to move a curtain through the broken window. 

“They saw a male subject nude on the floor motionless and kicked in the door,” Sgt. Callus stated. “The man was breathing shallow and unresponsive.”

Paramedics were called and the man remained unresponsive as they treated him. He was taken unconscious to the ER at Mission Hospital Laguna Beach after medics stabilized him. His condition wasn’t disclosed on Monday.

Two of the other three men were arrested for being under the influence of a controlled substance – described only as a “stimulant.”

Michael Gerard Bodak, 20, Mission Viejo and Richard Mark Gotor, 53 of Laguna Niguel, were booked at the city jail with bail set at $1000 each.  

Police Files

Canyon dealership bilked out of $60,000 Porsche 911

A red Porsche 911 convertible was reported stolen by a dealership in the 2100 block of Laguna Canyon Road Tuesday.

The dealer valued the car at $60,000.

Police said a man presented $60,000 in checks to purchase the Porsche and said he wanted to get it smog checked in order to have a current title. He also told them he would purchase a second car when he returned.

LBPD Sgt. Louise Callus said via email, “While he was gone, the dealership learned that the checks were no good.

“He has not returned the car or phone calls from the victim.”

Police are investigating the information presented to the dealership as they look for the suspect.

From the City Manager: Vehicle Break-ins on the rise

The following was included as part of the City Manager’s regular Friday updates for the City Council”

“An unknown individual has been breaking car windows and removing valuables near the dog park and along Cliff Drive in broad daylight.  

“Everyone is reminded not to leave purses, wallets, cell phones, computers and other possessions in their cars, whether locked or not.  In a few cases, the purses were hidden or under the seat so don’t assume this is an effective security measure.”

Fair warning…

Police Files

16-yr-old gets Valentine’s greeting from a ‘road rager’

A minor fender bender between a black VW and a white Mercedes at Mission Hospital on February 14 immediately became a one-sided road rage incident resulting in the arrest of a 56-year-old Dana Point man.

According to police, the 16-year-old boy driving the VW called police reporting the fender bender and told them he had been physically pushed and shoved by an older man who left the scene. He explained that the older man in the Mercedes had not given him any insurance information before leaving the scene.

The Trabuco Canyon teenager also gave the cops the Mercedes tag number.

Laguna Police called the Sheriff’s Department and deputies drove by the Mercedes registered owner’s home in Dana Point. The car was in the driveway. At the request of LBPD, deputies made contact with the suspect and detained him.

LBPD drove the teenager to a location in Dana Point away from the suspect’s neighborhood where he was able to make a positive ID.

Laguna cops arrested Hal David Johnson for assault and battery based upon the teen’s signed complaint.

Happy Valentine’s Day.

Arrest made in theft of $60,000 Porsche 911

Laguna detectives arrested a Dana Point man for stealing a used Porsche 911 convertible valued at $60,000 from a dealership on Laguna Canyon Road last Tuesday after presenting bad checks. He told the dealership that he would take the car down the road to have it smog checked so that clear title could be available. 

He didn’t return the car or phone calls from the dealer.

Detectives followed the paper trail the suspect had provided the dealer and the rest was relatively routine police work.

Howard Bruce Norton, 62, was arrested at his home and charged with two felonies – auto theft and possession of known stolen property.

No further information was available from LBPD because investigative supervisors and spokespersons were off on President’s Day.

Police Files

Arrests for drugs & warrants add up to over $300 K in bail for couple

A traffic stop Saturday afternoon at Coast Hwy and Wesley Drive resulted in the arrests of a man and a woman from San Clemente. 

Their total bail was $325,000.

Julie Elizabeth Hall, 27, was found to be in possession of both heroin and marijuana packaged for sales and was charged with felony possession of a controlled substance for sales and felony transportation of a controlled substance for sales.

With a child in the vehicle, Hall was also charged with felony child endangerment with bail of $100,000. 

Glenn Lee Mendez, 45, was taken into custody on four Harbor Court warrants. One had a charge of grand theft (Bail: $10,000); one was for DUI and hit and run (Bail $15,000); one for possession of a controlled substance for sales (Bail $100,000); and the fourth warrant was for felony possession of a controlled substance for sales, felony possession of marijuana for sales and misdemeanor child endangerment.

Both were booked and taken to Orange County Jail.

Police Files

iPads were pilfered from El Morro School this summer

As the staff members of El Morro School returned to their assignments this week, it was learned that seven iPads valued at $1400 had been stolen at some point over the summer.

El Morro, located north of Laguna Beach in the unincorporated county area before Newport Beach city limits, is under the police jurisdiction of the Orange County Sheriff’s Department. LBPD was asked to take a courtesy report for the OCSD this past Tuesday.

Sheriff’s investigators are looking into the burglary. 

No further details were immediately available.

Police Files

Halloween jumper from 5th floor deck to private pool

Click on photo for a larger image

Submitted photo

Greg Carpenter, Homeowner’s Association President at Laguna Sands in the 1500 block of S. Coast Hwy provided this photo of a young man who jumped from the fifth floor deck there into the private pool below…“barely missing the edge of the pool”. The incident happened at 5:40 p.m. on Monday.

Carpenter said the HOA will prosecute him for trespassing and a police report has been made.

LBPD Sgt. Tim Kleiser said detectives are investigating the report.

A resident reportedly detained the jumper only to be hit in the face as the suspect ran away with four others who were nearby when he jumped, Carpenter said. 

Laguna Beach woman charged with DUI, hit and run

At 10:52 Sunday morning, a 9-1-1 caller told a Laguna Beach public safety dispatcher that as he was getting into his car in the 200 block of Cypress Drive, another vehicle had clipped his car and “…taken out…” the driver’s side door.

Police located the suspect vehicle and arrested Tania Jane Alexander, 57 of Laguna Beach, for DUI with a second offense and misdemeanor hit and run. 

There were no injuries according to the police log.

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

Laguna cops involved in 2 car chases through town

Police officers in town were involved in two vehicle pursuits this past week – one on Thursday evening with a suspected drug dealer at the wheel and the other late Saturday afternoon for a DUI suspect that was involved in three traffic crashes.

No one was seriously injured in either of the incidents, police said.

Sergeant Tim Kleiser told us, “Officers were dispatched at 4:39 p.m. to a report of a DUI driver traveling into town on North Coast Highway passing Boat Canyon. The car was described as a dark blue VW Jetta and the 9-1-1 caller was following. 

“Moments later, the caller said that the Jetta had rear-ended another vehicle at Myrtle and North Coast Highway. The Jetta then drove off and was seen by an officer traveling on Rosa Bonheur Drive near Cliff Drive.”

A traffic stop was attempted at Broadway and Forest Avenue and the Jetta slowed momentarily before taking off again headed out of Laguna on Laguna Canyon Road before suddenly pulling over again across from the Festival of Arts.

As the officer approached at gunpoint, according to the police log, the Jetta took off again. Other police units joined in the pursuit.

The log says the Jetta was hitting about 90 mph just before the ACT V lot and was hitting 70 at Big Bend and at the alternative sleeping location, which was at 4:47 before hitting another vehicle near Sun Valley.

Sgt. Kleiser explained, “The Jetta then headed on El Toro Road and rear-ended another vehicle at Aliso Creek and El Toro Road. The frontend damage to the Jetta caused the vehicle to become disabled. A high-risk vehicle stop was conducted by a total of six officers at gunpoint. The driver and sole occupant was identified as 41-year-old Aliso Viejo resident Alan Terrazas. He was arrested without further incident.”

Terrazas was charged with felony evading, DUI, reckless driving and two counts of hit and run.

At 6:32 Thursday evening, an officer tried to pull over a pickup truck heading north on Coast Highway near Fairview Street. The driver was suspected of dealing drugs Sgt. Kleiser said.

“The pickup failed to stop for the officer and continued north on Coast Highway finally stopping at the entrance to El Morro School. About seven officers conducted a high-risk felony stop. 

“Officers found heroin on the driver which weighed .03 grams. 22-year-old Alexander Connelly from Seal Beach was arrested for misdemeanor possession of a controlled substance, felony transportation to sell a controlled substance, and felony evading a peace officer.”


Cat burglar hits home on Brooks St. as resident slept

A resident in the 600 block of Oak Street called police at 6:37 Friday morning after waking up and realizing that someone had been inside the home overnight when he saw an open bag of chips with the indication that some had been eaten.

Police said two bottles of prescription meds had been taken and that the RP thinks the cat burglar might have made entry through an unlocked door.

Police Files

DUI checkpoint somewhere in town on Saturday night 

Drive Sober or Get Pulled Over is a national campaign to find and arrest drunk drivers from now through Labor Day. The Laguna Beach Police Department is fully committed to stepping up its enforcement efforts in that regards.

To get things started, there will be a DUI checkpoint set up from 8 p.m. Saturday to 3 a.m. Sunday morning. There won’t be any prior notice as to where it will be located.

Officers manning the checkpoint will be looking for intoxicated drivers and drivers without valid licenses as well as warrants and other crimes. More importantly, officers will actively educate drivers who go through the checkpoint.


More details on those 20 downed trees in South Laguna

On August 11, Police Files reported that 20 trees valued at $50,000 were missing from a property in the 31300 block of Coast Hwy in South Laguna.

We promised more details when available.

Sgt. Tim Kleiser advised us this week that a property manager checked on a residence there and discovered that an unknown suspect had entered the backyard and cut down 20 trees.

 He added, “The trees varied in size and some were more than 80 years old. The estimated value of the trees is $50,000.”

Police Files

Man arrested near dog park for throwing rocks at cars

A 9-1-1 caller told police last Wednesday morning that a man was throwing rocks at passing cars on Laguna Canyon Road at the dog park.

Police units arrived on scene and located Eddie Steven Olesiak, 28, no fixed address. Two motorists approached police and said Olesiak had thrown rock at their vehicles resulting in smashed windows and frayed nerves.

Police said the damage to the two cars was estimated at $2200.

Olesiak was arrested for felony vandalism.


Beachgoer robbed on Main Beach last Friday morning

An officer was approached on Main Beach at 11:42 Friday morning who told the cop that a man had taken $80 in cash from his briefcase.

Police said the man had been working with his briefcase open while sitting on a bench. 

Sgt. Tim Kleiser of the LBPD said, “The suspect reached into the top pocket of his briefcase and took the cash. The victim asked the suspect to return the money. Instead, the man kicked the victim and pushed him back onto the bench.”

Police did an area search after getting a good description from the RP and located the suspect nearby. 

After the victim identified the suspect, police arrested Colby Outlaw, 45, no fixed address, on a felony charge of robbery.

Police Files

Stolen car stop early Sunday – two women arrested

Laguna Beach police stopped a stolen 1997 Honda Accord at N. Coast Hwy and Ledroit Street at 3:38 Sunday morning. The Honda had been reported stolen by Monterey Park PD early in September.

Two women, Kristy Lee Holguin, 36 of West Covina and Erika Lynn Strauss, 27, Monterey Park, were cleared from the Honda at gunpoint eight minutes later.

Both women were arrested for felony auto theft with $20,000 bail.

Police Files

Suspect arrested in Costa Mesa after being connected to thefts from unlocked vehicles here September 27

From a LBPD press release

On Tuesday September 29, a concerned citizen called the Costa Mesa Police Department to report a suspicious male who was wiping down the interior of a parked vehicle. The caller provided a license plate, which came back to a stolen vehicle from the City of Westminster. Responding officers attempted to contact the man, but he ran from the scene and was chased for a short distance. 

After being caught and arrested for possessing the stolen vehicle, Costa Mesa Officers searched the car and located several items, which appeared to have been stolen from Laguna Beach residents. These consisted of; passports, checkbooks, personal paperwork, wallets, driver’s licenses, prescription pills, purses, makeup, clothing, car keys and license plates. 

Laguna Beach Detectives retrieved the property and began contacting the residents. To date, five different victims have been identified and their property has been returned to them. All were victimized during the previous Sunday night and early Monday morning when the items were stolen from their unlocked vehicles parked on Temple Hills Drive, Dunning Drive and Viejo Street. The total loss is estimated to exceed $3,000 with some of the items still missing (laptop and Go Pro Camera).

The suspect is currently in custody at Orange County Jail and Detectives will be seeking additional theft charges for the Laguna Beach crimes. 

Part of the investigation yielded property possibly belonging to Newport Beach victims. These items were turned over to their detectives for follow-up. 

The suspect, Scott Callahan, 25 of Santa Ana, is an AB109 early release probationer who was previously convicted of auto theft. 

Police Files

Man swam nude off Aliso for two-plus hours Thursday and refused to allow lifeguards to pull him to safety

South Laguna resident Linda Saville told us Thursday morning that she had shook her head when she saw a man trotting down Coast Hwy near Aliso Beach with only a white towel around his waist. “It was way too chilly for that,” she added.

That was about 9:36.

She arrived at her nearby home and looked toward the beach after she heard a siren. The man had dropped the towel. “He didn’t have anything else on and was swimming out from shore. After about 10 minutes, a lifeguard entered the water and went after him.”

Linda said that she watched the situation and the man constantly put on a burst of speed to avoid whatever the lifeguards tried to get him out of the water.

“He was a very good swimmer against the wind and current […and chilly water],” she said adding that he was out near the mile buoy quickly and still swimming easily.

Meanwhile, the Sheriff’s Harbor Patrol boat and wave runner arrived on scene and made attempts to get to the man – who kept swimming away from them.

At about noon, after he’d been in the water in the buff for two hours, lifeguards had convinced the unidentified man to allow them to pull him from the water and take him to shore. He was loaded into an ambulance and taken to hospital for a 72-hour mental evaluation, police said.

Police Files

$100,000 in losses from burglarized SoLag home 

Details are few at this time, but a homeowner who had been away for the past two weeks returned to find the home in the 31100 block of Aliso Circle had been burglarized. Police received the call at 11:33 a.m. this past Tuesday.

The police log indicated that the victim spoke of missing collectibles, electronics, furniture and miscellaneous items.

The OC Sheriff Department’s CSI team responded to the scene Tuesday.

Sgt. Tim Kleiser of the LBPD said the owner’s preliminary estimate of the losses was $100,000.

Detectives are investigating.

Police Files

Emerald Bay resident pleads guilty for causing the death of bicyclist John Colvin on June 17, 2014 near Emerald Bay

Dylan Thomas Rand-Luby, 21, Emerald Bay, pleaded guilty to one count of felony hit and run with injury and one count of misdemeanor manslaughter Monday afternoon. He was sentenced to one year in jail and three years of formal probation. 

Rand-Luby was accused of driving a 2005 Toyota Prius northbound on North Coast Highway in the Emerald Bay area. He allegedly veered out of his lane and struck 55-year-old Laguna Beach resident John Colvin as he rode his bicycle northbound in the bike lane adjacent to Coast Highway.

After the collision, Rand-Luby failed to stop to render aid and continued driving northbound. His front windshield was shattered and witnesses said he had to lean out the driver’s side window in order to see the roadway ahead. 

Two witnesses followed the Toyota Prius until Rand-Luby finally pulled over in the El Morro School parking lot and was confronted by them. One detained Rand-Luby while a second called 911. 

After an extremely thorough and exhaustive investigation into the accident, Laguna Beach Traffic Investigators submitted the case to the District Attorney’s Office seeking criminal charges against Dylan Rand-Luby. 

Prior traffic offenses

StuNews did a check of court records after he had been charged in Feb 2015 and found that Rand-Luby was ticketed in Oct of 2012 for using a cell phone while driving; issued a citation in July of 2013 for texting while driving and in April, 2013, for running a red light. He attended traffic school for the latter charge and was released from that obligation on June 13, 2014 – four days before the fatal collision with the bicyclist.


Homeless man arrested for robbery of a bike at Main Beach

Police responded to a report of a fight between two men on the cobblestones at Main Beach at 3:30 last Wednesday afternoon. On scene, one man was still there and told officers that a man he didn’t know came up to him as he rode his bike and challenged him to a fight.

The victim said the suspect then pushed him down causing him to fall off of his bike then the other man rode away on the bicycle.

Police did an area search and according to Sgt. Tim Kleiser, Shawn Stover, 38, no fixed address, and the stolen bicycle were located at the Broadway Bus Depot.

Stover was arrested for felony robbery and bail was set at $100,000. 


Two more stolen car arrests made in town

Laguna Beach police stopped two more stolen cars in town over the weekend and arrested two people on felony charges.

At 3:42 Saturday morning, a patrol officer stopped a white Kia Optima at N. Coast Hwy and Aster St for a traffic violation.

Sgt. Tim Kleiser of the LBPD said the driver made statements that led the officer to suspect that the Kia had been stolen. The registered owner was contacted and it in fact had been stolen earlier in South Laguna.

Kevin Patrick Sheehan, 19, Lakewood was arrested for felony vehicle theft.

Early Sunday morning, an officer spotted a stolen 2017 Hyundai Elantra that had been reported stolen from Hertz on Aug 19 heading into town at 2:42. Sufficient units were able to make a felony car stop at Canyon Acres and Laguna Canyon Road.

Rosalinda Romero, 38, Hemet, was arrested on charges of felony possession of a stolen vehicle, giving false information to an officer misdemeanor possession of drugs.

She was also held for two felony warrants – one from Los Angeles and the other from Riverside with total bail of $45,000 on the warrants. 

Police Files

Newport Beach teens smash into 5 cars speeding in Mercedes Saturday 

Two Newport Beach teenagers, a 17-year-old boy and a 16-year-old girl, drove a Mercedes CLK through Laguna Beach for a little over 15 minutes and collided with five vehicles along the way.

Police were called about a hit and run at Alexander Road and Ashton Drive just before ten o’clock Saturday morning. The boy was driving the black Mercedes when he struck an occupied car and drove away, Sgt. Tim Kleiser of the LBPD said Monday.

“The victim followed the Mercedes and confronted the 17-year-old male driver in the area of Rounsevel Terrace. The driver exited the car and while speaking with the victim a 16-year-old female climbed into the driver’s seat and drove away in the Mercedes. While driving away, the Mercedes collided into several parked vehicles,” Sgt. Kleiser added.

The boy then ran to the Mercedes and took over the driving as they fled the area.

Click on photo for a larger image

Photo by Janelle Hilton

Police with one of the two girls detained at the Mobil station

Laguna’s 9-1-1 dispatchers received multiple calls about the Mercedes speeding north on Coast Highway in the middle lane. Officers gave pursuit near Bluebird canyon Drive before making a felony car stop in the Mobil parking lot downtown.

A 15-year-old Irvine girl was also in the Mercedes.

All three were taken to the police station and issued citations before being released to their parents.

The charges included possession of alcohol and drugs, hit and run, and driving without a license. 

Two arrested after strong-arm robbery in Gelson’s parking lot

Two men walked up to a man in the parking lot near Gelson’s in South Laguna around 3:45 Thursday afternoon and asked if he had a cigarette. When the man began to speak with them, one of the pair began to repeatedly punch him in the face. His wallet was grabbed out of his hand and the two fled in a Mercedes with paper plates.

Officers spotted the suspect vehicle northbound on Coast Highway and made a felony car stop in the Circle K parking lot in the 800 block of Glenneyre.

Click on photo for a larger image

Photo by Mark Nelson

Police search the suspect’s Mercedes in the Circle K parking lot

Police arrested Jose Victor Zuniga, III, 30, Santa Ana and Brannon Morse Hazelrigg, 25, Newport Beach. Both were charged with felony robbery and conspiracy to commit a crime. Hazelrigg was also charged with felony battery causing bodily injury and possession of a controlled substance.

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

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

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.

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

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

Applications will be accepted until Jan 19, 2018. 

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

Click on photo for larger image

Graduating Class of 2016

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

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

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

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

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

Police Files

DUI checks planned for Jan 12 and 18

Officers from the Laguna Beach Police Department’s DUI Enforcement Team will be deploying this weekend to stop and arrest alcohol and drug-impaired drivers in the Department’s ongoing traffic safety campaign. DUI Saturation Patrols will deploy Friday, Jan 12 and Thurs, Jan 18, between the hours of 5 p.m. and 3 a.m. in areas with high frequencies of DUI collisions and/or arrests.

In California, this deadly crime led to 1,155 deaths and nearly 24,000 injuries in 2014 because someone failed to designate a sober driver. Officers will be looking for signs of alcohol and/or drug impairment. When possible, specially trained officers will be available to evaluate those suspected of drug-impaired driving, which now accounts for a growing number of impaired driving crashes.  

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

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

Everyone should be mindful that if you’re taking medication – whether prescription or over-the-counter – drinking even small amounts of alcohol can greatly intensify the impairment affects.  

Law Enforcement emphasizes the preventable nature of drunk driving, reminding everyone that all it takes is a little planning ahead. Designate a sober driver or call a cab. But whatever you do, don’t drink and drive. The cost of a ride home is cheap! Drivers caught driving impaired can expect the impact of a DUI arrest to include jail time, fines, fees, DUI classes, license suspensions and other expenses that can exceed $10,000 not to mention the embarrassment when friends and family find out.

Funding for this DUI operation is provided to the Laguna Beach Police Department by a grant from the California Office of Traffic Safety, through the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, reminding everyone to ‘Report Drunk Driving – Call 9-1-1. 

For further information, contact Lieutenant Tim Kleiser at (949) 464-6655 or This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. .

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

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

Click on photo for a larger image

Photo by Mary Hurlbut

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

ACT V Parking Lot – 1900 Laguna Canyon Road or 

Aliso Beach Inland Parking Lot – 31118 Coast Highway.

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

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

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Submitted photo

Floods can cause serious damage

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

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

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

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

Police Files

One car – 2 DUI arrests in 43 minutes – 3 blocks apart

An officer stopped a car at S. Coast Hwy and Agate St driven by Erick Fernando Aguilar, 22 of Anaheim, at 3:34 Friday morning. After a field sobriety test, he was arrested for DUI.

According to the police log, he provided ID of another person. When that was sorted through, he was also arrested on a felony charge of false personation that could lead to liability on the part of the actual person. Bail for that offense was $20,000.

There were three passengers in his car and a second officer called a Yellow Cab for them and secured the car, which was left legally parked at the car stop location. Yellow Cab told the dispatcher the trio would be picked up and taken to Anaheim in about 30 minutes.

At 4:17 – at S. Coast Hwy and Moss St, another officer stopped the same car for suspicion of drunk driving. Elizabeth Ayala, 24, Irvine, was arrested for DUI.

She and the other two passengers decided not to wait for the cab and used an extra key to unlock and drive Aguilar’s car.


While a hotel guest used the bathroom, his friend who was also staying in the room took $3118 in loot

Police said the second in-person meeting from an Internet hook up didn’t go as well as one man had hoped.

They had checked into a hotel on S. Coast Hwy and while the victim was in the bathroom, his friend grabbed various electronics and $2600 in cash and was gone when the victim came out of the bathroom.

Detectives are following up to trace the suspect through the Internet site.

Sheriff’s investigators seek public’s help in identifying deceased male found off Crystal Cove Christmas Eve

On Tuesday, December 24, 2013, Orange County Sheriff’s Department investigators began a death investigation after the body of an unidentified male was located floating approximately one mile off the Newport Beach coast area of Crystal Cove. The body was initially located by a commercial fisherman who contacted the Sheriff’s Dept.

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The male subject was wearing dark-colored, nylon “Champion” sweatpants with zippered legs, size 11, black Asics running shoes and a black “Timex” watch with a plastic band.  The victim’s age and race is unknown and believed to be approximately 5 feet, 9 inches tall, 165 pounds with dark colored hair.

Since recovery of the body, Sheriff’s Investigators have yet to identify the subject and are seeking the public’s help.   Anyone with information is asked to call the Orange County Sheriff’s Department investigators at (714) 647-7044 / (714) 647-7000.  Anonymous tips may also be submitted to Orange County Crime Stoppers at 855-TIP-OCCS (855-847-6227) or at occrimestoppers.org.

Laguna will have a permanent Police Officers Memorial

All tickets were sold for the Laguna Beach Police Officers Memorial fundraise at Mare Culinary Lounge Monday night and well over the needed $40,000 has been raised. A permanent memorial will be installed next to the police station honoring Jon Coutchie and Gordon French who lost their lives in the line of duty. 

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Cliff Getz photos

In addition to the $75 per ticket, supporters also took part in a silent auction and Mare Culinary Lounge owner Chef Alessandro Pirozzi provided his restaurant and food for the event.

Laguna Beach Police Employees President Larry Bammer spearheaded the effort. “To raise the funds we partnered with the Laguna Beach Community Foundation, a 501(c)(3), to receive donations. The Laguna Beach Police Officer Memorial Artwork Advisory Committee includes City Treasurer Laura Parisi Laguna Beach resident and Rotarian, LBPD Lieutenant, and Jon’s close friend, Jeff Calvert and myself.”


Chef Alessandro Pirozzi, Larry Bammer, and Luciana Coutchie at Monday’s fundraiser

Police Files

Man arrested for vandalizing six vehicles in South Laguna

The police log holds an incident report from 7:14 a.m. Monday that six vehicles were discovered to have been vandalized in the north portion of the parking lot of the strip center near Coast Hwy and Montage Resort Drive.

Police said the report had not been completed Thursday. 

Sgt. Tim Kleiser said in an email Thursday morning: “When the officers arrived on scene, they located a suspect and detained him. The officers subsequently arrested Tyler Collier, 32 from San Clemente, for…vandalism.”


Laguna Beach Police Department plans DUI Checkpoint and Saturation DUI Patrols over Memorial Day Weekend

The Laguna Beach Police Department will be conducting a DUI/Driver’s License checkpoint at an undisclosed location within the city limits along with special DUI Roving Saturation Patrols over the Memorial Day weekend.

DUI/Driver’s License Checkpoint is set for Sunday, May 24, from 8 p.m. to 3 a.m.

The Roving DUI Saturation Patrols will be deploying on Friday, May 22. 

Over the course of the past three years, DUI collisions have resulted in 38 injury crashes harming 55 of our friends and neighbors in Laguna Beach. In California, this deadly crime led to 802 deaths because someone failed to designate a sober driver. Alcohol and drug-impaired deaths still make up the largest category of overall vehicle fatalities in 2012 with 29 percent of all deaths caused by a drunk driver. A DUI checkpoint is a proven effective method to lower these numbers. 

Additionally, drivers will be checked to ensure that they have a valid driver’s license. When possible, specially trained officers will be available to evaluate those suspected of drug-impaired driving. 

The Laguna Beach Police Department wants to remind everyone that they can assist in preventing this crime from ever occurring. If you are planning a gathering or celebration with alcohol included, or if you are out on the town, plan ahead and designate a non-drinking sober driver. 

A DUI and drug-impaired arrest can cost up to $10,000 or even more, including time in jail, the loss or your driver’s license and high insurance rates.
These enforcement efforts are funded by a grant from the California Office of Traffic Safety, through the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. 

Remember, everyone is encouraged to help keep our roadways safe: Report Drunk Drivers – Call 911!

Police Files

This is why you call 9-1-1 when you have spotted a drunk driver

Police everywhere encourage drivers who feel they have spotted an impaired or drunk driver to call 9-1-1 and report what you saw.

Just after midnight Sunday, the police dispatchers received such a call from a motorist at PCH and Crown Valley Parkway. The caller described a woman heading into Laguna very slowly in a silver Cadillac, adding that the woman had upchucked out of the driver’s side window and driven onto the curb “…a few times…”

Four minutes later, the caller told the dispatcher that the Cadillac had stopped in the right hand traffic lane in the 31700 block of Coast Highway after passing out.

That’s where patrol units found the silver Cadillac five minutes after the 9-1-1 call blocking a driveway. The driver was, in fact, sleeping in the driver’s seat, police said.

Whittier resident Carla Ramsing Lowinger, 55, was arrested for drunk driving. 


Detectives make an arrest in electronic theft case from March 16

A Newport Beach man was arrested at his place of employment in Fountain Valley last Thursday and charged with felony ID theft.

The arrest culminated an investigation that began on March 16 when a victim in the 400 block of Myrtle Street reported that an unknown suspect had electronically pilfered $10,191.55 from a bank account.

LBPD detectives arrested Gabriel Nelson Aleman, Jr., 51 of Newport Beach, without incident.

Police did not release the details of the investigation at this time.

Police Files

Gotcha founder arrested for cocaine sales during probation search

Police conducted a routine probation search of Michael Tomson, 60, in his home in the 31700 block of Mar Vista Avenue at 6:43 a.m. last Thursday.

Tomson, a former pro surfer, and a partner launched the very successful Gotcha surf wear line in a Laguna Beach garage in 1978. Within a few years, Gotcha became a leader in the industry. They sold the business later in 2008. 

Tomson was on formal probation after a cocaine possession conviction in Laguna Beach two years ago.

Sergeant Tim Kleiser of the LBPD said, “Officers found 52 grams of cocaine during the search and items consistent with the sales of narcotics.”

 Tomson was arrested for felony possession of narcotics for sales and probation violation. He was booked and taken to county jail without bail.

Sheriff’s Dept. leaves parolee at large at hospital ER – Laguna police arrest the suspect when he leaves ER

When Zachary Sussman, 23 of Dana Point, left the ER at 2:04 p.m., Laguna police were called.

OC Sheriff’s deputies transported a parolee at large to the Mission Hospital’s ER for a medical clearance last Friday. According to the Police Log, the parolee was suspected of a drug overdose. When they learned the clearance would take an extended time period, they left him there.

Sussman was located a few blocks away and taken into custody. He immediately became uncooperative and was once again taken to the ER for medical clearance. LBPD officers remained with him and once cleared, he was arrested for no bail parole violation.

No information was available as to why the Sheriff’s deputies left him unsupervised at the ER.

Thoughtful thief leaves $100 bill after stealing $1000 potted plant

A resident in the 400 block of Oak Street reported the theft of a potted plant valued at $1,000 at 12:10 p.m. Saturday.

She explained to officers that there had been a party at her home Friday night and a few of the women there had asked if she would sell the plant. She thanked them for their interest but said it was not for sale.

When she discovered that the plant was missing Saturday, she also found a $100 bill under her front porch doormat.

The value of the plant makes the crime a felony – grand theft. Detectives will be investigating, police said.

Police Files

20 trees disappeared from Coast Highway property

The owner of a property in the 31000 block of Coast Hwy in South Laguna called police Friday afternoon to report that 20 trees had been removed.

The owner said the total loss was $50,000.

Police did not release any other details saying only that the case was under investigation.

We will provide more details when available.


Police stopped a stolen minivan and made an arrest 

Photos by Scott Brashier

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Officers after securing the scene by the Hare Krishna Temple Thursday night

Laguna Beach police units stopped a stolen Honda Odyssey on Glenneyre at Legion Street at 9:14 last Thursday night.

The minivan had been reported stolen from Laguna Hills.

Sgt. Tim Kleiser of the LBPD said the stolen vehicle was spotted by an officer inbound on Laguna Canyon Road. Once sufficient patrol units were with the first officer, the Honda was stopped.

A high-risk car stop ensued and each of the five occupants was removed one at a time at gunpoint. Two adults and three juveniles were detained, Sgt. Kleiser said.

Kleiser added, “A 16 year old juvenile resident of Laguna Hills was driving the Honda. He was booked for vehicle theft. The other subjects were released without charges.

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A 16-year-old boy from Laguna Hills was booked for vehicle theft


Poor aim with an avocado still lands a man in jail nonetheless

An officer made contact Friday morning with a male and female who had been camping on Treasure Island Beach and directed them to pack up and leave.

Sgt. Tim Kleiser told us Monday, “While the officer was speaking with them, the male became upset and threw an avocado toward the officer, without hitting his intended target.”

Jeffrey Noon, 61, no fixed address, was arrested for misdemeanor assault on a police officer.

Police Files

Cops observe man push his girlfriend to the pavement downtown on Ocean Avenue early Saturday morning

Mir Hosseini Arash, 25, Laguna Beach, was arrested for felony domestic battery and resisting arrest at 12:56 a.m. Saturday after approaching officers saw him forcibly push a woman causing her to fall on the sidewalk.

The incident happened in the 200 block of Ocean Avenue.

Sgt. Tim Kleiser of the LBPD said, “Patrol officers first saw the male and female arguing in the middle of the street. They walked into a club but were quickly escorted out by security.”

The officers began to approach them when another man tried to stop the argument. Before the officers reached the couple, the saw Arash push the woman causing her to fall, according to Sgt. Kleiser. “The female sustained a cut to her face from the fall,” Sgt. Kleiser added. Police later learned that they were boyfriend and girlfriend and that the other man was the suspect’s brother.

The officers detained Arash after a short struggle.

He was booked with bail set by statute at $50,000.

Did all those sirens on Coast Hwy awaken you Friday?

We heard from several residents who were awakened in the wee hours Friday by sirens and a helicopter rushing northbound through the city on Coast Highway.

The OC Sheriff’s Department began chasing a stolen Mazda sedan in San Juan Capistrano at about 3:15. The Mazda, with three occupants, headed into Dana Point then northbound on PCH and into Laguna Beach.

Sgt. Tim Kleiser said one Laguna patrol unit followed the chase through town beginning at 3:22. The Mazda and the six or more Sheriff’s units and the copter kept going north and into Newport Beach before entering the southbound 73 toll road.

The OCSD used a spike strip in Aliso Viejo to stop the Mazda and arrested the three men – all documented as San Clemente gang members – for felony possession of stolen property. 

Police Files

LB cop punched by intoxicated man – required stitches

An intoxicated man outside of an Ocean Avenue bar punched a Laguna Beach police officer in the face Saturday night. The officer required stitches in his chin.

Sgt. Tim Kleiser said Monday, “An officer saw two intoxicated men walking on the 200 block of Ocean Avenue near Hennessey’s at 9:58 p.m. The officer approached them to let them know they were too intoxicated and one walked towards the officer and tried unsuccessfully to grab his badge.”

Kleiser said the two men then tried to enter the bar but were told by the officer and a security guard that they were too drunk to go inside.

After a few words, the same man (Ben Percival, 29, Huntington Beach) that tried to grab the badge then aggressively approached the officer.

“The officer tried to push the male away, but was struck in the face by the male with a closed fist,” Kleiser said. “The officer was able to take the male to the ground and a security guard from Hennessey’s assisted the officer. Several other PD units arrived on scene and the male suspect was subsequently placed into handcuffs.”

Percival was arrested on charges of felony battery, felony resisting arrest, and misdemeanor battery on a peace officer.

Police Files

Cops find concealed stolen rifles at Alta Laguna Park

A Laguna patrol officer checked out two men just before midnight in Alta Laguna Park last Wednesday. One of the men took off on foot as the officer detained the other. Additional units responded to the scene.

Eventually, officers connected Kyle Enoka, 23, Fountain Valley, with a parked vehicle and discovered an empty rifle bag behind the back seat. A further search, which encompassed nearly an hour, turned up concealed rifles – a Smith & Wesson M&P 15 (that brand’s AR 15 equivalent) and a Ruger.

The two rifles had been reported stolen in Fountain Valley in mid-January, Sgt. Tim Kleiser of the LBPD said.

Enoka was arrested for carrying a concealed stolen firearm, possession of stolen property and possession of methamphetamine.

Power outage, trees down, high wind and rain Sunday

4,000 Edison customers had power outages of up to two hours Sunday when a tree fell on a power line from high winds in the 2100 block of Temple Hills Drive. That caused a transformer to blow up.

The outages covered the downtown area and several blocks south of Thalia Street. No injuries were reported.

Other wires and several trees were knocked down.

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Parking is always a problem in Laguna Beach – but this is taking that truth too far. Municipal Services cleared the tree quickly allowing traffic to suffer only a short time on Broadway. We thank Jason Pannell for posting this photo on Facebook.

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Scott Brashier

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Mary Hurlbut

Police Files

Five injured, (two critically) in crash near El Morro Monday night

A two-vehicle crash on Coast Highway near the entrance to El Morro Elementary School at about 9:15 Monday night sent five people to area hospitals.

A 20-year-old woman and a 19-year-old man were critically injured when they were ejected from a Ford SUV that rolled over after colliding with a Dodge Caravan.

A 10-year-old girl in the SUV received minor injuries and was transported to Children’s Hospital in Orange. A fourth occupant of the SUV was also injured, as was the only occupant – an older woman – of the Dodge Caravan.

All four adults were taken to trauma centers – two went to Mission Trauma Center in Mission Viejo and the others to OC Global Medical Center in Santa Ana. 

Coast Highway was closed in both directions from Newport Coast to the north city limits of Laguna Beach.

No details about the cause of the crash were immediately available.

Police Files

Stolen car hits 100 MPH thru Laguna Canyon while being chased by Santa Ana PD; stop made in No Lag

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Photo by Tom Crank

Santa Ana PD, OC Sheriff’s units, CHP and LBPD all pursued the stolen Honda in this photograph before it was stopped headed the wrong way on Monterey Drive near Poplar Street in North Laguna last Thursday afternoon. The Honda hit speeds of 100 mph on Laguna Canyon Road, police said. LBPD officers used a spike strip in the 600 block of Laguna Canyon Road flattening the two tires on the left side. The driver managed to keep going until being stopped in North Laguna. Santa Ana officers detained and arrested the suspect at about 3:30 p.m.

If you get drunk, yell and fight in a car, put the top up

9-1-1 callers last Wednesday afternoon reported that a female passenger in a convertible was screaming loudly that she wanted to be let out of the car. The callers said the convertible, with its top down, had left northbound.

Police stopped the car on Hillcrest Drive near Riddle Field at 4:35.

After speaking with the man who was driving and the woman passenger who had been screaming, LBPD officers arrested Newport Beach resident Gemma Johnson, 37, for being drunk in public, violation of a court protective order and felony domestic battery. Her bail was $50,000.

Police Files

House rented through Airbnb – safe missing $192,000

Laguna Beach PD detectives are investigating a theft report from last Thursday in the 2700 block of S. Coast Hwy.

Sgt. Tim Kleiser said the homeowner had rented on Airbnb for three days to a known individual.

“The victim checked on the home and noticed that a safe had been accessed,” Sgt. Kleiser said. “Cash and gold coins totaling $192,000 were missing.”

Police did not release any further details.

Store employee follows suspect to retrieve $445 sunglasses

An employee of a retail store in the 200 block of Ocean Avenue saw a man walk out of the store after pilfering sunglasses valued at $445. The employee followed the suspect to a black Honda Fit parked on Coast Hwy.

The employee tried to stop the suspect before he entered the car.

Sgt. Tim Kleiser of the LBPD said, “After a brief struggle, the suspect threw the sunglasses into the air and drove away.”

According to the police log, the RP said the Honda had “…lots of…items inside…” 

The suspect was described as being about 40 with graying hair and a mustache.

Police Files

Man grabbed backpack from bus rider and took off running – police nabbed the suspect a half-hour later

A 9-1-1 caller reported to police that his backpack containing $1800 had been grabbed out of his hands as he exited a Laguna Beach transit bus on S. Coast Hwy Friday at 6:14 p.m. He said the man that took it just came up, took the backpack and ran off east on a side street.

The victim described the suspect as having dark hair and wearing a maroon shirt.

As officers were discussing the man’s description, a woman told them she had just seen a man with a maroon shirt a couple of block east of the location.

Officers did an immediate area search and located the possible suspect in the 500 block of Flora Street about 30 minutes after the 9-1-1 call. 

The victim was taken to the location and identified the suspect. His money was recovered but the backpack was missing, Sgt. Tim Kleiser of the LBPD said.

 Anthony Louis Ulrich, 24, San Juan Capistrano, was arrested for felony grand theft.

Police Files

Knocking on the door of a home where there is a court restraining order against you with your pocket full of drugs isn’t a good thing to do

Ashton Jon Riley, 29, Huntington Beach, pounded on a door in the 300 block of Oak Street at 9:36 last Friday night. It was a door he was prohibited from coming close to by a court issued restraining order.

Police were called and soon had Riley detained as they sorted though things and verified that the restraining order was in effect.

Riley was arrested first for an outstanding Central Court warrant for vandalism and for intentional violation of a court order when its status was confirmed. 

A subsequent search turned up four and a half grams of methamphetamine and over four grams of marijuana leading to a drug possession charge.

Police Files

LBHS football coach arrested for public intoxication

Laguna Beach High School’s head football coach, John M. Shanahan, 44, was arrested in the 1100 block of S. Coast Hwy at 10:01 Saturday night on a charge of public intoxication.

Shanahan, in his first season at the school, was on foot when an officer made contact with him.

It was reported that Shanahan met with his players at Monday’s practice and told them of his arrest. Reportedly, he presented the situation to them as a learning experience.

LBHS Principal Chris Herzfeld said he wasn’t able to comment on any possible personnel issue.

Three bicyclists injured on Laguna Canyon Rd early Saturday

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Emergency personnel responded to Laguna canyon Road near El Toro Road at 7:42 Saturday morning after 9-1-1 callers reported that three bicyclists were on the ground.

LBPD Sgt. Tim Kleiser said Monday, “No vehicles were involved and the officers did find chunks of a concrete block along the shoulder of the roadway that had possibly fallen from a construction truck based on witness statements.”

One of the bicyclists was treated as a trauma patient with facial and head injuries. That patient and another bicyclist were transported to Mission Trauma Center in Mission Viejo. The second patient suffered non-trauma injuries – a possible broken arm. The third person was treated and released at the scene.

A doctor and a nurse who had been among the large group of bicyclists stopped and were treating the injured when emergency personnel arrived on scene. 

No further details were available Monday.

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

Laguna Niguel man arrested for two attempted robberies Saturday

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Photo by Kay Metis

Several police units set up downtown to make arrest of suspect

LBPD officers arrested a Laguna Niguel man, 27, at Glenneyre and Forest Ave at 11:43 a.m. Saturday after he attempted to rob two downtown businesses.

LBPD Sgt. Tim Kleiser said Monday, “Officers responded to Art of Dr. Seuss in the 400 block of S. Coast Hwy for a robbery that had just occurred. The officers located the male suspect near Glenneyre and Forest and he struggled with the officers. They were able to detain the male and learned that he had also committed a robbery at Tuvalu located nearby. 

The suspect had entered Tuvalu and approached the store clerk at the register and ordered the employee to empty the register and give him all the money. The employee ran next door and called the police. The same male had previously run into Art of Dr. Seuss and demanded money an employee there. The employee told the suspect she did not have any money and he left. Nothing was taken from either business.

Joshua Poeske was taken into custody felony robbery, misdemeanor battery on a peace officer, and misdemeanor resisting arrest.

Sgt. Kleiser explained: “While in the booking room at the PD, Poeske kicked an officer and additional officers responded to the jail. After a struggle with Poeske they were able to detain him within the jail. An officer received minor injuries from the altercation.

The combative suspect was immediately taken to Orange County Jail, police said.

Stolen vehicle recovered on El Paseo – arrest made

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Photo by Dennis Rooney

Police secured the scene on El Paseo without incident

Police spotted a stolen 2009 Hyundai and managed to perform a felony car stop on El Paseo near the Main Beach cobblestones late Sunday afternoon.

Details were sparse other than it is known that Michael Mitchell, 51 of Orange, was arrested for felony possession of stolen property.

Police Files

Boy, 17, with no license, nabbed for speeding with 5-yr-old in car

A Laguna Beach PD motor officer stopped a car on North Coast Highway near Irvine Cove Drive for speeding at 9:49 Sunday morning.

When the officer spoke to the driver, he learned that he was a 17-year-old without a driver’s license. He had also been reported as a missing juvenile but police were able to confirm that he had returned home but that had not been reported to police.

There were three passengers with the 17-year-old – boys 5 and 13 who were his brothers and a 19-year-old friend.

The officer also detected something else – a definite odor of marijuana. Once an additional officer was on scene, an investigation for pot began. The 19-year-old soon admitted to having more marijuana and a small amount was located in his shirt. He was issued a citation for possession of less than an ounce of marijuana.

Police detained the three juveniles from Costa Mesa and took them to the police station where they were released to an adult family member after further investigation.

It is possible that additional charges might stem from the incident.

Police Files

Yes – that really was an adult sea lion on Coast Hwy

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Still from a video courtesy

of Danny Rendon of

Stop N Go – North Laguna

An adult sea lion stopped traffic in both directions for several minutes when it tried crossing N. Coast Hwy near Cajon Street Monday morning before 7 a.m. Police responded and held off the traffic until animal services and a rescue unit from Pacific Marine Mammal Center arrived. It was gently coaxed off onto a lot next to Midas where PMMC safely captured it and took it for observation.

Felony hit and run driver pulled over on 405 Fwy

Police and paramedics responded to a report of a hit and run injury crash outbound on Laguna Canyon Road near the dog park at 5:22 p.m. Saturday. One person was injured, police said.

One LBPD patrol unit hurried out Laguna Canyon Road and located the suspect vehicle on the 133 heading onto the northbound 5 Freeway. A stop was made near Jeffrey Road and the 405.

In the process, the hit and run driver, Allan Anthony Bulsiewicz, 68, Seal Beach, was involved in another crash. Details of the second crash were unavailable Monday.

Bulsiewicz was arrested for DUI and felony hit and run causing injury.

Police Files

Trio has poor timing for a grab and run burglary from downtown store; a cop was driving up the street as they ran to getaway car 


An officer was on routine patrol in the 200 block of Forest Avenue at 6:08 p.m. Saturday when he saw a young female and a male running from Robin’s Jean. Both had “…arms full of merchandise…towards a getaway vehicle parked on Forest Avenue,” according to a Thursday afternoon press release from LBPD spokesman Jordan Villwock.

“After a short foot pursuit and with the assistance of additional officers, a total of three suspects were detained at the getaway vehicle and subsequently arrested.”

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A suspect is taken into custody after the female had been apprehended

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A second suspect was removed from the vehicle and arrested

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Officers approach the vehicle to be sure it was cleared per standard protocol

The press release identified the two men arrested as Matthew Morgan, 21 and Geron Funches, 20, both of Los Angeles. The female, 16, also from LA, was held and later released to a parent at the police station. All three were charged with felony burglary and conspiracy to commit a crime.

The two leaving the store dropped merchandise valued at $11,553 in the street where it was recovered and held as evidence. 

Forest Avenue was opened a short time later according to the press release.

Police Files

Scam alert from the LBPD – their officers never solicit money – but there are scammers claiming to be with the LBPD who are 

Late last week the Police Department was made aware of telephone scam where the calling party identified themselves as a Police Captain with the Laguna Beach Police Department and appeared to be calling from its non-emergency number. The individual demanded that they withdraw $2,000 in order to not be arrested for a supposed warrant for not attending jury duty.

Neither the Laguna Beach Police Department nor any governmental agency will ever call and solicit money for fines and does not solicit warrant information by phone. The Police Department will never ask you to get a money order, gift card, or wire transfer. If you receive this type of phone call, always verify who the caller truly is, do not use a phone number they provide you as verification. Usually, the number provided by the thief will go to a voice recording/message. 

Call the Laguna Beach Police Department to verify any solicitation.

If you have sent money or believe that you are a victim of a crime, please call the Laguna Beach Police Department to report the incident.

Anyone with information regarding this crime can contact Sgt. Tim Kleiser, Public Information Officer, mailto: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. or 949-464-6671.

Police Files

18-year-old arrested for impersonating a police officer

Click on photo for a larger image

Photo courtesy LBPD

Allan Sauer, 18, Costa Mesa, was arrested at 1:31 Sunday morning near West Street on Coast Hwy in South Laguna after being stopped for speeding.

Sgt. Tim Kleiser of the LBPD told us Monday, “The officer initially thought the vehicle (above) was possibly associated with a law enforcement agency as the vehicle was a white Ford Crown Victoria Police Interceptor model that also had a front push bar. When the officer was speaking with the driver he noticed the vehicle was equipped with a prisoner cage in the rear seating area, a laptop computer mounted in the center console similar to what police agencies have and it had spotlights on both A-pillars.”

A search of the car turned up “…a California Department of Fish and Game citation book, yellow ‘Sheriff’s Do Not Cross’ tape, and several other items that were law enforcement associated. They also noticed the vehicle was equipped with emergency lights and siren,” Sgt. Kleiser added.

The driver was wearing green pants and a jacket that resembled what OC Sheriff’s deputies wear as their regular uniforms.

Sauer denied that he was a police officer.

He was charged with misdemeanor impersonating a police officer.

Laguna Beach man among four charged with bilking investors of over $1 million in development scheme

The OC District Attorney said that Jourdan Tyson Groves, 37, Laguna Beach, and three other South OC men have been charged with 12 felony counts of using an untrue statement in the purchase or sale of a security and one felony count of using a device with a scheme to defraud with sentencing enhancement allegations for over $100,000 loss, aggravated white collar crime over $100,000, aggravated white collar crime over $500,000, property damage or loss over $65,000, and property loss over $200,000. If convicted, Groves and the other men each face a maximum sentence of 24 years in state prison. Groves is out of custody on $1 million bail.

The charges stem from a plan to develop a project to build a miniature golf course, restaurant, and water park in San Clemente.

They are accused of using the money to pay for attorney fees, pay themselves salaries, and taking large cash withdrawals without disclosing it to investors and of misappropriating investor funds by spending investment money on restaurants, gas, hotels, utilities, air travel and at retail stores.

IRS scammers convince Laguna resident to pay $5000 

A Laguna Beach resident received a phone call last Thursday from a female who said she was an IRS employee who demanded that the victim immediately deposit $5,000 into a specified bank account to avoid an immediate arrest.

The victim complied because the $5,000 was the amount actually owed to the IRS in taxes. 

The victim became suspicious when the female called again and demanded that an additional $3,750 be deposited.

According to the police log a call to the IRS by the victim resulted in their being informed that the IRS system had been breached.

The victim then called the Laguna Beach PD and made the fraud report. 

Police Files

Homeless man tries to throw rocks and does spit in officer’s face

Joseph Robert Kirkpatrick, 51, no fixed address, was arrested on three felony charges Tuesday afternoon after officers awakened him from trespassing and sleeping in an underground parking lot in the 900 block of Glenneyre.

Sgt. Tim Kleiser of the LBPD said that when officers made contact, “Kirkpatrick was agitated and threatened to throw some nearby rocks at the officers. During the conversation, he sat up quickly and grabbed several rocks. The officers were able to quickly grab onto his arms to prevent him from throwing the rocks at them.

  “As the officers were trying to detain him, he spat directly in one of the officer’s face.” Police placed a spit mask on Kirkpatrick’s face as soon as he was handcuffed.

Kirkpatrick was charged with felony resisting arrest, felony assault on a police officer and felony bringing a controlled substance into a jail. Sgt. Kleiser said he had methamphetamine, which was found during his booking at the city jail.

Two arrested at campsite ended up in greater trouble

LBPD officers contacted Jose Enrique Faulmendoza, 57, no fixed address and Dawn Purdy Kuehl, 58, no fixed address at a campsite they shared near the animal shelter on Laguna Canyon Road at 7:28 Tuesday morning.

Kuehl initially gave a false name to the officers leading to an arrest for providing false information. She also had marijuana and methamphetamine among her belongings and was charged with misdemeanor possession of a controlled substance.

During her booking, another quantity of methamphetamine on her, which led to a felony bringing a controlled substance into a jail charge.

 Faulmendoza also gave a false ID to officers and was charged with providing false information. Wants and warrants were checked and he was held on a no bail warrant from Los Angeles.

Police Files

Capo Beach man arrested for robbery, 3 other felonies at Montage 

Montage Laguna Beach security saw two men attempting to break into vehicles in the valet lot at 6:19 Monday night. 

LBPD Sgt. Tim Kleiser said security was able to detain one man, Capistrano Beach resident Michael Velazquez, 21, on the resort property while the second suspect was last seen running across Coast Hwy toward Gelson’s Market. 

Velazquez struggled with the security officers in an unsuccessful attempt to get out of their custody as police responded. 

According to the police log, Montage security set up surveillance to watch store exits and entrances but the second suspect was never located.

Velazquez was detained and placed under arrest for a $2500 warrant out of Harbor Court for resisting arrest.

Police and Montage security reviewed surveillance tape of the two suspects breaking into vehicles and taking items and also saw that Velazquez attempted to steal at least one of the cars.

The result of those tapes led police to hold Velazquez on a charge of robbery with bail of $100,000 as well as attempted vehicle theft, burglary and felony threats to do harm to a potential witness.

Police Files

City Council gadfly and son arrested in alleged plot after the son threatened councilmembers and city manager

Police said that on Wednesday, Jan 4, city hall employees led department detectives to a Craigslist posting titled, “Going to Laguna Beach city council with My Gillie suit.”

Robert Mason Ross, 75, and Michael James Ross, 33, were arrested that night. The elder Ross is a recognizable city council gadfly who has made veiled and open threats against the city over the past several years. He threw his hat into the political ring in 2012 as a candidate for the council and received over 750 votes. 

A press release from LBPD this week added, “The posting contained five different photos of a man with an automatic rifle hiding in the brush while wearing a Ghillie suit (camouflage clothing). The posting by the author stated, ‘I am warning the city council that I am going to show up with my gillie [sic] suit, to remove these tyrants from office, in 2017.’ The post also stated, ‘Call the police and the city, council and tell them I am coming to end this corruption, from the Laguna Beach City Council, once and for all. Hahahahahaha, you are going down now.’”

A search warrant was secured and served on their Treetop Lane residence that night.

LBPD joined the OC Sheriff’s SWAT team and made their first knock at about midnight without the door opening. The SWAT team used “flash bang grenades” according to the police log and there were lights on inside the house at 12:17 a.m. for about six minutes. Police continued to announce their presence to no avail before making a final call out to the occupants and entered at 1:17 detaining both men.

The press release continued: “Inside the home, investigators located six rifles, a semi-automatic handgun, and over 100 boxes of ammunition.

“At the conclusion of the search warrant, investigators arrested Michael James Ross for Criminal Threats and Threats to Public Officials. His father, Robert Mason Ross was arrested for being a Convicted Felon in Possession of Firearms. 

Bail was set on Jan 6 at $250,000. Michael Ross posted bail and was released earlier this week. The elder Ross was still in county jail as of Tuesday night.

Woman injured in traffic crash had a surprise bindle in her bra  

A woman was slightly injured in a rollover traffic crash on S. Coast Hwy Tuesday afternoon. Paramedics transported her to Mission Hospital Laguna Beach for medical observation.

Two dogs inside the vehicle were also transported for observation by animal services officers.

At hospital, San Clemente resident Dellia Ledwidge, 53, was found to have a bindle of methamphetamine in her bra – and that led to her being charged with felony possession of a controlled substance for sales and felony transportation for sales.

Her bail was set at $25,000.

Reminder: DUI enforcement operations planned this weekend

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 on Saturday, Jan 14, between the hours of 8 p.m. and 3 a.m. in areas with high frequencies of DUI collisions and/or arrests.

In California, this deadly crime led to 1,155 deaths and nearly 24,000 injuries in 2014 because someone failed to designate a sober driver. Officers will be looking for signs of alcohol and/or drug impairment. When possible, specially trained officers will be available to evaluate those suspected of drug-impaired driving, which now accounts for a growing number of impaired driving crashes.

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

Photo by Dianne Russell

No, this is not the controversial tree in North Laguna

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

Laguna police pay attention to everyone who needs it 

Last Thursday evening at 20 minutes before six, a female caller from the alternative sleeping location on Laguna Canyon Road requested the assistance of officers. She said that she had been sexually assaulted.

LBPD Sgt. Tim Kleiser said, “Due to her intoxication level, the officer was unable to obtain a statement from her. The female caller was subsequently detained for public intoxication and was taken to the hospital by paramedics.”

Sgt. Kleiser told us that after she had been cleared at the hospital, the officer went there and spoke with the woman, who was not jailed.

“She told him she had been on an OCTD bus on Coast Hwy when a male had inappropriately touched her under her shirt.” 

The officer took the report and LBPD detectives will be investigating.

The homeless woman, age 20, has a history of alcohol abuse here.


Arrested man goes off at ER and tries to kick a cop

Derek Sean Acevedo, 46, no fixed address, was arrested for being drunk in public early last Thursday morning after he had walked into a downtown bar at last call, grabbed a half filled glass on the bar and downed it. He left in a hurry as the bartender called police and provided a description.

He was arrested a few minutes later on S. Coast Highway.

The city jailer took Acevedo to the emergency room at Mission Hospital. Once there, police said, Acevedo began a heated debate with hospital staff and urinated on the floor in his hospital room.

The jailer called for backup and once more officers had arrived, they approached Acevedo who began spitting on them and hospital staff. As officers attempted to restrain him, Acevedo kicked repeatedly at one of the officers and nearly connected with his face in the process.

Acevedo was charged with being drunk in public and misdemeanor assault on a police officer.

Police Files

Woman robbed walking home on Brooks Street Tuesday night 

A woman called police Wednesday morning to report that she had been strong-armed by an assailant who then robbed her taking her purse and cell phone.

 LBPD Sergeant Tim Kleiser told us, “She told officers that while she was walking home from a downtown bar at around 9:30 p.m. Tuesday on Brooks Street, someone had pushed her from behind, causing her to fall to the ground. The victim said her purse and cell phone were taken.” 

Sgt. Kleiser said she neither saw nor heard the assailant.

Anyone with information is encouraged to call LBPD at 497-0701.

Sunday morning rollover on Coast Highway

Click on photo for a larger image


Dennis Rooney

Dennis Rooney took this photo before police arrived on scene Sunday at 6:05 a.m. The Honda Pilot heading southbound in the 400 block of N. Coast Highway struck a parked car and rolled over. Police said the single occupant was uninjured and that no charges were pending. The cause is still being investigated, police said.

Police Files

Department of stupid criminals – don’t hold pot out of car window – especially when you have $35,000 worth in containers inside and there’s a cop car beside you

Two patrol officers were on S. Coast Hwy near Cress Street at four o’clock New Year’s Eve afternoon when they saw something very unusual. The passenger of a car next to them was leaning out of the window holding two bottles full of marijuana – one in each hand. The officers stopped them when they turned onto Agate Street.

LBPD booking photos

Brandon Herrera, 18 of Dana Point, the driver, and Austin Vernon, 18, Dublin, Ohio, were both immediately detained and the vehicle was searched.

LBPD Sgt. Tim Kleiser said Monday, that in addition to the two jars Vernon was holding out of the window, other bottles were located with a total weight of nearly 43 ounces.

A bag containing another 44 ounces was also located – 2,436 grams with a street value of $35,000…not exactly personal use.

Both were arrested for felony transportation of marijuana for sales.

Herrera was also charged with felony possession of concentrated cannabis and driving without a license, a misdemeanor.

For good measure, Herrera was held for a felony warrant out of Harbor Court with charges of – are you ready – possession of marijuana and transportation of marijuana for sales. He was held for a total bail of $50,000.

Man suffers major cut from New Year’s sucker punch

Police received two distressed emergency 9-1-1 calls at 2 a.m. New Year’s morning from a female caller who managed to get the point across that someone had been hurt when assaulted at S. Coast Hwy and St. Ann’s Drive.

Police and medics were dispatched.

On scene, it was learned that a man who was walking his female friend home had inadvertently bumped into someone while checking his cell phone.

He didn’t see it coming when he was struck on the side of his face causing a major cut over his left eye. Medics stabilized the man who then was transported to Mission Trauma Center in Mission Viejo in critical, but not life threatening, condition.

Sgt. Tim Kleiser said detectives are investigating the case.

Apparent vandalism at LBHS created a brief stir for authorities

Emergency dispatch received a call from an alarm company at 11:56 p.m. New Year’s Eve for the activation of both a fire and burglar alarm.

The alarm company said that an associated camera activation in the classroom involved – a chemistry lab – showed a white powder substance strewn about.

After several minutes of investigating, it was determined that someone had sprayed a fire extinguisher around an area of the lab.

Sgt. Tim Kleiser said, “Officers noticed that someone had gained access to the room through a window. No items have been reported missing from the classroom at this time.”

Later in the day, it was also learned that several lockers in the boy’s locker room had been opened and their contents were strewn across the floor area. There is no direct evidence that the two incidents are related.

Police Files

Two arrested after fighting cop downtown early Saturday morning

A man and woman were arrested after police responded to a reported melee at S. Coast Hwy and Forest Ave at 1:46 Saturday morning.

By the time the first patrol unit arrived on scene, the fight involved just two men. That officer managed to halt the fighters but when he attempted to detain one man, that one slugged the officer in the face and broke free.

Sgt. Tim Kleiser of the LBPD said Monday, “The man ran from the officer, but the officer was able to catch him and after another struggle a nearby Good Samaritan assisted the officer with handcuffing the suspect.”

Dennis Mondragon, 23 of Lake Forest, was arrested for misdemeanor assault on a police officer and felony resisting arrest.

LBPD booking photos

After other officers arrived, they learned that a female with Mondragon had fought with two bouncers at the White House a few minutes earlier. Courtney Ellis, 20, of Rancho Santa Margarita, was arrested for misdemeanor battery.

The officer who fought with Mondragon sustained cuts to his face and legs.

Police Files

Woman confronted a man getting into her car as she stood nearby – when she did, he swung a knife at her 

A woman called 9-1-1 from a driveway on Camel Point Drive at 3:53 Tuesday afternoon reporting that a man she didn’t know had swung a knife at her.

The caller said she had pulled into a friend’s driveway and had left her doors unlocked and the engine running while she talked with a friend about 25 feet away.

The woman told police that she had seen the man, later identified as Michael Cowan, 45, no fixed address, open a car door and begin to get inside.

LBPD Sgt. Tim Kleiser said Thursday, “The victim confronted the man and asked why he was going into the car. The man became upset and pulled out a folding knife from his waistband and swung it toward the victim. He had told the victim that he was a former Marine and military.”

The knife did not strike the woman. 

Officers did an area search located Cowan within five minutes at the Aliso Beach parking lot where he was arrested for felony assault with a deadly weapon. 

Pedestrian Safety Enforcement Operation on Tuesday 

The Laguna Beach Police Department will step up Pedestrian Safety Enforcement Operations on Dec 6, with focused enforcement on collision causing factors involving motorists and pedestrians. 

The department will be focusing on locations, since January 2012, where pedestrian involved accidents have occurred along with the violations that led to those crashes. Officers will be conducting directed enforcement at those locations looking for traffic offenses made by drivers and pedestrians alike that can lead to life-changing injuries. Special attention will be given to drivers speeding, making illegal turns, failing to stop for signs and signals, failing to yield to pedestrians in crosswalks or any other dangerous violation. 

Additionally, enforcement action will be taken against pedestrians committing violations such as crossing the street illegally or failing to yield to drivers who have the right of way. Pedestrians should cross the street only at marked crosswalks or at corners.

In 2013, California witnessed 701 pedestrian deaths accounting for over 23 percent of all roadway fatalities, much higher than the national average of 15 percent. A national study reveals that pedestrians and drivers do not obey laws and signals consistently, and many often use cell phones, text and listen to music while walking or driving. Only 60 percent of pedestrians said they expected drivers to stop when they were in crosswalks, even though they have the right-of way. 

The Laguna Beach Police Department would like to remind both drivers and pedestrians to be alert and share the roadway. Funding for this program is provided by a grant from the California Office of Traffic Safety through the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.

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

A strong-arm robbery was reported Friday – suspect was detained but no victim ever came forward

At 6:30 Friday night, a 9-1-1 caller reported that a man in tan pants and a gray hoodie had grabbed a boy – hit him – then forcefully took money from his hand then pushed him down.

The suspect took off running and police located him at Beach St and Ocean Ave a few minutes later. When they attempted to detain him, he punched an officer with a closed fist causing the officer’s eye to swell.

The original caller was located and he identified the man police had detained, Michael Garcia, 35, no fixed address, as the suspect.

Police were unable to locate the victim and no one came forward claiming to have been robbed by the suspect.

Garcia was arrested for battery on a police officer.

It took 10 minutes – but a cop eventually made tackle

A bouncer at Hennessey’s downtown flagged down a patrol car on Ocean Avenue at 10:48 p.m. Saturday and told the officer that a man who had been in a fight inside had just taken off on foot.

As officers patrolled the area, they had a couple of sightings of the suspect who managed to elude them until about 10 minutes later.

An officer was able to chase Patrick Francis Alsamarraie, 28 of Orangevale, to the 200 block of S. Coast Hwy where he tackled the suspect.

Alsamarraie was arrested for resisting/obstructing/delaying an officer and being drunk in public.

Police Files

Terry Thornsley, artist and sculptor, passes at 56

Prolific sculptor and artist Terry Thornsley was found dead in his studio/home on Laguna Canyon Road Tuesday morning according to Laguna Beach police.

Click on photo for a larger image

City of Laguna Beach photo


Public Art by Terry Thornsley

Thornsley is best known for his many public art installations including “Grace”, which is at the new Laguna Beach Lifeguard Headquarters at Main Beach.

He also installed the famous “Water Puppy” – a baby seal on the Festival of Arts grounds that is a favorite of children who visit the Festival and at Treasure Island Park where he did the “Trees with Birds” that many know. He did public art installations at Crescent Bay Park.


Terry Thornsley painting

Thornsley was an exhibitor at the Festival of Arts for nearly 30 years.

A concerned neighbor called police Tuesday morning after he had not seen the 56-year-old artist for several days.

The cause of death is unknown but police, who entered the studio/residence via a second floor window with a fire department ladder, said he had passed away a few days before Tuesday.

The OC Coroner has not released the results of an autopsy.

Police Files

Teenage girls rob woman on Anita St at knifepoint in broad daylight

Police said a woman walking alone in the 500 block of Anita Street Wednesday afternoon was robbed at knifepoint by teenage girls. 

Sgt. Tim Kleiser of the LBPD said police were not sure if two or three blonde haired teenage girls had approached the woman.

He said the victim called 9-1-1 within minutes of the robbery. “They drove past her on Anita Street as she walked toward the beach and stopped in front of her. The suspects approached her and demanded her purse and cell phone. She gave them $5 and they fled…”

Sgt. Kleiser said they were in a dark grey or black sedan or small SUV and were last seen westbound on Anita Street. The vehicle may have had out of state plates according to police who added that the driver appeared to be a male.

LBPD detectives are investigating the case.

Woman arrested after driving stolen car from the IE to visit the beach 

Police patrol units learned that a stolen white Saturn reported from Riverside had driven into Laguna Beach at the north City limits at 3:03 a.m. Tuesday morning. They searched for the car and located it parked in the 1000 block of Cliff Drive.

As officers watched the Saturn, other officers began an area search nearby, Sgt. Tim Kleiser indicated. They encountered a woman at Shaw’s Cove beach who denied knowledge of the car.

At 5 a.m., they saw her nearby the parked Saturn and questioned her once more. Her answers led them to a search and the keys to the stolen vehicle were discovered.

Tamra Trueblood, 43, from Murrieta in Riverside County, was arrested at 5:15 a.m. and charged with felony vehicle theft.

Police Files

Man arrested inside women’s room taking pictures

Jonathan Celis-Sorrosa, 25, of Santa Ana, was arrested for invasion of privacy with a camera and resisting arrest early Sunday morning at the White House.

Police were called after a woman told a security guard that a man had taken photos of her while she was inside a stall of the women’s restroom.

Police responded at 1:51 a.m. and found Celis-Sorrosa still in the restroom and escorted him outside.

Sgt. Tim Kleiser of the LBPD said, “He attempted to pull away several times from the officers and after a brief struggle, was placed in handcuffs.”

No further details were available.   

Two stolen cars led to numerous charges and three in custody

LBPD patrol officers successfully stopped two stolen cars on Laguna streets on Thursday and Sunday resulting in three suspects being arrested on felony charges.

Early Sunday morning, a 2016 Nissan Sentra that had been reported stolen in Anaheim on Friday was stopped at S. Coast Hwy and Legion Street.

After clearing the car at gunpoint at 4:49 a.m., officers found burglary tools on board and arrested the two men who had been in the car.

Michael Moran, 27, Santa Ana, was charged with felony vehicle theft, possession of stolen property and possession of burglary tools. Nestor Garcia, 28, also from Santa Ana, was arrested for the same charges plus false ID to a police officer and driving on a suspended/revoked license.

On Thursday at 1:14 a.m., police stopped a red Honda CRV in the 600 block of Laguna Canyon Road. It had been stolen in Bishop on Wednesday.

LBPD Sgt. Tim Kleiser said Monday, “During a search of the vehicle, officers located a methamphetamine pipe and methamphetamine.”

Seattle, WA resident Anthony Wendell Evans, 37, was arrested on charges of felony vehicle theft and possession of a controlled substance.

Laguna resident defrauded by IRS phone scammers

The FBI made a national announcement last Thursday about a phone scam that was being reported all over the country.

That same afternoon, LBPD learned from a North Laguna resident that scammers claiming to be IRS agents had instructed that two Apple gift cards be purchased in the total amount of $800 to satisfy a tax debt.

The victim complied and gave the caller the card numbers and lost $800.

One sure thing, cops will be out in droves on Cinco de Mayo

Fiesta time or jail time?

If you are planning to party this Cinco de Mayo, keep this number in mind: 343 people were killed in motor vehicle crashes over the Cinco de Mayo holiday weekend in 2014. Of those 343 people who lost their lives, 34 percent (116) died in drunk-driving crashes. And the drivers in those crashes weren’t just a little drunk. Sadly, almost one out of five (17 percent) of all the drivers in fatal crashes that weekend had blood alcohol concentrations (BACs) of .15 percent or higher – almost twice the legal limit in every state.

Everyone should be mindful also that if you’re taking medication – whether prescription or over-the-counter – drinking even small amounts of alcohol can greatly intensify the level of impairment.

LBPD will have additional patrol units all over town looking for impaired drivers this Thursday evening with the goal of lowering the number of deaths and injuries.

Police Files

Laguna man, 26, arrested for felon with a gun while he was arrested for stealing a car on Laguna Canyon Rd

A Laguna Beach man, 26, was arrested last Wednesday afternoon for felony vehicle theft and felon in possession of a gun after he was detained about a block away from where a 2006 Mazda SUV had been reported stolen about three hours earlier in the 21000 block of Laguna Canyon Road.

LBPD Sgt. Tim Kleiser said Michael Matekel was observed in the area of the stolen Mazda after a patrol officer had found it in the 20400 block of Sun Valley. 

“The officer watched it from a distance. While the officer was there, a man approached the patrol car from the rear. The officer exited the patrol car and saw a wooden handle of a pistol sticking out of one of his pockets.”

Matekel also had the keys to the stolen Mazda in his possession along with the .22 caliber pistol.

Detectives nab two Inland Empire women trying for a $20K fraud

A plastic surgery center reported earlier in the month that a woman had paid for over $4,500 in surgery after submitting a fraudulent credit application.

LBPD Sgt. Tim Kleiser explained that a detective followed up on the report and while investigating the original fraud, discovered that two other women had pulled off the same type of fraud.

“Those two were approved for their surgery costs after filing the fraudulent application and had charged a total of $20,400 in deposits with the financing firm,” Sgt. Kleiser said.

The two women, both from Moreno Valley, had set appointments for their initial surgical consultation for this coming week, which they cancelled.

Both women, Donicka Baker, 39 and Makeida Blackman, 27, drove to the surgery center last week and attempted to have their deposit amounts returned and credited to their actual credit cards.

They were detained by detectives and arrested on felony charges of grand theft, ID theft, impersonating another person to obtain credit, and obtaining money under false pretenses.

Police Files

Five 40-yr-old eucalyptus trees cut at base of trunks in front of Montage Resort – arborist not sure if they will survive  

Click on photo for a larger image

Photo by Scott Brashier

Two of five 40-year-old eucalyptus trees cut in front of Montage Laguna Beach

Police said that Montage Laguna Beach staff estimates the value of replacing five tall eucalyptus trees cut at the base of their trunks overnight Sunday to be between $400,000 and $500,000.

The cuts were discovered and reported to the LBPD Monday morning. 

Sgt. Tim Kleiser told us, “An arborist advised it would take approximately four to six weeks to determine if the trees would recover from the damage and estimated the trees were 40-45 years old. The case has been assigned to detectives.”

Police Files

Two men, woman, arrested for strong-armed robbery

Officers were called to the parking lot at Mission Hospital just after 6 o’clock last Tuesday night for a report of a robbery.

Sgt. Tim Heisler of the LBPD said the victim called 9-1-1 and told officers when they arrived on scene that he “…was walking in the parking lot and two males exited a Ford Mustang and called him a narc and snitch. The two males then struck the RP several times and took his wallet and fled in the Ford. The victim sustained swelling to his left eye and complained of pain to his head. He was taken to the hospital for his injuries.”

LBPD stopped the Mustang heading northbound on Coast Hwy near Wesley Drive. There were two male passengers and a female driver, police said.

Sgt. Kleiser said the four people knew each other and there had been contact between them a few days before the incident.

 Derek Schmalle, 21, and Timothy Solomon, 28, both from San Clemente, and Shanoa Mitchell, 27 of Capistrano Beach, were all arrested for felony robbery and felony conspiracy and held on $100,000 bail each.

Man with two dogs struck on S. Coast Hwy – one dog was killed

A man walking across S. Coast Hwy at Brooks Street with two dogs in a crosswalk was struck by a vehicle heading northbound. Police said the Laguna Beach man, 45, was crossing Coast Hwy toward the inland side when the collision occurred.

He was hospitalized with a broken leg, police said. One of the dogs died at the scene as a result of the collision and the other was injured.

Police said it did not appear that ether alcohol or drugs were a factor and the driver was not arrested on scene. 

The investigation has not been completed. 

Another eucalyptus cut – across from Montage Laguna Beach

Another eucalyptus tree was cut at the base apparently overnight Friday. It was in the parking lot almost directly across Coast Hwy from where the trees with the same cuts were discovered on Montage Laguna Beach property.

Montage told police that an arborist was uncertain about the ability of their trees to survive the cutting. An arborist will look at the tree in the parking lot in the 30800 block this week.

No further details were available.

LBPD advises that imposters are out with the SCE scam again

Southern California Edison (SCE) is advising customers to be aware of a new telephone scam that is demanding immediate payment for allegedly past due electricity bills. Imposters have been calling SCE customers stating they must make immediate payment on past due bills or their electric service will be disconnected. The callers are also demanding payment be made through a prepaid cash card, such as a PayPal or Green Dot card.

“We ask our customers to be alert to these calls that demand immediate payment and threaten service disconnection,” said Henry Martinez, SCE vice president of Safety, Security & Compliance. “Customers suspecting a fraudulent call should ask for the caller’s name, department and business phone number. If the caller refuses to provide this information, customers should terminate the call and report the incident immediately to local police at 497-0701 or SCE at 800-655-4555.”

SCE also reminds customers to ask for identification when a stranger comes to the door or calls claiming to be a utility worker. SCE utility workers will provide verification, including their department and phone number, when asked. In most cases, home visits by SCE are scheduled by the customer and SCE will confirm the appointment in writing. If there are any concerns, SCE and law enforcement officials suggest having the utility worker wait outside until their identity can be verified.

SCE customers should also note that an SCE employee will never ask for money in person;never reveal your credit card, ATM or calling card numbers (or PIN numbers) to anyone.

If someone calls and requests you leave your residence at a specific time for a utility-related cause, call the police. This could be a burglary set up by the caller. Be suspicious of anyone who arrives at your house without an appointment asking to check an appliance, wiring, or suggesting that there may be some other electrical problem inside your residence.

For more ways customers can stay safe, please see www.sce.com/safety and read the safety tips section.

Police Files

Police arrest driver in Friday felony hit & run Saturday morning

Photo by Mark Nelson

This Chevrolet SUV was hit head on in a hit and run crash Friday afternoon

Police and fire responded to a head on traffic crash an N. Coast Hwy and Beverly Street at 3:32 Friday afternoon. A 17-year-old girl from Rancho Santa Margarita sustained minor injuries and was taken to hospital according to LBPD Sgt. Tim Kleiser.

On scene, it was learned that a Jeep SUV had left the scene. That vehicle was found parked on Hillcrest Drive shortly after the crash.

Photo by Christopher Kling

The suspect vehicle on Hillcrest Friday

Suzanna Olson, 54, of Laguna Beach, the registered owner of the suspect vehicle, was arrested at her home on Cliff Drive ay 9:48 Saturday morning. She was charged with felony hit and run with bail set at $50,000.

Police Files

Suspect fled police – careened off 11 cars on Coast Hwy

On Saturday, Laguna police investigated a report of credit card fraud reported by an out of state cardholder who told them about $1,000 had been charged at a North Laguna hotel. The victim said he had spoken with the front desk and was told that the person who had charged the room was there now.

Officers spoke with the front desk and knocked on the door at about 12:45. Four people inside ran out of the room onto the second floor balcony when the saw the cops. Two were detained and two others, a man and a woman, jumped to the ground, Sgt. Tim Kleiser said Monday. They managed to get away as the officers dealt with the two who had been detained on the balcony.

He added, “A male and female were detained in the room and the female, Lauren Rivero, 20, from Anaheim, had an outstanding $3,000 warrant for theft from Los Angeles. She was arrested for the warrant.”

As the officers were leaving the hotel at about 2:09 p.m., a hotel employee told them that the woman who had rented the room was in a tan SUV outside. Officers, on foot, managed to get to her before she drove away only to have her take off.

An area search was launched in North Laguna and a patrol unit spotted the tan Cadillac Escalade heading south on Coast Highway near Aster Street.

Sgt. Kleiser provided the following: 

Click on photo for a larger image

Photo by Dennis Rooney

This is one of the first five vehicles struck north of Broadway by the Cadillac Escalade Saturday afternoon. Note the wheel in the foreground, which fell off the Escalade. The driver continued on Coast Hwy before turning onto Park Ave after crashing into five more vehicles traveling in both directions on Coast Hwy.

“The officers attempted to stop the SUV, but it immediately drove over into the opposing lanes of traffic and collided with two vehicles in the 300 block of N. Coast Highway. The Escalade continued south on Coast Highway and struck three more vehicles north of Broadway in heavy traffic. Two people, an adult female and female child, complained of pain as a result of that collision. 

“The Escalade continued south and collided with five other vehicles in the 100 and 200 blocks of South Coast Highway. She then turned east on the 200 block of Park Avenue and struck a parked vehicle there. The car finally stopped in the library parking lot after it ran into a cement pillar. 

Click on photo for a larger image

Photo by Dennis Rooney

Photo by Kelly Viszolay

“The driver fled on foot and was not located. Two passengers in the car were detained and later released.” 

Detectives are working on identifying and locating the driver.

We hope to have added details in our Friday edition.   

Body discovered on Heisler walkway Sunday morning

A person walking in Heisler Park at 6:21 Sunday morning called 9-1-1 reporting that a man was lying on the walkway near the picnic tables.

Police and fire units responded and discovered that a man was deceased from an apparent self-inflicted gunshot wound.

The OC Coroner will perform and autopsy and release the man’s name later this week.

Sgt. Tim Kleiser of the LBPD said the man was 78 and a Laguna Beach resident. 

Stolen Mountain Bike – Value: $10,000

Click on photo for a larger image


On November 23, 2013, the victim left the bicycle above in the bed of his pickup truck parked in the underground lot of Inn at Laguna in the 200 block of N. Coast Hwy.

The bicycle is a Scott Carbon Fiber custom build mountain bike, and all paint and decals are custom. The bicycle is valued at $10,000.

If you have information, contact LBPD Detective Matt Meadows, (949) 497-0758

Police Files

Man arrested in men’s room after pulling a knife on another man

Chad Garcia, 30, Garden Grove, was arrested for assault with a deadly weapon just after midnight Friday after brandishing a knife and threatening another man.

A security guard was also in the Marine Room men’s room at the time and heard the threats. The guard escorted Garcia outside where they awaited the arrival of Laguna Beach Police officers.

Garcia was taken into custody for the felony charge without incident according to LBPD Sgt. Tim Kleiser. 

Bail was set at $25,000. 

Hacienda Heights man arrested after trying to smash store window

Police responded to the 300 block of Forest Avenue at 11:35 p.m. Saturday after a man was seen trying to smash the window of a store with a rock.

Jake Tineo, 20, of Hacienda Heights was detained while still in front of the store window when officers arrived on scene. The witness who had called 9-1-1 verified that the cops had their man.

Sgt. Tim Kleiser said Monday, “The window at the business had marks on it from a rock that the male was using to try and break it. They also saw that a nearby mailbox was opened and mail was scattered on the ground. Some of the mail had been opened.”

Tineo was arrested for felony attempted burglary and misdemeanor mail theft.

He was booked here and taken to county jail with bail of $20,000.

Police Files

Murder conviction overturned in 2009 beating death of Damon Nicholson in his North Laguna apartment

Damon Nicholson was murdered with a baseball bat in his Dolphin Way apartment in October 2009. At the time, the 40-year-old man was the banquet manager at Hotel Laguna and well known around town.

After an investigation, Laguna Beach Police detectives arrested two Lake Forest men, Matthew Dragna and Jacob Quintanilla, both 19, for Nicholson’s murder. Both men had gone to the Dolphin Way residence to have sex with Nicholson.

Dragna had been there on more than one occasion and court records show that he invited Quintanilla to the location on the night of the murder.

Dragna and Quintanilla were convicted of the murder in separate jury trials with Dragna convicted in December 2013 and later sentenced to life in prison without the possibility of parole.

Last week, a three-judge panel of the Fourth District Court of Appeals reversed that conviction finding that Laguna Beach detectives had continued to question Dragna after he had invoked a request for an attorney. That, the court ruled, was a violation of Dragna’s rights under Miranda v. Arizona. That ruling removed the evidence that had been obtained during the questioning.

California’s Attorney General’s office acknowledged that the detectives made the error but argued that there was other independent evidence sufficient to convict Dragna. That evidence included DNA. 

The Orange County DA is expected to file charges for a new trial but have made no announcement.

A spokesperson for the Laguna Beach PD said they have no comment at this time.   


New “Coast to Coast” seat belt enforcement effort starts May 23 and aims to increase Click It or Ticket participation, save lives 

From May 23 to June 5, local law enforcement personnel will participate in the national Click It or Ticket campaign in an effort to save lives through increased seat belt use. This education enforcement period comes ahead of the Memorial Day holiday, one of the busiest travel weekends of the year. 

According to research conducted by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, while 88.5 percent of passenger vehicle occupants buckled up in 2015, almost 50 percent of occupants of fatal crashes nationwide are not restrained. In some states, the rate is as high as 70 percent unrestrained in fatal crashes. In California, more than a half million people travel our roadways at grave risk without proper restraints. These facts highlight the need for increased education, awareness, and enforcement of seat belt use. Law enforcement agencies statewide are joining the Click It or Ticket effort to emphasize the “Coast to Coast” seat belt safety awareness campaign in all 50 states. 

“As law enforcement, we have a special role in helping protect the safety of our citizens,” said Lt. Jeff Calvert. “Time after time, we see the deadly results that come from drivers and passengers refusing to wear a seat belt. Wearing a seat belt is one of the most important steps in increasing survivability in a crash. Our job is to stop those who are not buckled up, and to keep them from repeating this potentially deadly mistake.” 

In 2014, nearly half of the 21,022 passenger vehicle occupants killed in crashes nationally were unrestrained, according to NHTSA. During the nighttime hours of 6 p.m. to 5:59 a.m., that number increased to 57 percent of those killed. 

“Hundreds of thousands of citizens will be traveling this Memorial Day weekend, as well as throughout the summer vacation season. We want to make sure that people are buckling up to keep themselves and their families safe. It is the greatest defense in a vehicle crash,” said Rhonda Craft, Director of the California Office of Traffic Safety. 

For more info on the Click It or Ticket campaign, visit http://www.nhtsa.gov/ciot

Police Files

Two men and a woman arrested on total of 19 charges including stealing a vehicle 

A car stop on Goff St at a quarter before midnight last Saturday turned out to be a lot more than the vehicle code violation that attracted an officer’s initial attention.

Vanessa Wilson, 24, Colton, Justin Kimbro, 25, San Bernardino and Anthony Flores, 22, also from San Bernardino, were arrested for 19 charges.

Officers learned post haste that the vehicle had been reported stolen on Friday in Riverside and began treating the incident as a crime scene.

Wilson and Kimbro were both charged with felony vehicle theft and possession of a controlled substance when methamphetamine was located. Wilson also was charged with possession of unspecified stolen property. Flores was held for the meth charge.

In addition to the fresh charges above, all three had warrants.

Wilson had eight outstanding warrants including a no bail warrant out of Pasadena for two counts of ID theft. The other seven were from San Bernardino containing charges of grand theft, drug possession, shoplifting and possession of stolen property. The total bail on those warrants was $105,000.

Flores had warrants with charges of drug possession and shoplifting. His total bail was set at $50,000.

Kimbro had three San Bernardino warrants, each with two charges: one for grand theft and possession of stolen property, one for grand theft and petty theft and the third for being under the influence of a controlled substance and utility theft. Total bail: $70K.

All three were booked here and taken to county jail.

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 Department Memorial Fundraiser January 27

“With the assistance of members from the Laguna Beach Firefighters Association, City Arts Commission and several residents in town, the Laguna Beach Police Employees’ Association (LBPEA) is now seeking community support in getting a permanent monument installed in front of our Police Department,” said LBPEA President Larry Bammer.

The memorial monument will be dedicated in the memory of the two officers who lost their lives in the line of duty protecting our city – Gordon French and Jon Coutchie.

“With the assistance of members from the Laguna Beach Firefighters Association, City Arts Commission and residents in town, the Police Employees’ Association is now seeking your support in getting a permanent monument installed in front of our Police Department.

A fundraiser, with a goal of $40,000, has been planned for Jan 27 from 5:30 – 9 p.m. at Mare Culinary Lounge. Mare is located at the intersection of S. Coast Highway and Cleo Street where Jon Coutchie’s fatal accident occurred on September 21, 2013 and where a makeshift memorial remains.

The no-host bar and silent auction will be from 5:30 – 7 p.m. with a buffet dinner served at 7 p.m.

Officer Bammer said this week, “We are getting some great auction items already from the owner of Mare, Montage Laguna Beach and Fletcher Jones Mercedes.

“To raise the funds we have partnered with the Laguna Beach Community Foundation, a 501(c)(3), to receive donations.  The Laguna Beach Police Officer Memorial Artwork Advisory Committee includes City Treasurer Laura Parisi (LB resident and Rotarian), LBPD Lieutenant (and Jon’s close friend) Jeff Calvert and myself.

“We have established that we need to raise $40,000 to get the project built. Thank you to Allesandro and Mare Culinary Lounge for offering this venue as the first event to raise the funds to move forward with this art installation.”

Bammer went on to say a charitable fund, the Laguna Beach Police Office Memorial Artwork Fund, has been established at the Laguna Beach Community Foundation to collect tax-deductible donations for the project. 75% of each ticket sold will go directly toward the Fund for the Memorial’s development, site preparation and installation. Please provide your name and address so that the Laguna Beach Community Foundation can send you a thank you for your $75 tax-deductible donation.

If you are unable to attend the event but wish to donate you can forward your donations to the Laguna Beach Community Foundation at PO Box 1628, Laguna Beach, CA. 92652. Checks can be made to “LBCF-LB Police Officer Memorial Artwork Fund”. The Laguna Beach Community Foundation is a 501(c)(3) organization, Tax ID #20-6390272.

To purchase tickets go to: http://lbpoliceofficermemorialfundraiser.eventbrite.com

Police Files

Weaving crimes together never ends up as a good thing

Sometimes, people create what police call a cluster @#&} while trying to score big on a crime spree. We have two of those to report today – one that happened way back in March and the other this past Monday and Tuesday. We promise there won’t be a quiz after you read these…

A reader sent us this photo in March

Click on photo for a larger image

Photo by Jeff Greenough

A woman was arrested on Jasmine Street

An alert officer’s attention was drawn to suspicious occupants, a man and a woman, of a car when the officer saw the man walk away from a parked car near Cypress on Jasmine Street in North Laguna back in March. When the officer spoke to the man, Jason Sacdalan, 45, Costa Mesa, he admitted going into the parked car but hadn’t taken anything.

Sacdalan had been in a car driven by Emily Blaney, 20, of Huntington Beach, which was parked on Jasmine.

Meanwhile, another officer was taking a report on High Drive and Poplar Street for items taken from a vehicle. That officer recognized the description of the car stopped on Jasmine as the same as had been given by the victim on High Drive.

It was also at about that time that the officer on Jasmine arrested Sacdalan for two West Court warrants for drug possession with $20,000 bail.

The officer from the High Drive report assisted in a search of the car that Blaney and Sacdalan had driven, which, it turned out, was also a stolen car.

Property stolen on High Drive was inside the stolen car as was a considerable amount of other property that may have been stolen. Even now, all of it has not been accounted for, which is why we didn’t have the details to write this…before…

When the officers who responded to the scene turned their attention toward Blaney, they soon determined that she was a 10:30 in the morning drunk driver. 

Once sorted through, Blaney was charged with felony auto theft, DUI, and possession of stolen property.

Sacdalan was held for the two warrants, false information to a police officer, felony auto theft, possession of stolen property, misdemeanor possession of drugs and drug paraphernalia. 

Earlier this week…

An officer took a simple shoplifting report at Montage Laguna Beach early Monday evening for a purse valued at $488. Security told police that the suspect had been seen taking the purse by a witness before he drove off.

On Tuesday morning at 10:37, an officer responded to Urth Caffe on N. Coast Hwy about a suspicious man who matched the description Montage security had for the suspect from Monday.

When the man was contacted, according to Sgt. Tim Kleiser of the LBPD, “He was standing near a vehicle on Coast Highway in front of the restaurant with a purse that matched the description of the one stolen at Montage. The purse was later confirmed to be the one taken and the man was also identified as the person who took it.”

For good measure, the vehicle the man had driven off from Montage in and he had parked on Coast Highway was a stolen car form LA County.

Lebarr Darell Littlejohn, 34, Imperial Beach, was arrested for felony vehicle theft, possession of stolen property and shoplifting.

Police Files

Man arrested at Mission Hospital after OC Sheriff’s deputies had dropped him off there for detox

While details are sparse, according to Sgt. Tim Kleiser of the LBPD, a Dana Point man, Ian Keegan, 54, who was on formal parole was arrested last Wednesday night outside of Mission Hospital, Laguna Beach after deputies from the OC Sheriff’s Dept. had earlier dropped him off to detox.

Sgt. Kleiser said Monday that the police report had not been completed and that he had no details as to the Sheriff’s deputies.

The police log said that the caller who reported the incident had said that a man who had been dropped off at Mission by OC Sheriff’s deputies was, from the log, “…walking around with a bottle of vodka and got in an SUV to leave…”

Officers stopped Keegan and after an investigation, arrested him for DUI, driving on a suspended or revoked license due to a DUI conviction and driving on a suspended or revoked license due to a DUI conviction without an interlocking device.

After contacting Keegan’s parole officer, he was ordered to be held without bail for violation of his formal parole conditions. He was transported to Santa Ana for Department of Corrections pick up there.

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

Golf cart driver gets third DUI after fender bender

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

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

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


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

Police Files

Two little old ladies told one story – the store’s video told another

Police said a clerk at a boutique in the 200 block of Forest Ave reported Monday afternoon that as she was assisting two elderly women with a potential jewelry purchase when she noticed one of the women appear to be attempting to place a necklace in her purse. When she confronted the women they left the store.

She described the two ladies as being quite thin with “…lots of plastic surgery.”

The clerk followed the subjects and called police.

Police found them in the alleyway behind the church on Second Street.

LBPD Sgt. Louise Callus said in an email, “They had a completely different story. They were interviewed and released. A subsequent review of the security video from the store seems to indicate they may have attempted to steal the necklace.”

The store could not sign a citizen’s arrest because nothing was stolen.


Hotel guest checked out with more than stolen towels

A North Laguna hotel guest paid his bill and checked out on time Tuesday.

When housekeeping went into the room to clean, they ‘noticed’ that everything that ought to have been there wasn’t.

Management took an inventory and called police.

LBPD Sgt. Louise Callus provided a list of the stolen items that matches the words management gave when calling the station: “It was pretty much everything that wasn’t bolted down…”

Sgt. Callus said, “The suspect stole a TV, food items from the refrigerator, ice bucket with tray, king size duvet, comforter, feather pillow, coffee maker, bathroom set, storage trays, hair dryer, two bathrobes and miscellaneous towels.

“The estimated total value of stolen items was…$1412.”

Police Files

Two different drunk drivers were more than just DUI

Julie Sabol, 54, Fullerton, was arrested for drunk driving and misdemeanor battery on a police officer Saturday afternoon. A cell caller reported that a woman driver was swerving, stopping in the roadway and that she had hit a parker car, according to Sgt. Tim Kleiser of the LBPD. She was heading into town on N. Coast Hwy.

A patrol unit saw the car the caller had described in the Shell gas station and made contact with Sabol.

After she exited the car and was being interviewed by the officer, she kicked him.

She was placed under arrest.

At 1:20 a.m. Saturday, a cell caller reported that a car had struck a metal dumpster and a parked car, totaling the car in the 3000 block of Laguna Canyon Road.

Sgt. Kleiser said that when an officer arrived on scene, “…he saw two males walking away from the collision and detained them. The driver, 25-year-old Mamerton Gomez-Juarez from Lake Forest was arrested for misdemeanor evading, DUI with a prior, driving with a suspended license, and resisting arrest. He also had an outstanding $15,000 warrant. 

The passenger, Eliseo Lopez, 22, from Lake Forest, was arrested for resisting arrest.

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

Shipwrecked in Laguna

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

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

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

Click on photo for a larger image

Photo by Valerie Sokola

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

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

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

Click on photo for a larger image

Photo by Tracy Newton

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

The boat was removed Wednesday morning. 

Yoga locker burglar and credit card thief pleads guilty

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

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

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

Photo courtesy LBPD

Douglas Schlichting

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

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

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

Man bites officer, gets arrested

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

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

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

LBPD Booking Photo

Joshua Szalanczy

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

Police Files

$10,000 bike stolen out of open pickup truck bed

Police received a call at about 20 minutes before midnight Saturday reporting the theft of a bicycle valued at $10,000 in the 200 block of N. Coast Hwy. The owner described it as a black Scott carbon fiber with blue decals and blue wheels.

The stolen Scott carbon fiber was similar to this one – but a different color

Police said the owner had placed the bicycle – unlocked – in the bed of a pickup truck in the downtown area at night.


More smoke than fire on S. Coast Hwy Sunday afternoon

Four Laguna engines, a ladder truck from Orange County Fire Authority, a chief officer and an ambulance responded to the 2500 block of S. Coast Hwy at 1:01 p.m. Sunday where it was reported that smoke was coming through the roof of a structure.

The first engine on scene reported there was a multi-level residential home with smoke visible.

The fire department said the size of the home and the complexity of its layout made it difficult to locate the origin of the smoke. After some time, an unattended log in a fireplace was located and it was determined that the heavy smoke had come from that source.

Holes had to be cut into the roof in order to ventilate the residence and remove the smoke as firefighters continued searching for any other source of smoke or active fire.

Although the fire department didn’t say so in this incidence, it is not unusual for a smoldering log to create considerable smoke in a closed room with the fireplace flue closed.

No one was injured.

A county engine company and a medic unit from Newport Beach responded to the city for coverage during the incident.

Police Files

The details of what happened at Cress Street Friday

Click on photo for a larger image

Photo by Chris Tomlin

The OC Sheriff’s SWAT Team rescue vehicle at Cress Street Friday

The following is a statement from the La Casa Del Camino Hotel and has been verified through the LBPD by Stu News Laguna as being accurate.

Around 6:45 a.m., several guests reported a perfume-like odor and complained of itchy eyes and sore throats. As a precaution, a member of hotel staff phoned the Laguna Beach Fire Department. 

Firefighters arrived promptly on the scene and began conducting voluntary evacuations as a precaution. Police were requested by the LBFD at 7:15.  

Avila’s El Ranchito and the Surf and Sand Resort stepped in to lend a hand. Michael Avila assured La Casa Del Camino they could move their guests over to El Ranchito even though they weren’t even open yet. The Surf and Sand generously offered a room for the overflow as well.

During these evacuations, a guest on the third floor who appeared to have a negative reaction to the smell, refused to evacuate his room. 

Around 7:30 a.m., the Orange County Sheriff’s Department Bomb Squad and SWAT team, along with the Orange County Fire Authority’s Hazmat unit were called to the hotel in order to investigate the suspicious circumstances and identify the source of the smell. The scene was immediately contained and no threat was present to the Laguna Beach Community. 

“The SWAT team went into the room [at 2:30]. We did not locate the individual. We did not see anything suspicious,” said Laguna Beach Police Department Emergency Operation Coordinator Jordan Villwock. “It’s believed that the subject possibly left before our arrival this morning.” 

After a thorough search of the establishment, no threat was found. The smell was caused by a bottle of cologne being left unattended on a heater. 

Despite complaints of feeling ill, no hotel guests have been hospitalized or reported any injures due to these events. 

“This is a good exercise for us to go through as hoteliers,” said owner Chris Keller. “The Fire Department and the Police Department have been outstanding. Our guests are really amazing and understanding. This is how a community comes together.”

La Casa Del Camino and its restaurant concepts reopened at 4 o’clock and guests were allowed to return to their rooms. 

Details & update on the Arch Beach Heights house fire

Click on photo for a larger image

Photo by Christina Shook

The home that burned on La Mirada Street Thursday night (and reported in our Friday edition) was completely destroyed according to the Laguna Beach Fire Department. Two firefighters were treated at the scene for minor injuries.

LB Fire Chief Jeff LaTendresse said there were two unusual circumstances about the call that came in just after six o’clock. “Our dispatchers had just received a call about multiple fire alarms in a multi-unit building on S. Coast Highway and a full structure response was dispatched.

“As those units were responding, the La Mirada Street calls came in and it was quickly apparent that we had the probability of a fire there.”

A second structure response was dispatched meaning eight fire engines and three ladder trucks were responding to calls in Laguna Beach at the same time.

Chief LaTendresse redirected the first response apparatus, which included all four Laguna Beach engines, from the alarm call to Arch Beach Heights. 

The call on S. Coast Highway turned out to be a false alarm.

Chief LaTendresse then explained the second unusual circumstance. “The lower levels of the home on La Mirada Street were fully involved almost immediately; probably at the same time the home’s fire alarms went off.

“Our engines could see the flash [of massive flames] quickly as they were responding and we were able to call it a working fire Justas quickly. That meant a second alarm and because of the false alarm call downtown, the second alarm response was already en route.”

Eight fire engines and three ladder trucks were in Arch Beach Heights within minutes of the call and that made a big difference in keeping the massive flames from spreading to any neighboring residences.

There were two people in the residence at the time of the fire. Chief LaTendresse said they were able to get outside quickly. “One of the women decided to go back inside in an attempt to save her pet birds. A neighbor saw that and followed her to extoll that she needed to leave, which she said she was doing because there was too much smoke for her to stay. She did not require any assistance for smoke inhalation.”

The three pet birds perished in the flames. 

The cause of the fire is still being determined.

For the record – police will be looking closely for drunk drivers who over-celebrated St. Patrick’s Day 

Laguna Beach Police will have beefed up DUI saturation units on the streets of town Thursday night – St. Patrick’s Day.

Don’t drink and drive and if you see a suspected impaired driver, don’t hesitate – call 9-1-1 immediately.

Police Files

Intoxicated woman, 27, grabbed officer’s wrist trying to pull him down

Officers made contact with two women and a man on Crescent Bay Beach at 9:33 last Friday night after seeing them with a bottle of vodka.

While the officers were speaking to the trio, one of the women, 27-year-old Franchesca Jennie Anderson of Alhambra, who appeared to be intoxicated to the officers, began filming them and soon began placing the camera within inches of one officer’s face.

Sgt. Tim Kleiser of the LBPD said, “The officer backed up a number of times to avoid having the camera in his face and told her not to do it any longer. When she refused his direction to keep the camera a reasonable distance from his face, the officer reached out to take the camera and hand it to the woman’s husband.’

Sgt. Kleiser added, “Anderson grabbed the officer’s wrist and attempted to pull him to the ground. More officers arrived to assist and arrested her.”

Anderson was arrested for battery on a peace officer and for being drunk in public.

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

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

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

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

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.

LBHS Schedules



Friday, March 3

Boys Volleyball

@ Edison – 5:45 p.m.


Saturday, March 4

Girls Softball

@ Rialto – 10 a.m.

Boys Baseball

Valencia – 11 a.m.


Shaena Stabler is the Owner, Publisher & Editor.

Lynette Brasfield is our Features Editor.

Dianne Russell is our Associate Editor.

Maggi Henrikson is our Contributing Editor.

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Alexis Amaradio, Barbara Diamond, Cameron Gillespie, Dennis McTighe, Diane Armitage, Laura Buckle, Marrie Stone, Samantha Washer and Suzie Harrison are staff writers and/or columnists.

Mary Hurlbut and Scott Brashier are the staff photographers.

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