Police are appealing to the public for help in catching thieves who plundered nearly a dozen vehicles and a jewelry store in a crime spree that began Tuesday, Feb. 29, and continued into the early hours of Wednesday, March 1.
On Tuesday, police released the photo of a suspect in an earlier theft of a $806 bracelet from the Kokopelli Gallery, which was also hit last week by window-smashing thieves around the same time as the rash of car break-ins.
“We do not know if the two crimes are related,” said Lt. Jason Kravetz, who appealed for the public’s help in identifying the person in the surveillance tape. He is described as a Caucasian male in his 50s, balding, who spoke with a soft tone and claimed to be from La Jolla. Video footage can be seen here. “At this time, we only seek his identity to question him about the theft of the bracelet.”
The car break-ins occurred from north to south, off streets along Coast Highway. “All residents are being warned to lock their vehicles and be on the lookout for suspicious activity in the early morning hours between midnight and 6 a.m.,” Kravetz said in a statement. “Anyone else who sees individuals acting suspicious during these early morning hours are urged to call the police department at 911,” he said.
The incidents ping-ponged along Coast Highway, ranging from north Laguna’s Via Majorca Street to Smithcliffs, Cliff Drive, near Ruby Street, inside Lagunita and on Forest Avenue.
Some vehicles were unlocked, while windows of others were smashed to gain entry. Some of the loot stolen included laptops, cameras, phones and golf clubs along with $10,000 worth of jewelry boosted from the Kokopelli Gallery storefront window at 332 Forest Ave.
The suspects are believed to be dressed in dark clothing and carrying flashlights. Police either don’t know or aren’t saying what kind of vehicle they are traveling in or where they are storing their stolen stash.
Anyone with information is urged to contact Detective Matt Meadows at (949) 497-0758 or via email at email@example.com.
Driver Arrested Following a Collision
Laguna Beach police arrested Jon William Downey, 48, of Garden Grove, for suspicion of felony drunk driving, felony hit and run and violation of parole early Sunday, March 4.
Officers were dispatched to a traffic collision at Bluebird Canyon and Regatta Road at 12:51 a.m., called by residents who described a van fleeing after striking a wall. Officers found Downey east of Wykoff Way trying to pry a damaged front fender off the left tire with a wrench, according to Lt. Jason Kravetz.
Two passengers also sustained injuries in the crash. Brian Kent Tompkins, 26, of Cypress, who was later diagnosed with a fractured shoulder, was arrested for an outstanding felony warrant for a drug possession warrant out of Central Court. The other passenger suffered lacerations to his nose and left cheek, which appeared to have been caused by hitting the windshield, Kravetz said.
Monday, Feb. 27
Animals. 4:33 p.m. Bluebird Beach. A marine mammal or elephant seal washed up.
Traffic stop. 11:07 p.m. Oak St. A San Juan Capistrano woman was arrested for DUI and held for $2,500 bail.
Tuesday, Feb. 28
Traffic stop. 12:40 a.m. 100 block Diamond St. A 38-year-old Laguna Beach man was arrested for DUI and held for $2,500 bail.
Disturbance. 11:24 p.m. 600 block of S. Coast Hwy. Carlos Hassiel Labra, 21, of San Juan Capistrano, was arrested for violating parole and suspicion of filing a false police report after officers checked out his claims about the theft of his 2005 Acura three days earlier from a Del Taco in Santa Ana. Investigators who searched his phone found Labra had posted ads on Craigslist the day before offering the Acura engine for sale. He did not disclose its location to police. Labra was transported to Orange County Jail and held without bail. He is on parole for burglary and possession of stolen property, police said.
Traffic stop. 2:12 a.m. Wesley Drive. A 21-year-old Laguna Hills man was arrested for DUI and held for $10,000 bail.
Collision. 3:49 p.m. 1700 Laguna Canyon Rd. An 18-year-old Laguna Beach skateboarder suffered minor injuries after colliding with a vehicle turning left onto westbound Laguna Canyon Road. The driver was a 68-year-old resident, who preliminarily does not appear to be at fault.
Wednesday, Feb. 29
Traffic stop. 1:55 a.m. Montage Dr. A 30-year-old Dana Point man was arrested for DUI and held for $2,500 bail.
Fraud. 6:07 p.m. 500 block of Temple Hills Dr. A unknown suspect is using a resident’s identity online.
Thursday, March 1
DUI 12:42 a.m. 600 block of Laguna Canyon Rd. A 25-year-old Temecula resident was arrested for DUI and held for $2,500 bail after another motorist reported her swerving.
Fraud. 8:55 a.m. 21600 Ocean Vista Drive. Checking account fraud.
Traffic stop. 10:17 p.m. West St. A 56-year-old San Clemente resident was arrested for DUI and held for $2,500 bail.
Friday, March 2
Traffic stop. 12:37 a.m. Agate St. A San Rafael woman was arrested for DUI and held for $2500 bail.
Petty theft. 10:53 a.m. Cliff Dr. Trash can lids valued at $300 were discovered missing.
Traffic stop. 2:40 p.m. S. Coast Hwy at Pearl St. A 62-year-old Santa Fe, N.M., resident was arrested for DUI and held for $2,500 bail.
Traffic stop. 11:43 p.m. Holly St. A 23-year-old wrong way driver and resident of San Clemente was arrested for DUI and held for bail of $2,500.
Saturday, March 3
Traffic collision. 12:08 a.m. 3000 block of Alta Laguna Blvd. A 21-year-old Santa Ana man was arrested for DUI and held for $2,500.
Traffic stop. 2:58 a.m. Thalia St. A 21-year-old Capo Beach man was cited for DUI and held for $2,500 bail.
Traffic stop. 7:18 a.m. Wesley Dr. A Laguna Niguel woman was cited for DUI and held for $2,500 bail.
Public intoxication. 3:47 p.m. Monterey St. A group of drunken minors getting into their vehicles was reported. Subsequently, an 18-year-old from Monarch Beach was arrested for DUI and held for $2,500 bail.
Indecent exposure. 4:34 p.m. Dumond Drive. A report of a nude male stretching on the beach resulted in the arrest of a local resident, 54, for being drunk in public.
Hit and run. 5:43 p.m. 900 block Laguna Canyon Rd. A 21-year-old Lake Forest man was arrested for DUI and held for $2,500 bail.
Traffic stop. 10:02 p.m. 200 block of Agate St. Rhett Cameron Tucker, 55, of Newport Beach, was arrested for suspicion of DUI and held for $10,000 bail due to a prior offense.
Sunday, March 4
Fraud. 4:11 p.m. 1500 block S. Coast Hwy. Guest Amy Lynn Vartanian, 51, of Rancho Santa Margarita, was arrested for suspicion of methamphetamine possession after police were called to a hotel by staff who reported a guest using a fraudulent credit card. Bail for Vartanian, a guest of the woman who had rented the room, was set at $20,000.
Traffic stop. 7:16 p.m. 100 blk St. Ann’s Dr. David Samuel Dresnick, 46, of Laguna Hills, was arrested for suspicion of drunk driving. This is his second arrest and bail was set at $10,000.