Suspected Indian Jewelry Thief Arrested



Jeffrey Todd Stark

Laguna Beach police arrested a Corona del Mar man Thursday who is suspected in a string of commercial burglaries in recent months where a window-shattering thief stole Native American jewelry, according to police.

Detectives took Jeffrey Todd Stark, 51, into custody after being notified that DNA analysis linked him to one of the commercial burglaries in Laguna Beach and another in Newport Beach, said a statement from Lt. Jason Kravetz.

It is anticipated that the Newport Beach Police Department will add other charges at a later date, he said.

Subsequent to making the arrest, detectives obtained a search warrant for Stark’s home, where they recovered several stolen pieces of Native American jewelry, which had been taken during the Laguna Beach burglaries, the statement said.

Matt Wood, owner of Laguna Beach’s Indian Territory, which was hit in December, said police told him DNA evidence collected at his shop provided the link used to match up with a photo of a shoplifter at Laguna Beach’s Kokopelli Gallery, hit by burglars twice in recent weeks.

In the most recent incident on Saturday, March 10, the French door of the Kokopelli Gallery, at 332 Forest Ave., was shattered by a thief who stole $3,500 worth of jewelry in less than a minute. The act was caught on videotape, which police released on Monday. A similar break-in occurred at the same jewelry store 11 days earlier. Losses then tallied $10,000 in stones and jewelry, Kravetz said.

An investigation of the most recent incident revealed that Stark was in possession of a car seen leaving the March 10 burglary. He also matched the description of the suspect in the store video, which was released earlier this week, and had injuries consistent with the DNA evidence left at the scene.

The string of thefts involving Native American jewelry began with Indian Territory, 305 N. Coast Highway, where a thief broke in Dec. 29 and made off with $3,000 worth of Navajo coins and turquoise necklaces. Three weeks later, a window-breaking culprit returned to the same location and stole a $15,000 Navajo collector’s set, which included 11 concha coral medallions.

Though Native American jewelry appeared to be a common thread in the five Laguna Beach break-ins, Wood thinks the thief had no particular cultural interest. “It’s easy to sell at swap meets; he’s an opportunist,” Wood speculated.

Next, a thief shattered the front window of the Great Exchange Consignment store at 976 S. Coast Highway on Jan. 30, emptying a display case of jewelry whose value was not estimated.

Stark will be charged with four counts of commercial burglary and possession of stolen property, police said.

 Save Home From Brush Fire

Sparks from a homeowner’s construction project sparked a brush fire last Friday afternoon in Bluebird Canyon, according to firefighters.

The blaze in vegetation beneath a cliffside house in the 1300 block of Morningside Drive caused slight damage to the property’s deck, estimated at $10,000, said Deputy Chief Jeff LaTendresse. He credited dual-pane windows with preventing the fire from consuming the structure. The homeowner’s repair project cutting metal on the deck started the fire, he said.

Firefighters wearing air tanks and heavy boots came prepared to fight a structure fire, but ended up in a brushy and steep hillside. “It

was treacherous in gear normally for a structure fire,” he said.

Photos courtesy of Philip Tupy

Nevertheless, firefighters prevented the fire from spreading and doused the blaze in under 15 minutes.




Monday, March 5

Fraud. 1:28 p.m. 31800 block of Coast Hwy. A 68-year-old suspect is filing prescriptions using the name of a doctor.

Petty theft. 1:50 p.m. 300 block of Broadway St. John Curtis Kindres, 56, of San Clemente was arrested for suspicion of shoplifting. Due to a prior conviction bail was set at $20,000.

Burglary attempt. 9:39 p.m. 28900 Sommet du Monde. A resident heard someone use an electronic fingerprint scanner, which beeped twice, indicating an invalid fingerprint.

DUI. 9:52 p.m. Aliso Circle. Margaret Bethany David, 50, of Louisiana, was detained on a no bail warrant.

Vehicle burglary. 11:31 p.m. 1600 block of Louise St. Someone was observed entering an unlocked vehicle. Nothing was stolen.


Tuesday, March 6

Burglary. 9:58 a.m. 400 block of Nyes Place. A resident reported the theft of jewelry from a bedroom drawer as well as a notebook and tablet computer also stolen from the top of the dresser. Entry was gained through an unlocked door. The loss is estimated at $2,100.

Traffic collision. 3:21 p.m. Glenneyre St. A 68-year-old Laguna Beach woman suffered a broken wrist and contusions to her head after being struck in a crosswalk by a vehicle driven by a 34-year-old Dana Point woman. The driver was making a left turn from westbound Park Avenue to southbound Glenneyre Street when she failed to see the pedestrian.

Traffic collision. 4:32 p.m. Temple Hills Drive. A vehicle flipped over. The driver suffered no injuries though the road was temporarily closed.


Wednesday, March 7

Vehicle burglary. 6:55 a.m. 100 block of Blue Lagoon. Loss of contents valued at $500.

Fraud. 10:33 a.m. 1100 block of Catalina St. A suspect used a resident’s account to pay his Comcast bill.

Petty theft. 11:46 a.m. 2500 Duarte Way. A resident’s order of controlled prescription drugs was delivered, signed for by a neighbor who denies receiving them.

Fraud report. 3:50 p.m. 300 block of Thalia St. A man is attempting to fill a bogus scrip at a pharmacy. Police are unable to locate a suspect.

Pedestrian stop. 7:11 p.m. 300 block Anita St. Jesse Allett Cook, 22, of Laguna Beach, was arrested for a $20,000 outstanding felony warrant for possession of narcotics and syringes, and being under the influence of drugs.


Thursday, March 8

Petty theft. 8:51 a.m. 100 block Coast Hwy. Brian Matthew Devore, 37, of Mission Viejo was arrested for suspicion of burglary and robbery and held for $100,000 bail. Devore allegedly went into a convenience store and stole a pack of cigarettes. A tussle ensued and the clerk grabbed Devore by his shirt and ripped it off before he fled. A shirtless suspect with smokes was found in the 300 block of Ocean Avenue.


Friday, March 9

Vehicle burglary. 7:17 a.m. S. La Senda Dr. Overnight, someone broke the padlock on the back of camper, stealing tools and a computer monitor valued at $1,000.

Burglary. 8:59 a.m. 800 block of Hillcrest Drive. A witness reported seeing a subject coming down the steps of his property yesterday. Loss of U.S. Bank checks and other unknown items.

Fraud. 10:14 p.m. 1000 block of S. Coast Hwy. Debit card fraud $1,400.

Fraud. 11:29 a.m. 400 block Brooks St. A resident was notified Glendora police are investigating someone attempting to open fraudulent accounts under her name.

Fraud. 5:33 p.m.  31600 block of Second Ave. A resident filed a report to document the theft of an ATM card in Tulum, Mexico, in the state of Quintana Roo, which had been used to siphon $1,400 from her account in January. Seven in the resident’s group have been victimized in the same manner.

Traffic collision. 6:12 p.m. S. Coast Hwy. A bicyclist suffered a broken left ankle and an abrasion on his elbow when a passenger of a stopped Mercedes opened the right rear door to exit in front of an oncoming bicyclist.  The accident occurred in the northbound lane of Coast Highway near Laguna Avenue.

Reckless driving. 8:21 p.m. Laguna Canyon Road. Two witnesses who reported a vehicle hitting a pole and running a red light resulted in the arrest of a 50-year-old driver from Orange for DUI. Bail was set at $2,500.

Traffic stop. 11:43 p.m. An Anaheim woman, 64, whose surname is Booze, allegedly lived up to her name and was arrested for suspicion of DUI. Bail was set at $2,500.


Saturday, March 10

Traffic stop. 12:21 a.m. Bluebird Canyon Dr. A Long Beach man was arrested for DUI and held for $10,000 bail. A prior offense could not be confirmed.

Noise complaints. 1:07 a.m. 1100 block S. Coast Hwy. In response to two noise complaints within an hour, a restaurant manager told police an existing permit allowed playing live music til 2 a.m.

Traffic stop. 1:45 a.m.  31000 blk Coast Hwy. A 35-year-old San Clemente woman was arrested for DUI and held for $2,500 bail.

Traffic stop. 2:37 a.m. 300 block of Broadway St. Driver Kirk Edward Roland Jr., 28, of Yucca Valley, was arrested for a no bail warrant out of Tacoma, Wash., for child molestation. The front passenger, Ernie Padilla II, 27, of Temecula, was cited and released on a $25,000 warrant out of San Bernardino County for drunk driving.  The rear passenger only had a suspended license and was released at the scene.

DUI. 3:07 a.m. 30800 block of Coast Hwy. A 22-year-old Laguna Beach resident was arrested for suspicion of DUI and held for $2,500.

DUI. 1:24 p.m. Laguna Canyon Road. An officer observed a vehicle driven by David Alexander Marengo, 22, of San Clemente swerving. He was arrested for suspicion of possession of a controlled substance, marijuana and drunk driving.  Bail was set at $20,000.

Welfare check. 5:25 p.m. 700 block of S. Coast Hwy. A San Diego woman who smelled of alcohol when leaving a market was pulled over and arrested for suspicion of DUI.

Traffic stop. 9:47 p.m. 200 block of Diamond St. A 37-year-old Laguna Beach man was arrested for suspicion of DUI and several prescription narcotics.

Traffic collision. 9:50 p.m. 31600 block of S. Coast Hwy. Barbara Anne Geraghty, 62, of Dana Point, was arrested for suspicion of drunk driving after hitting a pedestrian who had crossed the street in front of her , though not in a crosswalk. The victim suffered right leg fractures, right ankle fracture and abrasions all over his body. She was found not at fault for the collision and thus charged with only the misdemeanor section for drunk driving.

Traffic stop. 11:53 p.m. Vista del sol. A 16-year-old San Clemente girl was detained for drunk driving, being unlicensed, and hit and run. Officers attempted to stop her vehicle, but instead she sped off and crashed through a barrier at Three Arch Bay. She continued driving until pulling over on South Alta Mira Road. Officers detained her and her 17- year old male passenger, also from San Clemente.


Sunday, March 11

Fight. 12:34 a.m. 300 block of S. Coast Hwy. Two people were arrested for misdemeanor assault and battery as a result of a fight and a large contingent of emergency vehicles.

Traffic stop. 8:09 p.m. 400 block of N. Coast Hwy. A 42 year old San Juan Capistrano resident was arrested for DUI and held for $2,500 bail.


Follow-up: Toxicology results show that cocaine was present in the system of surfing legend Michael Elliot Tomson, 57, of Laguna Beach, who was arrested for suspicion of drunk driving and possession of cocaine last Dec. 8, according to Lt. Jason Kravetz. Laguna police pulled Tomson over for a traffic infraction and noticed signs of impairment.

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