Briefly In Public Safety

July 21, 2011

Men arrested over stolen wallet

Two men who allegedly stole a shop owner's wallet were apprehended by police after a chase near Ocean Avenue on July 14, according to Laguna Beach police.

Gary Thomas Finley, 38, of Riverside, was arrested on suspicion of robbery and resisting arrest. He is a convicted thief and on parole, police said.


Riley Kyle Higgins, 20, of Anaheim, was arrested on suspicion of robbery, resisting arrest and being under the influence of drugs.

At 2:12 p.m., the two men entered Sirous and Sons Rug Gallery at 222 Ocean Ave. and allegedly took the owner's wallet from the top of a pile of rugs.

When the owner noticed his wallet missing, he ran out after the men and caught them as they were jumping over a fence. The three struggled with the wallet, but the owner was able to get away with it.

A bicycle cop was nearby and tried to get the men to stop, but they ran across Coast Highway to Main Beach. The officer caught Finley at Main Beach, and Higgins was arrested at Heisler Park.

The wallet had an estimated value of $300.


Suspect pries open, damages machines

Pay station machines in the 400 block of Glenneyre Street are now inoperable after a thief broke them open and damaged them Sunday morning, according to Laguna Beach police.

At 7:46 a.m., it was reported that the pay station machines had been pried open by some kind of tool, Lt. Jason Kravetz said. The suspect stole $472 from the upper lot machine and $218 from the lower lot.

The suspect heavily damaged the machines, Kravetz said, which are each valued at $12,000.

The machines have not been broken into before, Kravetz said.

—Joanna Clay


Man hurt in motorcycle collision

COSTA MESA — A Laguna Beach man suffered a serious head injury July 15 after his motorcycle collided head-on with an SUV on Superior Avenue, Costa Mesa police said.

At about 9:50 p.m., Thomas Michael Skelly, 35, was riding his motorcycle southbound in the 1600 block of Superior Avenue when a driver in a 1997 Jeep Cherokee facing northbound on the street turned left in front of him, police said.

Skelly collided head-on with the SUV and suffered brain trauma in the crash, authorities said. He is in stable condition. The driver, whom police did not identify because she's a juvenile, was not cited or arrested at the scene.

Police are investigating. Anyone who witnessed or has information regarding the crash is asked to call Costa Mesa Traffic Investigator Rick Cummings at (714) 754-5264.

— Joseph Serna


Four charged in smuggling attempt

Four Mexican nationals face federal charges for their alleged involvement in last week's attempt at Crystal Cove to smuggle undocumented immigrants by boat into the country, authorities said.

The four were among 14 detained at the state park July 12 when their panga capsized as it tried to land there illegally, U.S. Department of Homeland Security officials said in a news release July 15.

Among those charged are the boat's captain, assistant captain and the navigator, according to the release.

The fourth person facing federal charges was a passenger who had been arrested two weeks earlier, when he tried to enter the United States illegally in another boat that came ashore in Orange County, authorities said.

Five others were charged last week in connection to other alleged maritime smuggling incidents along the Southern California coast.

— Lauren Williams

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