2017 police blotter continued to inform, yet surprise residents

As Chief Shelly Vander Veen marks the end of her first full year at the helm of the Claremont Police Department, one notable difference is that officers have reached out to the community in a big way.

Throughout 2017, the department held events and open houses for residents to tour the station. The idea, Chief Vander Veen said at the inaugural coffee event in March, is to give the public an opportunity to get to know Claremont officers in an informal setting.

It’s no secret that the police blotter is among the most popular section of the paper. We’ve heard time and again that Claremonters love to check out the latest criminal activity in Claremont. For your nostalgic enjoyment, here’s the best of the best.


Officers found 29-year-old Bryan Rojas-Contreras running naked near the intersection of San Jose and Mountain around 8:15 p.m. on January 3. Mr. Rojas-Contreras was uncooperative, screaming obscenities at officers, and reportedly pleading, “Just let me dream, please just let me dream.” Officers tackled him and he was transported to the hospital. He was issued a citation for resisting arrest and being under the influence of a controlled substance.


A Rancho Cucamonga man was arrested for being drunk in public at 1:30 a.m. on February 23. Alex Conifer-Macias, 22, knocked on the door of a home on 12th Street when police arrived. During questioning, Mr. Conifer-Macias apparently thought he was at a friend’s house in Rancho Cucamonga. His speech was slurred, and he had trouble standing up without assistance. He was arrested and spent the night in the drunk tank.


Police arrested a suspected mail thief on March 3 after he led them on a wild, naked pursuit. John Gerard, a 54-year-old San Clemente resident, was caught stealing mail from a home on Ridgefield just after 9:30 a.m. When the homeowner confronted Mr. Gerard, he fled the scene. Police located him on Sumner Avenue, and Mr. Gerard led them on a three-mile chase that ended in Live Oak Canyon, where he smashed into a gate, fled on foot up a hill and removed his clothing. The naked suspect was taken into custody with the help of the LA County Sheriff’s Department and La Verne PD.


So much for this friendship—an unidentified man drove off in his friend’s car while the two dined at Norm’s restaurant. The two men arrived at the restaurant around 3:30 a.m. April 8, with the driver leaving his keys inside the car. As the friends dined, the driver got up to go to the restroom, at which point his buddy left the restaurant and drove off in his friend’s Kia Rio, police said.


A Rancho Cucamonga woman was arrested for DUI after she asked a neighborhood resident for a drink and a shot glass. Amanda Ruiz, 21, allegedly walked up to the home on  Piedmont Mesa on May 20 and requested the libations. Police were called, and they found Ms. Ruiz slouched over the wheel of her car, asleep with the keys in the ignition and the engine running. Police determined Ms. Ruiz was drunk and arrested her for DUI.


A 20-year-old Rowland Heights man created a scene on June 29 at Espiau’s, Union on Yale, Pizza N Such, Blaze Pizza and Eureka Burger. Police said Manuel Avila took food off diners’ tables and threw it at them. Mr. Avila also reportedly asked female diners if they wanted to “see his beef,” police said. Once he got to Eureka around 9:30 p.m., two customers held him down until police arrived. During the scuffle, Mr. Avila fell into a large window, causing a crack that cost $400 to repair. He was arrested for battery and vandalism.


Covina resident Ryan Jones, 35, was observed stumbling along Yale Avenue around 1:50 a.m. July 8 and getting into his car just north of Second Street. When police pulled him over, Mr. Jones was apologetic and said he had “too much to drink.” He was arrested and transported to jail. Just before 4 a.m., police pulled over another car driven by 24-year-old Stephanie Gomez from Ontario for driving without working taillights. Ms. Gomez told police, “Actually my friend just got arrested by you guys and I was at the police station checking in on him. His name is Ryan.” Police determined she was also drunk. Ms. Gomez was arrested for DUI and joined her friend at CPD jail.


Around 11:50 a.m. August 18 on Garey Avenue, 28-year-old Cleopatra Williams got into a traffic collision with another vehicle. When the victim got out of her car, Ms. Williams tried to flee, hitting the victim with her car and carrying her around 35 feet on the hood before the victim fell off, police said. The victim suffered an injury to her hand, but was not taken to the hospital. Ms. Williams’ front license plate was found at the scene, and she eventually returned to the location. She was arrested for hit and run, assault and driving with a suspended license.


Daniel Lustig, 24, entered the Chevron on South Indian Hill Boulevard September 10 and loaded up on coffee creamers, according to police. The employee tried to stop him, saying they were only free for people who bought coffee, but Mr. Lustig left the scene. He returned just before midnight and tried to steal more creamers. This time, Mr. Lustig shoulder-bumped the employee as he tried to leave, and was wrestled to the ground by several patrons and held until police arrived. He was arrested on a robbery charge.


A 22-year-old was pulled over on Mountain Avenue just before 7 a.m. on October 27 after police found out the Hyundai Accent he was driving was reported stolen. The man was arrested. Police later learned that not only did he not know the car he was driving was stolen, it was his mother who as wanted for stealing it.


On November 10, a witness heard a loud banging noise from the DoubleTree Hotel parking lot. When a security guard approached a man standing near a car, he dropped a rock and tried to hide it underneath the car. He was arrested for attempted burglary, but was released without charges a short time later. The reason, police said, was that he was trying to get his keys from inside the locked rental car, and thought breaking the window would be a better idea than paying the extra fee for lost keys.


A Claremonter named Lucky wasn’t so fortunate when he was arrested for DUI. Officers responded to Foothill and Regis around 10:30 p.m. December 8 after getting a call of a car crashing into the median. The driver, 25-year-old Lucky Duong, was found by police to be under the influence of alcohol, and he was arrested. A passenger in the car was not arrested.

—Matthew Bramlett


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