Category Archives: Laguna Beach Real Estate

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1972 United California Bank Robbery

Local Bank Robbery is the U.S’ Largest Ever – An Incredible Story

That’s right, the largest bank heist in U.S history, of $30m (the equivalent of $100m today), happened in our own Monarch Beach in 1972, at the United California Bank located in the shopping center at the corner of Coast Hwy and Crown Valley. It is currently a vacant store next to Chase Bank.

The story has a whole cast of characters, from the mob to the President of the United States, very interrogate planning and execution and a quirky ending with the burglars being caught by dirty dishes.

In 1972 Monarch Beach was a sleepy, low key part of the OC Coast right next to South Laguna. Many of the current communities were just being built or not built at all at that time.

There was one patrol officer covering a 20 mile radius, and the banks weren’t open on the weekends like they are today.

Meanwhile, back East, in Youngstown, OH, which was the cradle of the mafia at that time, a criminal mastermind, named Amil Dinsio, heard of a great opportunity to steal from what he thought was another crook.

Amil had heard, through his den of thieves, that President Nixon had a $10 million dollar campaign slush fund in a bank located near his summer White House in San Clemente.  He was told that the dairy lobby was buying his influence, as the administration was considering discontinuing the cash subsidies to the dairy industry.

Amil assembled a gang of six proven specialist, put together a detailed plan, and flew off in March 1972 to LAX. He and his gang took a taxi to his sister’s house in South Gate and Amil tipped big with a $100 bill. This would later come back to haunt him.

They hired a realtor to find them a condo to rent in the East Nine just off the El Niguel golf course along Crown Valley that had a vantage point of the bank.

They were extremely meticulous in their planning, having previously done this type of robbery back home, and bought a used car and went throughout the county to buy their tools at different locations so they wouldn’t be to obvious.

They started their operation on Friday night by blowing a hole in the bank’s reinforced cement roof with dynamite.  No one even reported the resulting loud boom. They compromised the alarm and dropped down into the bank.

What they found was a room of safe deposit boxes which they opened with great glee in hopes of finding Nixon’s private box.

But they didn’t find it since Nixon’s money was at Bank of America in San Clemente.

Since they didn’t find it they decided to come back the following night. They put a mirror on the covered hole that reflected light up to the condo.  Only after seeing the mirror’s reflection the next day did they go back on Saturday night and then again on Sunday night till just before opening on Monday.

When bank employees tried opening the vault on Monday morning, they were unable to. The bank called for the police, who called for the vault experts to get the door open. Upon examining it, it was found that the timing mechanism of the vault necessary to open it was jammed from the inside. Upon opening the vault door was a mount of cement and gray dust; safety deposit boxes, stocks and bonds, bonds, and photographs were scattered all over the floor.

While it’s hard to say exactly how much they got since it was undeclared jewels and cash, it is estimated at about $30 million (100 million by today’s standard).

They did a magnificent job of trying to make a clean get-away. They scrubbed the condo in great detail with the exception of one thing – they forgot to wash the dishes and their finger prints were found. The car with their robbery tools in the trunk was also found.

But the thing that put the huge team of FBI agents in the right direction was they interviewed all the taxi drivers at LAX and the driver remembered them due to the $100 tip and took them to the sister’s house.

For his role in the crime, Dinsio is sentenced to 10 years in prison.

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OC Housing Awakens: Inventory and demand improved dramatically in the past couple of weeks.

The stock market was taking a beating, driven by low oil prices and worldwide economic turmoil. The start of 2016 had everybody, including the Orange County housing market, on pins and needles. It seemed that the Holiday Market slowdown was not going to thaw like it typically does starting in mid-January.

Right after the Super Bowl’s clock winds down to zero, housing’s Spring Market begins. However, an important step needs to occur first, a cyclical thaw in January with an increase in the inventory and the number of homes coming on the market followed by an increase in demand. All of the holiday trappings of eggnog, family gatherings, the exchanging of gifts, and New Year’s resolutions were now in the rearview mirror. It was time to move on and for the Orange County housing market to awaken. But, it was not happening.

Both inventory and demand were off during the first couple weeks of the year. It appeared as if homeowners and buyers were all taking a wait and see attitude before jumping into the housing market. After the first three weeks of 2016, there were 8% fewer homes coming on the market compared to the start of last year. Demand actually dropped from the start of the New Year to the second week of January, something it had never done in the last decade.

Had the recent Fed hike in the short term rate slowed housing? Did the worldwide economic turmoil and the collapse in financial markets and Wall Street infect Orange County housing? It may have seemed like it, but it’s just not the case. As it turns out, interest rates are actually lower today than when the Federal Reserve hiked the short term rate for the first time in nine years in December. Long term interest rates for housing are not directly tied to the short term rate. Instead, those rates are more closely tied to treasury bonds. Because of all of the international turmoil, worldwide investors have flocked to treasury bonds as one of the safest investments on the globe. As a result, interest rates have actually dropped despite the Fed increasing the short term rate. However, if they continue to increase that rate, it will eventually spread to long term rates and have an effect on housing.

At first, it seemed as if the Orange County housing market’s slow start was tied to Wall Street and the worldwide economic turbulence. Regardless of the reason, it doesn’t matter now. The housing market has turned the corner and revved its powerful engine. In the past two weeks, demand jumped 22% with more buyers and sellers signing on the bottom line. The active inventory has been climbing as well, despite more pending transactions (when homes are changed to pending, they no longer count as part of the active listing total). More homeowners are taking advantage of the low, anemic inventory levels and entering the fray.

With interest rates so low, it is a great time to purchase and cash in on the historically low interest rates. The average interest rate since 1990 is 6.6% (since 1972 it is 8.5%). Today’s rates are unbelievably low. And, it looks as if the Federal Reserve has paused their rate hikes for now due to worldwide economic instability. So, it appears as if these low rates will be around for at least the first half of 2016, making it extremely advantageous to be a buyer. Despite Orange County home values inching its way closer to its prior peak set just prior to the Great Recession, the current interest rate environment has made homeownership much more affordable.

The monthly payment for the detached single family residence median sales price in December of $670,000, at today’s rate of 3.75% and 20% down, would be $2,482. When rates eventually rise to 4.75%, and they will (Freddie Mac forecasted 4.7% by the end of 2016), the payment would rise to $2,796 per month. That’s an increase of $314 per month or $3,768 per year. The bottom line: it makes sense to take advantage of today’s rates. Down the road, today’s buyers will be thrilled that they did.

For sellers in Orange County, the current inventory is extremely anemic and there are buyers waiting for new product to hit the market. The Spring Market officially begins next week after the Super Bowl and there is less competition today than there will be in the middle of spring. While April through May is typically the peak for the year in terms of demand, it is also a peak in the number of homes coming on the market, more competing homes. Waiting in anticipation of more appreciation makes sense in markets that are appreciating rapidly, but buyers today are not overly excited to stretch much more than the most recent sale. Instead, they are looking to purchase at or near a home’s Fair Market Value. Homes are no longer appreciating rapidly. The bottom line: it makes sense to take advantage of today’s low inventory and less competition.

Active Inventory: the inventory has increased by 10% thus far this year.

The active inventory increased by 265 homes, or 6%, in the past two weeks and now sits at 4,841. That’s the largest increase in the inventory since July of last year. With interest rates being so low coupled with a low inventory, today’s hot demand may keep the inventory from growing rapidly until the Summer Market. That remains to be seen and depends upon how quickly seller adjust their prices closer to their Fair Market Values. Last year, 10% of the active inventory reduced the asking price each and every week. Overzealous sellers will have to reduce this year as well until they are in alignment with the Fair Market Value.

Last year at this time the inventory totaled 5,331 homes, 490 more than today, with an expected market time of 2.6 months, or 78 days, a slight seller’s market. Today’s expected market time is similar at 75 days, also a slight seller’s market. A slight seller’s market means that there is not much price appreciation but sellers get to call more of the shots in terms of negotiating the finer details of a contract.

Demand: in the past two-weeks demand skyrocketed and increased by 22%.

Demand, the number of new pending sales over the prior month, increased by 343 homes in the past two-weeks, and now totals 1,936. That’s the largest increase since February of last year. During the same two-week period in 2015, demand actually increased by 454 pending sales and it totaled 2,053, or 6% more than today.


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The Miracle Baby of Laguna Beach

By Amy Wilson

The Orange County Register

LAGUNA BEACH, Calif. – Sometime after midnight, a baby asleep on Donald Duck sheets was swept out of her house, out of her crib and into the night. That she was found at all is a miracle.

That she was alive is whatever is better than a miracle.

Nine-month-old Tiffany Sarabia rode the mudslide yesterday in Laguna Beach that smashed three homes and killed two men. (one was a British fellow who barely escaped the mud that destroyed his residence and he went over to a friend’s house only to be killed when the slide destroyed that house as well)

The man who found her was likewise swept away. Gary Segraves, 51, had come to Laguna Canyon Road to help his daughter, Jenifer, who had been stranded in an earlier slide. He was staying the night when the second slide hit, slamming him into the side of an animal shelter. When Segraves stopped rolling, he realized there was a baby with him on a pile of rocks and twigs and living-room furniture.

Segraves had lost his glasses, and at first he thought she was a muddy doll.

“I pinched its fingers to see if it was alive,” he said.

Shaken, tired and hurt, Segraves handed the mud-swaddled baby to a stranger named Todd Tingley. The baby’s brown eyes were open. She looked up at Tingley, who told her she was safe now.

Tingley took the baby and jogged toward the road, to firefighter Frank Ybarra, aboard the first firetruck pulling up to the scene.

“I didn’t have one foot on the ground when they handed me a baby covered in mud,” Ybarra said. “She had mud packed in her mouth and nose. She was very cold and wet, and she was not breathing.”

Ybarra cleared her airway with a bulb syringe – five times, 10 times.

“She started moaning a little bit, and breathing,” Ybarra said. “She was living!”

That done, he cut her wet, filthy pajamas off her and wiped mud from her face.

Meanwhile, Teresa Sarabia, barely conscious, had been loaded onto an ambulance. When she awoke, she was frantic about her husband and three children.

“My baby! My baby!” she screamed.

Ybarra showed her the ambulance’s other passenger: a baby.


Copyright (c) 1998 Seattle Times Company, All Rights Reserved.


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One of my Favorite Stories – Laguna’s Native Flute Child Prodigy and Skate Board Speed Champion – Evren Ozan

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I remember walking around the Oak St. area around 2000 and seeing this pre-teen kid skate boarding over homemade ramps like no one else before and I took note. Only a little later did I hear this great story and ended up watching him at local concerts and listening to his award winning CDs.

Evren was six years old when he discovered the native flute on a cross-country road trip.  At the first stop, the Grand Canyon, Evren went straight to the native instruments counter and picked out a cedar flute.  He paid for it with all of his trip allowance, and could naturally play Indian tunes and has been playing native flutes ever since.

He was recognized for his given talents and studied under the masters in short order.

Evren has released three independent, instrumental albums:  IMAGES OF WINTER (2001); AS THINGS COULD BE (2003) and ALLUVIA (2006).

Evren Ozan retrospective from age six to fifteen; 5.5 minutes of music, film and photography featuring the award-winning recording artist and performer, Evren Ozan

Click here to watch the video

Hold on tight when you watch this – Speed, Power and Style! Here’s Evren unleashed with raw footy that captures his addiction. Filmed and edited by his LBDR homie … Nathan Bryant

Click here to watch the video

Some highlights of his music career include a featured solo performance at the Native American Music Awards when he was eight, being named a Davidson Fellow in Music at eleven, performing throughout the continental US and in Alaska, Hawaii, England, Belgium and, in Germany, in affiliation with Doctors Without Borders.  He has performed at events featuring Jane Goodall, Robert Kennedy, Jr., John McConnell, founder of Earth Day, and many, many environmental, charitable and educational venues, as well as concert halls, museums, schools, festivals, galleries and private events.

Evren has appeared in media such as National Geographic’s WORLD, News from Indian Country, Time for Kids, Scholastic, New Age Reporter, Body and Soul Magazine, Global Rhythms, Public Radio International’s, “The World,” and diverse public, independent, internet and international radio and satellite programs, newspapers and magazines.  His music is also featured in numerous independent films.
Evren is a member of the Recording Academy and was named on the 50th Grammy Awards Entry List for “Best New Artist” and “Best New Age Album” for ALLUVIA.  The Native American Music Awards named ALLUVIA “Best Instrumental Recording” for 2007, and recognized Evren as “Rising Star” in both 2001 and 2005.

Born in 1993, Evren is of Anglo, Osage and Turkish descent.  He has studied music theory and improvisation with Berklee Music and Stanford University’s EPGY, native flute with traditional instrument maker and musician, Guillermo Martinez, and continues to study classical silver flute and theory.  Mac Ritchey of Possum Hall Studios has produced all of Evren’s albums to date,  and a fourth album is in pre-production.   A homeschooler, Evren’s other interests include flying and downhill skateboarding. In 2009, Evren was named the IGSA Junior Downhill World Champion, and in the fall of 2011, Evren began college full-time. While majoring in pilot aviation training and logging time at a local airport, Evren continues to perform and demonstrate the Native American flute to audiences of all ages.

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Who lived in Orange County before you?

500 BC: Indians (*8) – Coronne clan, later known as Tongva Indians, lived at Aliso Creek and Laguna Lakes.  They dubbed the area as “Lagonas,” the Indian word for lakes.  They depended upon the fresh water, game, and marine life for survival.  Remnants of these villages were seen by the early homesteaders.


Acjachemen (Ah-HAWSH-eh-men) village. * Illustration by Mary Leighton Thomson

A Thriving Nation 12,000 BC – 1542 AD

California has a rich Native American heritage.  Hundreds of tribes call California home, more than any other state.  The native inhabitants of San Juan Capistrano and all of Orange County belong to the Acjachemen Nation.  For more than 10,000 years, the Acjachemen (A-ha-che-men, also called Acagchemem or Juaneño) occupied the pristine coastline, vast valleys, and majestic mountains which spanned from Long Beach to Oceanside, as far east as Lake Elsinore, and westward to Catalina and San Clemente Islands.  The Acjachemen possessed an intricate social structure based on clans.  Villages were governed by male and female clan chiefs called Nu and Coronne who oversaw hunting and gathering expeditions, migrations to seasonal settlements, tribal councils, and ceremonies.  Villages contained populations of about 50 to 250 people each.  Women and men wore grass skirts and animal skins with elaborate jewelry made of shells, seeds, and beads.  Within the village, Acjachemen families lived in ki-chas, dome-shaped huts made of willow and tule, and ate wi-wish or acorn meal, fish and roasted deer or rabbit meat.  Hunting was performed with bow and arrows, snares, and throwing sticks.  Elaborate stone bowls, grinding stones, and tools were ingeniously made by the Acjachemen as well as intricately woven baskets.  The Acjachemen were a deeply spiritual people who celebrated their religion in sacred ceremonies of dance and song.

An Inflicted Nation 1543-1834

Spanish exploration of Alta California began with the voyage of Juan Rodriguez Cabrillo in 1542.  This would be the first contact between Europeans and Native Californians.  In 1769, Gaspar de Portola’s expedition of Spanish soldiers and Franciscan padres would be the first recorded contact in Orange County between the Acjachemen and Spanish.  WIth the advent of Spanish occupation of California in 1769, the native peoples were integrated into the mission system.  By 1776, Father Junipera Serra, charged with establishing missions in Alta California, founded the seventh mission known as the Mission San Juan Capistrano.  The Acjachemen were forced to adapt to a new way of life and system of beliefs which were foreign to them.  The newcomers also introduced diseases which inflicted a loss of over 60% of the Acjachemen population.  The Mission San Juan Capistrano was established upon an Acjachemen sacred site and was the basis for a new identity for the Acjachemen who were then named San Juaneños by the padres.

A Transformed Nation 1835-1940

In 1821, Mexico achieved independence from Spain leading to the liberation of the Juaneños by Mexican Governor Figueroa in October 1833.  With the Mexican occupation of Alta California, the Acjachemen/Juaneños became transformed into citizens of Mexico overnight and thus adopted Mexican culture, names, and a second language.  The Mission San Juan Capistrano became dismantled, secularized, and abandoned.  The Mission San Juan Capistrano was placed on public auction in 1845 by order of Mexican Governor Pio Pico.  Don Juan Forster, and English settler, then purchased the Mission San Juan Capistrano for $710.  By 1848, Mexican and American troops were at war over the western territory.  Having defeated the Mexican army, American forces negotiated the surrender of California to the United States via the Treaty of Guadalupe Hidalgo.  Thus, the Republic of California was established in 1850 and California became the 31st state in the American Union.  This opened the flood gates to American immigrants into southern California.  The Acjachemen were forced again to adopt another foreign culture and a third language — English.  American Indian Agents sent Native children to far-away boarding schools, while their parents learned the new rancho occupations.  Native Americans would remain foreigners to the United States until the passing of the Federal American Indian Citizenship Act of 1928.  The California Mission Indian Federation was founded during the early 1900s to fight for California Indian Native rights and recognition.  Acjachemen representation within the Federation was in the form of traditional clan leaders called Capitane.

A Sovereign Nation 1941 – Present

Clarence Lobo became the first Acjachemen leader to formalize a government to government exchange between the Acjachemen Nation and Washington, D.C.  The Acjachemen were one of hundreds of tribes across North America to be overlooked as living tribes by Washington.  And thus began the pursuit for Federal Recognition of the Acjachemen Nation.  Clarence Lobo led this charge until is death in the 1980s.  During the 1980s, formal governmental structure was established and elected Tribal Council was inaugurated.  An official petition for Federal Recognition was submitted to the U.S. Bureau of Acknowledgement and Research (BAR) in August of 1982.  All Federal requirements were finalized and submitted in September 1999.  The Acjachemen Nation currently waits on a Ready for Active Consideration list for BAR’s attention and then finally Federal Recognition.  The Acjachemen Nation today is an organized, democratic body comprised of a membership of over 2,300 members.  Elected Tribal Council Members serve 4-year terms and direct the affairs of the Tribe.  Various Tribal duties are delegated to Committees including Culture, Archaeology, Education, Community Events, Basketweavers, and others.  The Acjachemen culture and language lives on in ceremony, traditional songs, and history. [from]