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Police sting nets 18 men for allegedly cruising in Manhattan Beach bathroom

Brian Watt/KPCC

The beaches are now safe after police conducted a sting against bathroom cruisers in Manhattan Beach.

Let it never be said that Manhattan Beach police -- or for that matter, the city’s Daily Breeze newspaper -- aren’t doing all they can to protect the public.

Certainly not after their fine work Tuesday, when 18 men were arrested -- then outed and shamed forever, with their names and faces posted online by the Breeze -- for allegedly cruising in a beachside restroom.

Police say they became aware last month that the bathroom, located at the end of Marine Avenue, was a popular cruise spot after lifeguards noticed men going in and staying for too long. The restroom had also been vandalized, with peep holes (also known as “glory holes”) carved into the stall walls.

Lifeguards reported the suspicious activity, and the Manhattan Beach Police Department decided to set up a sting operation.

The sting doesn’t appear to have been too complicated: According to the Breeze, police staked out the place and sent in undercover detectives to see if they could find any action. They could, repeatedly -- and a total of 18 men were busted and charged with such crimes as lewd conduct in public, loitering, invasion of privacy and indecent exposure.

Following that success, police released the names, birthdates, home towns and guilty-looking mugshots of all 18 arrestees -- and the Breeze dutifully posted all that information online, along with whatever they could dig up by Googling their names.

At least two of the arrestees say they’re innocent and were picked up by mistake. “I was in the wrong place at the wrong time,” one of them told the Breeze. “You have completely ruined my life.”

Be that as it may, the city is now safe: Police say lewd activity has ceased entirely, at least in that restroom. And authorities have removed the stall doors altogether, so no one’s privacy can be invaded.

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