Southern California breaking news and trends

Tide detergent theft: Loads of dirty money leave a stain on brand identity

tide laundry detergent

Photo by Brandi Korte via Flickr Creative Commons

Tide detergent bandits are cleaning up, as authorities across the country mark a rise in the theft of high-priced laundry soap. 

Police say the signature suds are being sold and traded on the black market for quick cash and drugs.

With a retail price of roughly $10 to $20 a bottle, the street value of Tide can go for $5 to $10, says the iPad-based publication, The Daily, who first reported the new, nationwide trend in liquid currency.

One police detective said of the transactions, "They’ll do it right in front of a cop car -- buying heroin or methamphetamine with Tide...We would see people walking down the road with six, seven bottles."

In California, grocery chains like Ralphs have been on high alert in the area of organized shoplifting and retail crime, notes NBC LA. "These thieves target many different products like Tide, Red Bull, or shampoo," said a Ralphs rep.

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FBI arrests San Bernardino social studies teacher for child pornography

Eugene Ballantyne

Image via NBC LA

Eugene Ballantyne

A middle school teacher in San Bernardino was arrested Tuesday by the FBI on child pornography charges. Eugene Ballantyne, 29, taken into custody at his home, is accused of trading sexually explicit photos with a 13-year-old New Jersey girl.

According to a FBI affidavit filed in federal court, the teacher also told investigators he had sex with a 17-year-old girl in July, and that two years earlier he'd received sexually explicit pictures from a 15-year-old girl, NBC LA reports.

Under the alias "John Baldwin," Ballantyne contacted the South Brunswick, N.J. teen in an internet chat room. The suspect, claiming to be a 25-year-old teacher from Corona, also corresponded with the girl by cellphone and email, notes the L.A. Times.

FBI investigators and South Brunswick police tracked emails, calls and photos to Ballantyne’s cellphone after the girl’s mother reported to local authorities that illicit material was being exchanged between her daughter and a man in California.

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NFL at Rose Bowl: Pasadena approves $400,000 impact study

Mercer 13300

Susan Valot/KPCC

The 88-year-old Rose Bowl stadium.

A $400,000 environmental impact study was approved in a 6-to-1 vote by the Pasadena City Council on Monday night as the first step in potentially offering up the Rose Bowl as a temporary home for LA's non-existant NFL team. 

The study -- examining land use, air quality, noise, and traffic impact -- will take about eight months to complete, and the city will split expenses with Rose Bowl Operating Committee. The committee still has approve a $200,000 transfer to the city's General Fund, however, notes the SVG Tribune

Rose Bowl General Manager Darryl Dunn told KPCC he believes the cost is worth it and that the stadium can provide a comfortable interim home. "We’re in the middle of a renovation which will be completed substantially by September of 2013, which would be the soonest a team would be moving here," said Dunn. 

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Pepperdine University leader Maurice Hilliard found dead in Malibu

Pepperdine University

Photo by Yeshwanth Rao via Flickr Creative Commons

The body of Pepperdine University's athletic chaplain, assistant coach, and program director, Maurice Hillard, was found Monday on the beach in Malibu. The campus leader was reportedly out for a walk when he collapsed, reports KTLA.

Hilliard's body was discovered near Corral Canyon in the 2600 block of Pacific Coast Highway around 9 a.m. The exact cause of death was not determined, however the coroner noted no sign of foul play or trauma to the body. An autopsy will be conducted.

Pepperdine's president, Andrew K. Benton, released a statement Monday afternoon:

"We are saddened to learn that Maurice Hilliard, our University Athletic Chaplain and program director at the Boone Center for the Family, died earlier today. Maurice touched the lives of so many of us at Pepperdine, especially our athletes who looked up to Maurice as a friend, counselor, and mentor. He will be greatly missed.

Maurice grew up in Los Angeles and earned a bachelor's degree at the University of La Verne and a Master's of Divinity in Apologetics at Biola University. He spent 10 years as a basketball coach at Pepperdine and then became the program director at the Boone Center for the Family.

Maurice recently published a book called The Price of a Pearl where he shared what he learned through teaching, coaching, and mentoring young adults. He said he wrote the book for 'those who will open their hearts and minds to the healing power of God and who are willing to receive help.'

Maurice was frequently invited to speak at conferences and seminars about the transformational power of God in the lives of young adults.

More information will be provided as it becomes available.Please offer your prayers for Maurice's family and help each other through this difficult time."

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Little league strips season from 300 kids, balks at gentlemen's club donation

baseball lake

Photo by Marcus McCurdy via Flickr Creative Commons

No one's getting to home base this year. The Lennox Little League has changed its mind about accepting a $1,200 donation from a local strip club that could have saved their 2012 season.

Nearby gentlemen's club, Jet Strip, along with other donations, would have covered the higher price of playing ball after an increase in fees including the school district's double price for diamond usage.

Despite the fallout for around 40 teams — approximately 300 kids — league officials "felt the source of the money was not appropriate," KTLA reports.

League president, Roberto Aguirre, hopes the district will be able to re-negotiate fees so the kids can still play baseball this season.

Unlike, say, the movie-version of this storyline, Jet Strip was not asking for its logo to appear on any team jerseys.

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