Robbers steal retirement watch from 88-year-old former lifeguard chief

Friends and community members are rallying around a retired Long Beach lifeguard chief after he was followed home and robbed of a commemorative watch.

Richard Miller, 88, was sitting outside his Alamitos Heights home on the morning of April 14 when two men got out of their car, knocked him to the ground and robbed him, according to accounts from Long Beach police and a friend of Miller.

Miller suffered only minor injuries, but the robbers took the beloved watch that was given to him by the Long Beach Lifeguard Association about 30 years ago to commemorate his retirement. On the back was the engraving: Chief Miller.

“He’s doing well, but he’s disappointed it happened,” said Long Beach Fire Department Marine Safety Captain Scott Dixon, who talked to Miller about the robbery.

The two men who robbed Miller fled the area in an unknown vehicle before police could arrive, according to the Long Beach Police Department. No arrests have been made and detectives continue to investigate the incident, police said in a statement.

Soon after the robbery though, locals began to rally around Miller, who is well-known in the community for his decades-long career, Dixon said.

As a Long Beach native that came from a family of lifeguards, Miller spent most of his life surrounded by water. He has been rescuing people at the Colorado Lagoon since he was a teenager, according to his Aquatic Capital of America, a non-profit organization formed in 2008 that aims to promote aquatic activities offered in Long Beach.

From 1974 to 1984, Miller served as chief lifeguard before eventually being appointed as a director with the Long Beach Marine Bureau.

“I can’t tell you all the great things he’s done,” said Dixon, who was grateful for all the support Miller has received from the community. “It’s been so positive all around on such a negative situation.”

A GoFundMe page was created to cover the loss of Miller’s watch. It has raised $5,795 of the $10,000 goal as of Thursday afternoon.

“So many people have called to show support. People were calling asking what they could do,” Dixon said. “They wanted to put money together to buy him a new watch.”

Passersby and lifeguards team up to rescue dog stranded on a buoy

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Fernando Haro is the Long Beach Post's breaking news and public safety reporter.
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