Car break-ins down in first six months in LA

One of the city's major public nuisances shows signs of easing


Are thieves getting lazier, or have they seen the error of their ways? Reports of theft from vehicles, one of the most common crimes in the city, are down in the first half of 2019. 


There were 15,639 reports of thefts from vehicles from Jan. 1 – June 30, 2019 in the City of Los Angeles. During the same period in 2018, there were 16,667 reports, a decrease of 6.1%.


The neighborhoods of Downtown, Hollywood and Koreatown had the most incidents theft from vehicle during the first half of 2019, just as they did for the first half of 2018. Though, good news for residents of Downtown and Koreatown, the crime was down from this time last year by 5.2% and 11.9%, respectively. 


Hollywood had a nearly 8% increase this year compared with the first six months of last year.

Yet when Hollywood resident Danny Finn’s car was broken into, it wasn’t in his neighborhood.  


The Aelonia band frontman was shopping in the middle of the afternoon on March 4 in Atwater Village, which had only 29 reported cases of car break-ins (including his) in the first half of 2019. When he returned to his 2017 Honda Civic, he found his window smashed. 


“My initial thought was shock, and you feel like your security and privacy were violated,” Finn said. Of the $300 out-of-pocket costs, he added, “It sucks.”


He was able to get a thumb drive from a nearby retail store that contained video footage of the break-in. 


From the footage, he saw two suspects drive up in their car and park next to his. A woman hopped out, smashed one of his car windows and took a small black toiletries bag from underneath the passenger seat. Then, she got back into her own car, and she and her driver zoomed away. 


But when he gave the thumb drive to the desk officer at the police station, the officer asked for the footage on a CD instead, said Finn. Twenty-seven-year-old Finn, who left the thumb drive with the officer, said he was shocked that the police are still using disks.


“I expect to never hear back from detectives despite giving them the license plate, footage of the crime, pictures and an accurate description of the car down to the color and model,” Finn said. “If a detective can’t figure out how to open a thumb drive on a computer, how is he going to solve a case of personal theft and damages?”


As it turns out, LAPD detectives are actively working on the case. 


“There is no correlation between working a thumb drive and solving crime in Los Angeles” said Josh Rubenstein, the public information director for the LAPD. “We have seasoned detectives.” 


He said the detectives managed to transfer the data onto a CD and are investigating the crime. He also said the department is encouraged that thefts from vehicles are down in the first six months of the year


Elsewhere in the City of Los Angeles, Studio City residents will be relieved to know their neighborhood dropped from number nine on our list for the first six months of 2018, to number 16 for the first six months of 2019. 


However, the Mid-Wilshire neighborhood went from the 23rd spot during the first half of 2018 to the ninth spot in the first half of 2019, with 282 break-ins during the first six months of 2019, up from 172 break-ins during the same period, an increase of 63.9%.




How we did it: We examined LAPD publicly available data on reports of theft from vehicle, burglary from vehicle, as well as attempted thefts and burglary from vehicles for the first half of 2019, which revealed a decrease in incidents from the same time period last year. For neighborhood boundaries, we rely on the borders defined by the Los Angeles Times. Learn more about our data here.


LAPD data only reflect crimes that are reported to the department, not how many crimes actually occurred. In making our calculations, we rely on the data the LAPD makes publicly available. On occasion, LAPD may update past crime reports with new information, or recategorize past reports. Those revised reports do not always automatically become part of the public database.


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