Reports of rape in LA show decline so far this year

Data reveal a 20% drop during first nine months

The number of rapes reported in the City of Los Angeles fell more than 20% during the first nine months of 2019 compared with the same time period last year.


From Jan. 1 – Sept. 30, 2019, there were 723 reported rapes, down 22% from 926 reported during the first nine months of 2018, according to publicly available LAPD crime data


Of the rape victims in the first nine months of the year, 707 were female, seven were male and nine victims had no information on their sex.


There was one victim as young as three years old. Child victims ranged in age from three to 18. 


These numbers likely don’t reflect the total incidents that took place, as rape is one of the most underreported crimes. Nationwide, some groups say only about one quarter of rapes are reported, meaning about 75% of rapes and sexual assaults are not reported to the police. One research organization explicitly declines to analyze trends in sexual assault in their crime reports because of the low reporting rates. Survivors say they worry about retaliation from the perpetrator and society, some say police would not do anything to help and some say they didn’t think the rape was important enough to report. 


In the City of Los Angeles, for the past nine years, the number of reported rapes has fluctuated, hovering around 1,000 per year since 2010, when the LAPD started making its data publicly available. The years 2016 and 2017 had the highest numbers of reported rapes with 1,336 and 1,335, respectively. 


So far this year, there have also been declines in the two other forced sex crime categories in LAPD data.


The first is what the LAPD calls “sexual penetration with a foreign object,” which the department defines as using an “object or instrument” to penetrate the genital or anal opening of another person against the person’s will. The department records this crime separately from rape.


From Jan. 1 – Sept. 30, 2019, there were 218 reports of “sexual penetration with a foreign object,” compared with 303 at this time last year, a decrease of nearly 40%. However the longer-term trend in the city shows an increasing trend. In 2010, there were 131 reports, while in 2018 there were 393.


For the other forcible sex crime, “sodomy,” there was also a slight decline in the first six months of this year compared with the same period last year. According to the LAPD, sodomy is oral or anal sexual intercourse with a penis against a person’s will.


There were 97 reported crimes of sodomy for the first half of this year, compared with 132 reported during the first nine months of last year, a decrease of 36%. This year, there were 53 female victims and 44 male victims.


The general trend in forcible sodomy is a slight rise since 2010, the earliest year for which data is publicly available. There was a nine year low in 2013, with 113 reports, and a high in 2016, with 177 reports. Last year, there were 164 sodomy crimes reported.


From 2010 – 2018, there were 654 male victims, 653 female victims, three victims of unknown sex and two cases where the victim’s sex information was left blank in the data.


How we did it: We examined publicly available LAPD data on “forcible sex crimes,” which include rape, attempted rape, penetration with a foreign object and sodomy. For neighborhood boundaries, we rely on the borders defined by the Los Angeles Times. Learn more about our data here.


LAPD data only reflects 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. The LAPD periodically updates past crime reports with new information, leading the department to recategorize past reports. 


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