The Detective: Never trust a door-to-door salesman

Anomalous LAPD crime reports Oct. 28 - Nov. 3, 2019
door to door salesman art
Photo by Ivy Tsang


Here are a couple of recent anomalies in LAPD data found by the Detective, our data-crawling robot, and aggregated by the robot’s human assistant, Kate Lý Johnston.


?Never trust the door-to-door salesmen. At 11 a.m. on Oct. 30, a suspect robbed an old man of over $950 worth of property after impersonating a salesman.


The suspect came to the 77-year-old black male’s apartment on the 22000 block of Burbank Blvd. in Woodland Hills and tricked him before robbing him. The crime was tagged with MO Codes 0701, “Theft: Trick,” and 0117, “Suspect Impersonates a Salesman.”


While theft by trick is pretty common, “Suspect Impersonates a Salesman” is rarely seen in LAPD data. It’s been reported only three times in 2019, and 130 times in total since 2010.


The low level of salesman tricks may be because of the decline of actual door-to-door salesmen in general. Do people even sell things by coming to your door anymore?


In other words, if someone rings your doorbell and they look like they might try to sell you something, be suspicious. Either they’re a thief in disguise, or just a really outdated boomer.


?On Halloween, the kids go crazy! At 11:30 a.m. this Halloween, the detective caught rare Crime Code 880: “Disrupt School.”


A suspect threatened to harm a 40-year-old Hispanic male who worked at a high school on the 3500 block of Farmdale Ave. in Baldwin Hills/Crenshaw. The suspect and victim were also acquaintances, according to LAPD data.


The nature of the threat is unknown, but whatever it was, it was enough to call the police and report a school disruption, which has only happened five times so far in 2019. There have also been only 45 reported school disruptions in total since 2010.


?Footprints? At 12:20 a.m. on Nov. 2, there was a robbery at a liquor store on the 4800 block of Whitsett Ave. in Valley Village. The suspect left behind a pretty unusual piece of evidence.


According to LAPD data, the suspect left footprints in the liquor store –– how these footprints were made, though, is quite unclear. The data shows that the suspect pointed a handgun at the liquor store workers and made them lie down, then jumped the counter to take money.


Footprints haven’t appeared much in crime reports this year. There’s been only one other report of footprints so far in 2019, in a shooting back in July. The cause of those footprints, too, was unclear in the data.


How we did it: At Crosstown, we examine publicly available crime report data from multiple Los Angeles County law enforcement agencies. We have a robot on the team called the Detective that scans the LAPD publicly available data for anomalies. LAPD officers tag most crime reports in their system with MO codes, for “modus operandi,” Latin for operating method or style. The MO codes are shorthand for describing what happened in a crime incident.