The Detective: Los Angeles protest edition

Anomalous LAPD crime reports from May 29 - June 2
Illustration of police at protests


Although the vast majority of protests after George Floyd’s death at the hands of Minneapolis police were peaceful, overall crime in LA spiked between May 29 – June 2 as tensions between protesters and police boiled over.


Here are a couple of recent anomalies in Los Angeles Police Department data found by the Detective, our data-crawling robot, and aggregated by the robot’s human assistant, Nisha Venkat. 


? At 6:36 p.m. on May 30, when protests were intensifying across LA, a particularly expensive case of felony arson was reported in Fairfax. A very well-covered suspect wearing “a mask, a hoodie, gloves and shoes” caused $25,000 worth of damage to property. Police have video surveillance of the event, according to their data, but the investigation is still ongoing. 


? Burglary might be a common crime in LA, but the Detective flagged 263 reports on May 30. That’s nearly five times the number of burglaries that took place on May 24, and an all-time high so far in 2020.


In one medical marijuana business in Beverly Grove, a suspect wearing a hoodie and a mask added insult to injury by vandalizing the store and taking their weed. In another report of burglary in Fairfax, a wardrobe bandit forced their way into a clothing store and stole clothes or jewelry.


These burglaries occurred on the same day that due to “civil unrest” Gov. Gavin Newsom declared a state of emergency in Los Angeles County and in the City of Los Angeles.


? At 9:24 p.m. on June 1 in Adams-Normandie, a suspect shot at a police officer with a pistol. No contact was made, and the suspect was arrested. The LAPD classified the incident as “assault with a deadly weapon against a police officer.” The victim was targeted “based on their employment.”


Although counts of assault with a deadly weapon against a police officer increased after Floyd’s death on May 25, there are just five records since then of firearms being used against a police officer as of publication time. The vast majority of weapons in these crime reports were described as “unknown/other weapon.”


? Reports of vandalism also skyrocketed during the protests, reaching a peak on Friday May 29 with 97 incidents logged– four times the number of incidents on May 24, the day before Floyd was killed.


But even as protesters’ frustration reached a fever pitch in LA, an entirely different kind of dispute was happening between a landlord and a tenant in a single family dwelling at 6:30 pm on May 29 in Reseda


According to LAPD data, a juvenile suspect vandalized his landlord’s property and caused over $400 worth of damage. The suspect then apologized to his 82-year-old landlord. A toy gun was used at some point in the altercation.


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.


Questions about our data? Write to us at