The Detective: Job offers and trickery

This week’s rundown of illicit activity includes lewd conduct and a fake mustache

illustration apartment rental crime


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, Kylie Storm. This period covers Sept. 14-20, 2020.


? Like so many facets of society, the world of Airbnbs and other short-term vacation rentals has been turned upside down during the coronavirus epidemic. But one aspect from the past still holds true: crime happens.


On Sept. 14, a vacation rental in Hollywood was burglarized. It is unclear whether the crime was committed by someone who was staying in the unit, as the police report described the suspect as using both bodily force and “lock slip/key/pick” to gain entry. It is also not clear what was taken from the residence that is part of a multi-unit building. The designation “suspect staying at short-term vacation rental” has been used 41 times since the LAPD started making its data publicly available in 2010.


? Jobs during the pandemic can be hard to come by. That said, people seeking work are advised to be cautious when dealing with strangers, as sometimes a job offer is not quite what it seems. The Detective has recently come across a pair of local incidents with the code “suspect offers/solicits employment.”


The first occurred on Sept. 15, when an unidentified person approached a 15-year-old girl in Gramercy Park. The individual apparently offered the girl money, and the police report says the encounter also involved lewd contact and the solicitation of “sex-related acts.” The report says the girl did not know the suspect. An investigation is ongoing. 


Another incident occurred on Sept. 20 in Koreatown. Details are thin, but an unidentified person either offered employment to or asked for work from a 32-year-old woman at or near her home. During the encounter, the suspect, who was a stranger, stole unspecified property belonging to the woman. The incident was described as “theft: trick or device.”


? In August, the Detective came across an incident in which someone wearing a fake mustache stole merchandise from a store in Wilmington. A fake mustache has been utilized in another crime, though this time the encounter was much more dangerous. On Sept. 19 in Boyle Heights, an unidentified individual in a car began pursuing a 27-year-old woman in a different vehicle. The situation escalated, and at some point the suspect pointed a firearm at the woman. The police report listed the incident as a “vehicle to vehicle shooting.” The code “suspect wore mustache-fake” has been used 27 times since 2010.


How we did it: At Crosstown, we examine publicly available crime 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.


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