When the cops are called on Thanksgiving Day

During the holiday, crime reports between relatives and acquaintances rises by more than 50%

Illustration of strained family


The holidays can bring families together. Or tear them apart. On Thanksgiving, the chances of being a victim of a crime perpetrated by a member of your own family or someone you know rise by more than 50%. 


The number of crimes in which the victim was related to or knew the suspect made up nearly 27% of all crimes reported last Thanksgiving. That’s a 54% rise when compared with the three week period preceding Thanksgiving. From Nov. 1 – 21 last year, crimes involving suspects who knew the victim made up only 17.5% of reports, according to Los Angeles Police Department data. That included nuclear family members, but also stepparents, current or former boyfriends, girlfriends, spouses, acquaintances and friends.


Crime on Thanksgiving more likely to be committed by relative or acquaintance

Chart displaying percent of crimes from family or acquaintance on Thanksgiving


“This specific time of year comes with additional stressors of limited finances, long-distance travel, and children not in school,” said David Sedghi, a marriage and family therapist and professor of psychology at Los Angeles City College. “Coupled with a family experience that involves polarized political discourse, long-forgotten family-sibling rivalries, and increased alcohol consumption, the potentiality for family violence seems ripe.” 


Sedghi warned this year’s holiday will be further strained by the underlying challenges that come with the pandemic.


Still, the majority of crimes on Thanksgiving did not involve someone the victim knew. Last year, burglaries from homes and cars made up 19.5% of all crimes. Burglaries around the holidays tend to rise because people are doing Christmas shopping and traveling. 


Vandalism made up 10% of reports last Thanksgiving, compared with 8.6% of crimes that occurred between Nov. 1-21 last year. Assaults from an intimate partner, also known as domestic abuse, made up nearly 10% of crime reports, up from 6% during the Nov. 1-21 period. 


Nearly 9% of the reports involved a stolen vehicle, as opposed to 7.5% from Nov. 1-21, 2019.  


There were other crimes reported last year as well, such as violating restraining orders, child abuse and even one incident of extortion. The use of hands, fists, feet, and other bodily force was the biggest weapon used to carry out these crimes on Thanksgiving Day last year.


Breakdown of offenses committed on Thanksgiving Day 2019

Pie chart of crimes that happen on Thanksgiving




There were a total of 425 incidents reported on Thanksgiving Day last year, a 24.5% drop from 563 in 2018. Crimes that happen on Thanksgiving have decreased since 2017, when there were 586 reports. With many Thanksgiving festivities going virtual and people opting to Zoom or Facetime, crimes could see another decrease this year as well. 



The Centers for Disease Control are asking people to refrain from travel this Thanksgiving due to surging cases of COVID-19. Despite the CDC’s warnings, more than 1 million people passed through US airports on Friday, according to CNN


How we did it: We examined publicly available crime data from the  Los Angeles Police Department from Thanksgiving Day from 2017-2019.  


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. 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.


Want to know how your neighborhood fares? Or simply just interested in our data? Email us at askus@xtown.la.