The Detective: a roommate dispute and crime on the streets

A rundown of recent criminal activity in Los Angeles

illustration of woman under streetlight


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, Catherine Orihuela. This period covers Nov. 15-29, 2020. 


A 2-year-old girl was the target of an attempted kidnapping in Koreatown on Nov. 20. There are no details about who was with the youth at the time, but according to police, an individual grabbed and tried to carry the child away from a spot near Metro’s Wilshire/Vermont station. The attempt was thwarted and the individual was arrested. Since the LAPD made its data publicly available in 2010, the code “suspect attempts to carry victim away” has been used 154 times. However, only 11 of those incidents involved a victim under the age of 5. 


Roommates are bound to disagree, but usually the disputes are verbal. On Nov. 20, a man in a Tarzana apartment building threatened to kill two men and two women he lived with. The suspect attacked one of them, a 26-year-old man, with a kitchen knife. Police said that the suspect also vandalized the apartment. There are no details as to what caused the confrontation. 


Police responded to a home in Hyde Park on Nov. 15 to investigate a case of child neglect. According to a police report, the suspect, identified as the children’s stepmother, struck five victims, all of whom were 6-13 years old. It is unclear if social services or other authorities also responded to the scene, but we can hope that someone was called. 


A 43-year-old Venice resident had a frightening encounter on Nov. 17. The man was at home when, according to police, a person experiencing homelessness broke into the residence. Details are thin, but somehow the burglar forced the man to withdraw money. The code “got victim to withdraw savings” has been used 191 times by the LAPD in the last decade.


Los Angeles has seen hate crimes spike this year. Another one was reported in Venice on Nov. 23. According to police, an unidentified suspect strong-armed the victim, a 35-year-old lesbian, on the sidewalk. The woman was targeted based on her sexual orientation, according to the LAPD. The code for crime related to “Bias: Anti-Lesbian” has only been used 16 times. 


On Nov. 25, a 23-year-old woman was sexually assaulted at a motel in Mid-City. The suspect, who police said was dressed as a costumed character, and also was identified as an acquaintance of the victim, forced her to have sex and sexually penetrated her with a foreign object. The police code for “costumed character” has only been used 13 times in the last five years. 


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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