The Detective: An unlucky block for parked cars

A rundown of recent criminal activity in Los Angeles

Illustration of stolen cars with cut-outs


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 Dec. 21-Dec. 27, 2020. 


?  A 38-year-old man was the victim of an unusual attempted robbery in North Hollywood on Dec. 21. Details are thin, but according to the Los Angeles Police Department, an unidentified individual, who was pretending to be blind, walked up behind the victim, grabbed and pushed him as part of an effort to take unspecified property. The suspect then fled the scene. Since the LAPD made its data publicly available in 2010, the code for a suspect pretending to be blind has been used 59 times. 


? Police calls involving laser pointers were on the rise in December, with two additional incidents reported in the South Los Angeles neighborhood of Green Meadows on Dec. 24. According to the LAPD, someone was pointing a laser at passing planes. When police arrived, the individual attacked the officers. This followed a Dec. 8 call in East Hollywood in which an individual also directed a laser pointer at a plane. Since 2010, the code for “suspect points laser at plane/helicopter” has been employed 58 times. 


?  The Detective flagged a curious spike in stolen vehicles in Playa Vista. On Dec. 27, five cars were reported stolen from the 11900 block of Jefferson Boulevard. The thefts appear to be part of a trend in vehicle thefts on the street that began on Nov. 23, and continued with three additional thefts on Dec. 23. Details about the victims and suspects from the Dec. 27 incidents were not available. 


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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