The Detective: A fake doctor attacks

A rundown of recent criminal activity in Los Angeles

Illustration of a stethoscope


Here are some 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 Feb. 15-Feb. 21, 2021. 


?  A 41-year-old woman was assaulted and robbed at a laundromat in the neighborhood of Vermont Vista on Feb. 16. According to the Los Angeles Police Department, a suspect, who was identified as a prostitute, hurled profanities at the victim and proceeded to shove and hit her with a weapon. During the altercation, multiple suspects overwhelmed the victim and robbed her. No arrest was made and it is unclear what led to the confrontation. Since the LAPD made its data publicly available in 2010, there have been 205 reported robberies at laundromats across the city. The recent incident is the fourth reported robbery at a laundromat in Vermont Vista.


?  On Feb. 19, the community of Vermont Knolls recorded its highest daily number of crimes since July 2017, with 16 incidents reported. The tally includes eight criminal threats, two stolen cars and one attempted robbery. One-half of the day’s incidents occurred at apartment buildings. According to police, the youngest victim was a 4-year-old girl and the oldest was a 43-year-old woman, both of whom were victims of a criminal threat. Of the 16 incidents, only one has resulted in an arrest. 


?  The Detective flagged yet another case of impersonation, this time in Cypress Park. On Feb. 18, an unidentified individual attempted to impersonate a doctor. Details are thin, but according to the police report, after meeting with the faux medical professional in a vacant lot, multiple suspects overwhelmed the victim, robbed him and then fled the scene. No arrest has been made. Since the LAPD made its data publicly available, the code for “suspect impersonates doctor” has been used 47 times. 


Hate crimes spiked in Los Angeles last year, and have continued to rise in 2021. On Feb. 21, a 19-year-old man was the victim of a hate crime in Hyde Park. According to police, the victim reported that his car, parked on a residential street, had been vandalized with graffiti. The man was targeted based on his sexual orientation, according to the LAPD. This is the department’s only reported use of the code for crime related to “Bias: Anti-Bisexual.” 


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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