Mixed findings on robberies in Los Angeles

The number of incidents is down this year, but shootings are soaring

Illustration of handgun


An armed robbery at Il Pastaio in Beverly Hills last week that left one woman injured with a gunshot and a man without a nearly $500,000 watch has Angelenos buzzing. The incident occurred as reports of shootings in the city of Los Angeles are up by nearly 90% in the first two months of the year. 


Although the brazen crime sparked widespread worry, robberies in the city are actually down in 2021. There were 1,245 robberies during the first eight weeks of the year, a nearly 10% decrease from the 1,380 reported during the same time in 2020, according to publicly available data from the Los Angeles Police Department


Robberies in Los Angeles, Jan.-Feb., 2021 vs. 2020

Graph of robbery figures in 2021 and 2020


But that decrease also comes with a caveat. LAPD Assistant Chief Beatrice Girmala told a March 2 meeting of the Los Angeles Police Commission that the department is seeing a “disturbing” number of people being shot during robbery attempts.   


Through March 1, 2020, said Girmala, “We had one instance of a victim being shot. In 2021, we have 18 such instances.” 


Girmala said 14 of the incidents where a person was shot occurred on the street. She said two were attributed to gang-related activity.


Robberies in a place of business are up 81% compared to the same time period last year. Incidents on the street or sidewalk accounted for 46% of all robberies reported during the first eight weeks of the year, though each is occurring less frequently than in 2020. 


Those being targeted include street vendors across the city. Girmala said there has been an uptick in the Rampart Division, which covers MacArthur Park, a longtime hub of street vending activity. People of color make up 80% of vendors. The city saw a 337% rise in incidents reported to police from 2010-2019.


“We truly believe that street vending is seen as an underground economy, where people may be hesitant to report these instances and are probably not reporting as we wish they would due to fear of gang populations taxing them or immigration status,” she said. 


Girmala said police plan to work with people in the neighborhood in the effort to develop a better relationship with the street vending community, hoping that will make vendors more comfortable reporting robberies and other crimes.


Pico-Union, south of MacArthur Park, was the site of 30 robberies in the first eight weeks of the year, an 87.5% increase from the 16 during the same time in 2020. Another hot spot is Boyle Heights, where the 38 robberies represent a 46% increase from the 26 reported during the same time last year. 


Neighborhoods with the most robberies in 2021, compared to 2020

Table of neighborhoods with most robberies in 2021


Suspects most frequently used bodily force during robberies in the first eight weeks of the year, making up 41% of all reported incidents. There were 40 incidents where a suspect simulated a gun that didn’t exist. Thirty-nine people committed a robbery by making a verbal threat.


There were 739 male victims, compared with 305 female victims. 


How we did it: We examined publicly available crime data and from the Los Angeles Police Department from Jan. 3-Feb. 27, 2021, compared with Jan. 5-Feb. 29, 2020. 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.