The Detective: A spate of ugly hate crimes continues

A rundown of recent criminal activity in Los Angeles

Illustration of a lantern with a candle


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. 22-Feb. 28, 2021. 


?  There has been another hate crime in Los Angeles. On Feb. 25, a Buddhist temple in the Downtown neighborhood of Little Tokyo was vandalized in what police are describing as an act of arson and property damage motivated by anti-Buddhist discrimination. A prepared statement from the temple’s bishop said an unidentified suspect climbed over a fence and set fire to lantern stands before damaging the entrance. No one was injured during the attack.


Since the Los Angeles Police Department made its data publicly available in 2010, the code for “Bias: Anti-Buddhist” has only been used four times. Prior to this incident, the most recent crime report involving anti-Buddhist bias was filed in December 2019. 


?  Yet another disturbing hate crime was reported, this time at a restaurant in Hollywood. According to the LAPD, on Feb. 25 a 55-year-old man was attacked by an unidentified suspect who twisted his arm and knocked him to the ground. Police described the incident as motivated by anti-Arab discrimination, and racial slurs were uttered. 


The code for crime related to “Bias: Anti-Arab” has been used 11 times in the past decade. There have been two other incidents this year. 


?  Four vehicle-related criminal incidents were reported in Hancock Park on Feb. 27, making it the single-highest day for this type of crime in the neighborhood since June 2019. According to the LAPD, the incidents included a car that was stolen from the 5100 block of Wilshire Blvd., as well as three vehicle break-ins. The crimes occurred at various locations including parking lots, an underground parking structure and a garage. 


The Detective flagged an incident involving a firearms restraining order in Valley Glen on Feb. 24. Such an order prevents an individual from owning or buying guns, ammunition and magazines. Further details about the incident and whether the restraining order was being issued to or violated by the suspect were unavailable. The crime code for firearms restraining orders has only been used four times in Los Angeles, with the most recent occurring in March 2020. 


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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