The Detective: A newborn is abandoned in Downtown

A rundown of recent criminal activity in Los Angeles

Illustration of a sad baby



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 March 1-7, 2021. 


? Under California’s “Safe Surrender” law, parents who feel they cannot care for a newborn can legally give up the child at a hospital or fire station, with no questions asked. However, instances of child abandonment—which is against the law—are still reported. On March 3, according to the Los Angeles Police Department, officers responded to a call of a newborn who was left on the street in Downtown, on the 700 block of East Eighth Street. According to police, the parent was experiencing homelessness. No arrest has been made. 


Since the LAPD made its data publicly available in 2010, the code for child abandonment has been used 108 times. The most recent previous case of child abandonment was in October. 


? There has been a spate of impersonation calls recently, and now the Detective has uncovered another one. On March 5, an individual impersonating a contractor entered a home in the Lake Balboa neighborhood. During the incident, the suspect took unspecified property belonging to a 58-year-old woman. According to police, the woman had met the suspect during a brief encounter or date. No arrest has been made and no additional details were available. 


The code for “suspect impersonates contractor” has been used 40 times in the last seven years. The incident on March 5 is the second of its kind in 2021, and the first in Lake Balboa. 


? Crimes related to “ritual/occult” bring to mind a host of terrifying images from horror films. On March 6, police responded to calls about a case of animal cruelty in Lincoln Heights. Details are thin, but according to police, at some point an unidentified individual stabbed a 34-year-old woman at the scene. 


Since 2010, the code for “crime related to ritual/occult” has been used 43 times. The March 6 incident is the second in Lincoln Heights, following one in 2017. 


?  A 69-year-old man was tied up by his son at a home in Eagle Rock on the evening of March 6, in an incident the LAPD has designated as false imprisonment. A police report said the suspect used tape to restrain the elderly man. It is unclear what led to the incident. 


The code for “tape/electrical” as the type of binding has been used 127 times since 2010. Seven of these incidents involved victims who were over the age of 60 or described by police “blind/physically disabled/unable to care for themselves.” 


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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