The Detective: A rideshare turns into an attempted kidnapping

A rundown of recent criminal activity in Los Angeles

Illustration of a rideshare driver with a passenger


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, Taylor Mills. This period covers May 3-9, 2021. 


? In Los Angeles, there tends to be approximately 200 attempted kidnappings each year, according to Los Angeles Police Department data. An incident on May 7 stood out in that a rideshare driver tried to kidnap a 37-year-old woman as she headed to her home in Brentwood. The driver sought to grab the victim and carry her away, but the attempt was, fortunately, unsuccessful. 


This marks the second kidnapping involving a rideshare driver this year. Since 2017, the LAPD has reported 11 rideshare kidnapping incidents. In every case, the victim was a  woman. This was just the third kidnapping attempt in three years in Brentwood.


? Vandalism involving a vehicle is not uncommon in Los Angeles. An incident on May 7 in the Vermont-Slauson neighborhood was different, as it happened at a restaurant drive-thru. The encounter occurred at an intersection with a fast food franchise on every corner, and unspecified damage was done to a 23-year-old man’s car. Since the LAPD made its data publicly available in 2010, there have only been 54 crimes recorded at drive-thrus.


Interestingly, this incident bore similarities to a previous encounter. On Oct. 5, 2019, a woman at the same location reported her car being vandalized at a drive-thru. 


? In April, Los Angeles recorded 62 hate crimes, the highest monthly tally in at least a decade. The troubling trend continues, as a robbery was logged as a hate incident in the Adams-Normandie neighborhood on May 7. According to a crime alert sent out to the University of Southern California community, an unidentified individual commented on a student’s sexual orientation, then grabbed his necklace and ran off. 


Since the LAPD made its data publicly available in 2010, there have only been seven robberies designated with hatred or prejudice motivations. The LAPD has reported 29 hate incidents based on a victim’s sexual orientation in 2021.


? Battery incidents frequently involve a single victim. An ugly situation unfolded at a home in Vermont Square on May 5, when police responded to a battery call with five victims, including two children. The suspect, who knew the victims, threatened to kill a 6-year-old girl and shoved other people in the household. 


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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