The Detective: The fake mustache and the street vendor

A rundown of recent criminal activity in Los Angeles

Illustration of a masked, partly hidden man


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 June 14-20, 2021. 


🔎 Street vendors sometimes have to deal with rowdy late-night customers, but criminals in disguise are not usually in the mix. Yet that was the case on June 18 for a vendor in the South L.A. neighborhood of Vermont-Slauson. The person was plying their trade when approached by a man wearing a fake mustache. The faux-’stache wearer then pulled out a gun and demanded money.


There have been only 28 reports of a suspect utilizing a fake mustache to conceal their identity since the Los Angeles Police Department made its data publicly available in 2010. The last time this disguise was noted in a crime was last summer in Wilmington.


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🔎 A good samaritan offering roadside assistance became the victim of a robbery in Mission Hills. On June 19, an individual with supposed car troubles flagged down a 22-year-old man for help. When the man stepped out of his vehicle, the person with purported auto trouble turned the tables. Details are thin, but somehow the assailant forced the man to drive to an ATM and withdraw money.


The year 2021 accounts for the highest number of ATM crimes on record, according to the LAPD; there have been 247 so far, compared to 178 in the entirety of 2020. 


🔎 Opening time for businesses can be an opportune moment for criminals seeking to avoid customers who could be witnesses. That is what happened around 6 a.m. on June 16. As the owner of a store in Vermont-Slauson approached their business, an unidentified individual appeared in the parking lot. The assailant pulled out a gun and proceeded to take unspecified property from the shop. 


This marks the second time a business owner opening their property was robbed this year. However, this is the first robbery of its kind to happen in Vermont-Slauson, according to the LAPD.


🔎 Tourists are returning to Los Angeles, which means more business for people renting out rooms or homes through Airbnb or another platform. However, there has always been a level of crime at these ventures, and another one occurred in Westlake on June 18. Details are slim, but according to the LAPD, perpetrators stole more than $950 worth of property from a home owned by a 39-year-old woman. Crimes of this ilk had trended down during the early part of the pandemic.


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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