The Detective: Breaking into a coin machine

A rundown of recent criminal activity in Los Angeles

Illustration of a coin machine being broken into


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 21-27, 2021. 


🔎 When it comes to avoiding crime, people are advised to always be aware of their surroundings, even if the location seems low-risk. That was the experience for a 75-year-old man who pulled into a parking garage in Westchester at 8:15 p.m. on June 22. As the man exited his vehicle he was ambushed by multiple individuals. At least one wielded a gun and they demanded the man’s jewelry. Unspecified property was taken before the assailants sped off.


The Los Angeles Police Department has reported only four jewelry robberies in carports or garages since it began making its data publicly available in 2010. The last time a similar robbery occurred was on Jan. 31 in Bel Air.  


🔎 Since the onset of the pandemic, cash has often taken the backseat as a payment form, but that hasn’t stopped criminals from targeting ATMs or coin machines. In Toluca Lake, an unidentified individual managed to take more than $950 from a coin machine owned by a 30-year-old man. 


Grand theft reports from coin machines are rare, as only 52 incidents have been tallied by the LAPD since 2010. This marks the third case in 2021, with the last theft at this scale happening on April 26.


🔎 Robberies are a store owner’s worst nightmare. An incident at a tobacco shop in Panorama City proved especially fraught for the 52-year-old employee opening the business on the morning of June 25. An individual entered the shop brandishing a handgun, then threatened the man and ordered him to a back room. Unspecified property was taken from the store.


While the Detective picked up on two unique robberies this week, it is important to note that cases are still well below pre-pandemic levels. In June the LAPD reported 508 robberies, a drop from the 697 during the same period in 2019. 


🔎 The distressing run of hate crimes in Los Angeles continues. One of the most recent incidents occurred shortly after noon on June 23 in Vermont Knolls. Two women were approached by a stranger on the street. Although details are thin, the LAPD reports that the person pushed them and made vulgar remarks about their citizenship status and race. 


Only four crimes have been reported with anti-citizenship status bias, though three have been recorded within the past six months. 


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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