The Detective: A robbery outside a cannabis shop

A rundown of recent criminal activity in Los Angeles

Illustration of a man walking by a pot dispensary


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 July 19-25, 2021. 


? Marijuana dispensaries have sprouted across Los Angeles, so it should be no surprise that, like other retail sectors, they have drawn a degree of crime. One incident occurred on July 20, when a 30-year-old man leaving a Downtown cannabis shop was approached by an unidentified individual. According to the Los Angeles Police Department, the man was robbed of unspecified property. 


Since recreational marijuana was legalized in California in November 2016, there have been 95 crimes reported at or outside a cannabis shop, according to LAPD data. The last time a customer was targeted occurred last August in Mid-Wilshire.


? Train operators feel the pressure of driving huge vehicles, but on July 20 one man in Boyle Heights experienced something that usually does not come with the job. At the Pico/Aliso station on the L line (formerly the Gold Line), a 57-year-old operator was kicked by an individual on the train platform. According to the LAPD, the operator knew the person responsible.


Five crimes have been reported on the L line since the LAPD made its data publicly available in 2010, though this was the first incident at the Pico/Aliso station. Crime on public transit remains below pre-pandemic levels, with 153 incidents in July 2021, compared with 216 in July 2019.


? Disputes happen in households and sometimes escalate to dangerous levels. They become even more troubling when a minor is involved. On July 19, a 31-year-old foster parent in Florence reported that a foster child aimed a gun at them. It remains unclear what led to the altercation. The child also bit the victim.


This marks the first time an LAPD report has involved a foster child aiming a gun. Since 2010, foster parents have been the victim of 23 crimes, but only 10 involved a foster child as the aggressor.


? Robberies in Los Angeles increased in July compared with the prior month. One incident was particularly unusual: On July 22, a 29-year-old man walking to his car in a Wilmington parking lot was approached by an individual. Details are sparse, but the assailant managed to tie up the man with either bed sheets or linens. The suspect demanded unspecified valuables, then sped off with another driver. 


This type of laundry isn’t the typical choice for bindings in crime. Only seven robberies have taken place where a suspect used bed sheets or linens to incapacitate a victim. The last time this tactic was used in a parking lot was in Boyle Heights in January 2013.


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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