The Detective: A shocking surge in hate crimes

A rundown of recent criminal activity in Los Angeles

Illustration of two women


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, Lauren Whaley. This period covers July 26–Aug. 1, 2021. 


? A troubling trend continued this week, with 14 hate crimes reported to the Los Angeles Police Department. This includes two incidents with multiple victims. 


At 6:15 p.m. on July 28, on a sidewalk in the Palms neighborhood, a person experiencing homelessness brutally attacked three men with a stick. The suspect, who did not know the victims, was arrested for aggravated assault with a deadly weapon. The assailant targeted the victims – ages 30, 61 and 72 – because of their sexual orientation. The LAPD said the crime was motivated by an Anti-Gay male bias.


The second hate crime with multiple victims occurred at 8:35 p.m. on July 26 on the 1600 block of North Martel Avenue in Hollywood. The suspect and five victims lived in the same apartment complex. The suspect, who used force, threats, racial slurs, spit and punches, targeted the victims – ages 14, 16,  34, 34 and 38 – because of an anti-Hispanic bias.


The other victims in hate crimes this week were targeted by suspects with anti-Jewish, anti-Black, anti-Asian and anti-other religion biases.


The LAPD defines hate crime as “any criminal act or attempted criminal act directed against a person or persons based on the victim’s actual or perceived race, nationality, religion, sexual orientation, disability or gender.”


? The Detective picked up an unusual crime this week: “Shots fired at a moving vehicle, train or aircraft.” This was especially disturbing because one of the victims was an infant and one was 5 years old.


At 1 p.m. near Normandie Avenue and 36th Place in Exposition Park, multiple unidentified individuals aimed a semi-automatic pistol and shot at people in a vehicle. In addition to the baby and child, the other victims were a 29-year-old and a 34-year-old. According to LAPD data, the suspects knew the victims.


? In a crime trend that seems suited for the silver screen, there were two bomb scares this week (there have been 50 this year, according to the LAPD). The first was at 8:07 p.m. on July 27 at the Coliseum in Exposition Park, when an unidentified individual threatened a 20-year-old with a bomb. The LAPD also listed a harassing email along with the in-person intimidation, but details are thin. 


In the second explosives-related scare, a stranger abandoned a suspicious item on a Metro Red line train at the Vermont/Santa Monica station. According to the LAPD, masochism and bondage were part of the incident, though specifics are unclear. In this instance, an adult was arrested.


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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