The Detective: The contractor was an impostor

A rundown of recent criminal activity in Los Angeles

Illustration of a seeming con artist


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 Aug. 9-15, 2021. 


🔎 Not every home renovation proceeds as smoothly as the ones seen on HGTV. A 64-year-old man thought he had hired a contractor to do work on his residence in Rancho Park, but the Aug. 12 transaction turned out to be a scam. The Los Angeles Police Department classified it as a case of grand theft, and although the amount of money handed over was not specified, the individual impersonating a renovator walked away with a down payment of more than $950.


This marks the 10th time a person impersonating a contractor has committed grand theft since the LAPD began making its data publicly available. The most recent previous incident occurred last November.


🔎 The number of anti-Semitic hate crimes in Los Angeles in the first half of 2021 was 59% higher than during the same timeframe last year. Now another center of Jewish life has been targeted. On Aug. 9, a synagogue in Beverly Grove was vandalized. A 79-year-old man discovered the damage and contacted police. 


Since the LAPD made its data publicly available in 2010, there have been 64 felony vandalism incidents reported at a synagogue. The 11 in the past seven months compares with six from January-July of 2020.


🔎 A disturbing incident took place on Aug. 9 in a Beverlywood home. An unidentified individual broke into the residence, tied up a 50-year-old man, and aimed a gun at him before ransacking the property and taking unspecified items.


Since 2010, 27 robberies have occurred in this neighborhood, with eight involving a gun, according to LAPD data.


🔎 Any individual demanding money can be intimidating, but the situation escalates when it involves a member of law enforcement. On Aug. 10, according to the LAPD, a police officer approached a 40-year-old man at his apartment building in Echo Park. Details are thin, but during the encounter the officer demanded money from the man. 


This is the first time since at least 2010 that the LAPD has reported an officer committing extortion. Overall, there have only been 44 crimes in which a suspect was identified as a police officer, with the majority of these being battery incidents. 


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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