The Detective: Hold on to that handbag

A rundown of recent criminal activity in Los Angeles

Illustration of a figure in black running with a purse, money flying out, female figure reaching out behind the figure.


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. 16-22, 2021. 


🔎 Computer-use protocols at a Century City business will surely change after a recent costly incident. On Aug. 20, an unidentified individual somehow managed to convince an employee to allow them access to the device. This turned out to be a bunco scheme (the police term for trickery that separates a person from their money or valuables), and unspecified goods were taken. 


Only 18 bunco crimes have involved unauthorized computer access since the LAPD made its data publicly available in 2010. This is the first time this kind of tech-savvy con has been recorded in Century City.


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🔎 Whether it’s an over-the-shoulder piece or a handbag, purses carry lots of valuables and can be tempting targets for thieves. However, a bag-snatching incident in Leimert Park had a twist. On Aug. 18, a 30-year-old woman was approached on the street by a former boyfriend—even though she had filed a restraining order against him. After a tense exchange, the man grabbed her purse and ran off with it.


Typically, purse snatchers are strangers to their victims, and according to police data this was just the 24th time in the last decade that a victim knew the perpetrator. The grab-and-go crime has been on the decline since 2010. There have been only 16 reported purse snatchings so far in 2021.


🔎 A walk home from school became a harrowing experience for a student in Westlake. On Aug. 21, a 15-year-old girl was en route from classes when a stranger attempted to grab her on the street. It is unclear if she knew the assailant. 


This is the seventh attempted kidnapping in Westlake this year. The last time a student was targeted in the area was in August 2019.


🔎 The Dodgers were on the road on Aug. 21, but that didn’t stop a crime from occurring at their stadium in Elysian Park. The details are slim, but according to the LAPD, animal cruelty was witnessed on the property. The type of animal at risk was not revealed.


This is the first time such a crime has been reported at the ballpark. So far in 2021, police have recorded 50 crimes related to animal cruelty, already surpassing the 45 in the entirety of 2020.


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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