The Detective: The mailbox goes boom

A rundown of recent criminal activity in Los Angeles

Illustration of a mailbox with a lit fuse


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 Oct. 25-31, 2021. 


🔎 Everyone is used to dropping a letter in the mailbox and then forgetting about it. That wasn’t the case in Westlake. On Oct. 27, a 34-year-old man was in his home when he heard a loud sound outside. He rushed out to find that a mailbox had been blown up. 


According to Los Angeles Police Department publicly accessible data, the man knew the person who bombed the mailbox. Since 2010, there have been 60 incidents in the city of mailbox bombing.


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🔎 It wasn’t a fire drill that stopped classes for a Florence high school on Oct. 25. Instead, according to the LAPD, a 24-year-old woman’s former romantic partner broke onto the property, causing an alarm. Although she had secured a restraining order against the ex-boyfriend, he proceeded to stalk the woman.


Since 2010, the LAPD has responded to 51 school disruption incidents. This marks the first time that an intimate partner was the responsible party.


🔎 A promise to return a stolen item usually ends with a thank you and smiles. That was not the case recently in the neighborhood of Green Meadows. At around 1:30 a.m. on Oct. 29, a couple in their 20s met an individual who said they would return pilfered property. Details of precisely what transpired are slim, but during the encounter the individual pulled out a gun and threatened to kill the couple.


There have been 44 incidents of people pretending to return something that was stolen, according to the LAPD. This is the first time a situation has escalated to be classified as assault with a deadly weapon.


🔎 A 26-year-old woman had a disturbing start to her day on Oct. 28. She was in the driveway at her Hyde Park home shortly before 8 a.m. when she was approached by an individual. Exactly what happened is unclear, but during the encounter the person demanded that she transfer money, and threatened to hurt her or her family if she did not comply. The woman ultimately did a wire transfer of an undisclosed amount of money. According to the LAPD, the suspect was involved in an organized crime deal tied to drugs. The incident was also labeled as extortion.


Organized crime has only made it onto the LAPD’s radar 40 times in the last decade.


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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