The Detective: Crime at an eyeglasses shop

A rundown of recent criminal activity in Los Angeles

detective with microscope illustration


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 Nov. 15-21, 2021. 


🔎 People visit the optometrist to choose snazzy new frames for their eyeglasses. Recently, a thief made the same trip, though with a different purpose. On Nov. 15, an unidentified individual entered an optical office housed inside a Hollywood supermarket. The person grabbed unspecified items and sought to leave without paying. When a security guard intervened, the person pulled out a weapon, then escaped.


Only 154 crimes have been reported inside optical offices since the Los Angeles Police Department began making its data publicly available in 2010. In the first 11 months of this year, more than 1,000 shoplifting incidents have escalated to robberies, and LAPD data counts 1,089 instances in which an individual brandished a weapon or used force against a security guard. 


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🔎 An opening shift turned nightmarish for an employee of a fast food taco restaurant in San Pedro. On Nov. 15, while the worker was preparing the establishment for opening, an individual entered the restaurant. The assailant pulled out an unspecified weapon and threatened the employee, demanding that they open the cash register.


According to the LAPD, in the last decade 53 restaurants have been targeted for crime around opening time. This specific establishment has been the site of six robberies (at various times of the day) since 2010.


🔎 A 33-year-old man living in an East Hollywood apartment building recently experienced a troubling encounter. On Nov. 15, an individual, who had been served with a restraining order, entered the victim’s residence. Details are slim, but in the course of the event the man was assaulted. 


So far in November, the LAPD has responded to 416 complaints of a crime committed by someone who has been served with a restraining order. 


🔎 The Detective picked up a lot of unusual robberies this week, which is not surprising, as robberies have been increasing across the city, and LAPD officials have said that guns are frequently being used. The recent spate of crime includes an incident on Nov. 15 in a Downtown shopping district. A 46-year-old man was leaving a business area when he was approached by an unknown individual. The person demanded property other than money—it is unclear if this was jewelry, though that has been the target in many street crimes—and threatened the man’s life if he didn’t comply. According to police, a driver was waiting nearby, allowing the thief to flee the scene.


This Downtown incident is one of 212 times in which a person has been targeted leaving a business area since 2010. In November, the LAPD reported 820 robberies in Los Angeles.


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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