The Crosstown Crime Book: May

Los Angeles experiences fewer homicides, but car thefts and burglaries are up

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Public safety in Los Angeles continues to be a front-burner topic, with everything from homicides to the number of police officers sparking widespread debate and discussion. There remains a focus on the question, is the city safer or more dangerous than in the past?


That is difficult to answer, because crime is not uniform: Some categories go up, while others decrease. Ultimately, context is required, and that is where the Crosstown Crime Book comes into play. Each month, we examine crime data the Los Angeles Police Department makes publicly available. We use this information to identify where certain crimes are most prevalent, and explain how the present compares with the past. 


Here is how the numbers in Los Angeles looked in May.


The guns are still out there

Last month there were 28 murders in the city, with three each in Downtown and West Hills. The total is down from 36 the month before. In May 2021 there were 26 killings. 


Monthly homicides in Los Angeles, December 2021–May 2022

Line chart of homicides monthly, May


In the first five months of this year, the LAPD recorded 150 homicides; that compares with 140 in the same timeframe last year, and puts Los Angeles on pace to exceed the total 397 murders in 2021, which was the highest death toll in 14 years.


Gun violence is driving the surge in murders, and there were 283 shots-fired reports in the city in May. Similar to homicides, that is below the number in April, but also more than in the same month in recent years. 


Shots-fired reports in Los Angeles in May, 2018–2022

bar chart of shots fired each May


In May, the LAPD counted 813 robberies, which is in line with figures in the previous five months. Yet robberies are often more dangerous than in the past due to the use of firearms.


“The troubling aspect of it is the guns related in the robberies,” LAPD Chief Michel Moore told the civilian Los Angeles Police Commission at its June 14 meeting. “That continues to be our pressure point.”


There were 175 robberies involving guns in May. Although that is below the recent high of 210 in March, it is far more than in any May going back at least to 2018.


Robberies involving gun in Los Angeles in May, 2018–2022

Bar chart of robberies involving gun, May annual


Moore told the Police Commission that, through June 11, the violent crime rate in Los Angeles was up 8.6% compared with the same period last year. According to LAPD Compstat data, 2021 has brought 13,726 violent crimes, the majority being the 8,779 aggravated assaults. 


In the same period in 2021, there were 12,641 violent crimes, including 8,372 aggravated assaults.


Comparisons with 2020 are tricky due to the onset of the coronavirus that year, as the stay-at-home directive skewed many numbers. But Moore said that violent crime in 2022 is 9% higher than in the same period in pre-pandemic 2019. 


More rides go missing

Car thefts in Los Angeles show no sign of decreasing. The 2,231 vehicles reported stolen in May is the fifth-highest monthly total ever. In nine of the last 10 months there have been 2,000 or more stolen vehicles. Before the pandemic, the highest figure ever was the 1,797 in January 2017.


Vehicle thefts in Los Angeles in May, 2018–2022

Bar chart of stolen vehicles each May


Burglaries have been rising this year, and the 1,305 in May marks the highest monthly total since June 2020. Densely inhabited Downtown saw 83 burglaries, more than in any other neighborhood in the city. The second-highest number was the 45 in Koreatown.


Burglaries by month in Los Angeles, December 2021–May 2022

Line chart of burglaries over 6 months


While the number of incidents has drawn the attention of the LAPD—Moore said there has been a spike in burglaries in communities such as Van Nuys—the number is far below the level in the past. In 2021, the LAPD reported 12,874 burglaries. That was the lowest annual figure in at least a decade, and compared with the 17,267 in 2011.


According to Compstat data, through June 11 the LAPD recorded 43,539 property crimes. That is an increase of 13.7% from the same period the prior year.


How we did it: We examined publicly available crime data from the Los Angeles Police Department from Dec. 1, 2021-May 31, 2022, and the periods of May 1-31 from 2018-2022. We also examined LAPD Compstat data. Learn more about our data here.


LAPD data only reflects crimes that are reported to the department, not how many crimes actually occurred. In making our calculations, we rely on the data the LAPD makes publicly available. LAPD may update past crime reports with new information, or recategorize past reports. Those revised reports do not always automatically become part of the public database.


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