During the mayoral primary, mall developer Rick Caruso time and again harped on crime that he said is out of control in Los Angeles. The message he sought to deliver—before finishing second to U.S. Rep. Karen Bass—was that he was the candidate best positioned to enhance public safety in the city.
“Right now we have some of the worst crime we’ve had in the history of Los Angeles,” Caruso proclaimed during a mayoral debate on March 22.
The actual story is more nuanced. Homicides and gun-related crimes have surged in the city since the onset of the pandemic. However, in 2021 the annual number of robberies and burglaries were at some of the lowest levels seen in years.
Crime varies by neighborhood, but one place where police reports are down is a site Caruso knows intimately: The Grove, his signature shopping complex in Fairfax.
Publicly available Los Angeles Police Department data shows that officers are responding to fewer crimes at The Grove than before the pandemic. In the first quarter of 2022, there were 31 police reports of crime at the complex. That compares with the 43 crime reports in the same quarter in 2017, and the 42 in the equivalent time period in 2018. In the first quarter of 2019, there were 60 Grove crime reports, nearly double the 2022 total. (Figures in the first quarter of 2020 and 2021 are difficult to compare due to the impacts of COVID-19.)
Shopping centers and stores attract their biggest crowds during the holiday season. The Grove in the fourth quarter of 2021 generated 45 police reports, below the 49 in the final quarter of 2019, the 48 in 2018, and the 54 in that period in 2017.
A representative of Caruso and The Grove would not discuss when or under what conditions criminal acts that occur at the complex are referred to the police. In an email to Crosstown, Caruso Senior Vice President of Public Relations and Marketing Jessica Wong said, “For the continued safety of our employees, tenants, guests, and community, we do not publish the details of our comprehensive security program which includes a close partnership with LAPD.”
From Jan. 1–May 31 this year, there were LAPD reports for 54 crimes at The Grove. According to police data, 23 of those were shoplifting classified as petty theft, meaning less than $950 in merchandise was stolen. It is unclear which stores or businesses were targeted.
Another seven incidents involved shoplifting reports of grand theft, in which more than $950 worth of goods were taken.
Some incidents generate outsized attention. Last Nov. 22, there was a smash-and-grab burglary at The Grove’s Nordstrom department store. According to police, members of an organized retail crime ring involving dozens of people used a sledgehammer to bash the store’s windows. It resulted in nearly $15,000 in damage and about $5,000 worth of stolen merchandise.
Most of the crimes reported at The Grove do not involve a weapon. Of the reports in the first five months of 2022, one included what the LAPD terms “strong-arm” tactics, and there was one incident involving pepper spray.
That came on May 25 at around 11 a.m. According to the LAPD, a suspect wearing a hoodie stole more than $950 worth of merchandise from an unspecified store or business. While attempting to escape the person sprayed a stranger with pepper spray.
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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