The Detective: Impersonating the blind

A rundown of unusual criminal activity in Los Angeles

Illustration of a cane and dark glasses

Crime in Los Angeles never ceases. But when it comes to lawbreaking, there is a much wider variety of incidents than many people realize, and some of them are quite curious. The Detective, our data-crawling robot, with help from human assistant Cari Spencer, looks for the anomalies. Here are a few of the incidents uncovered from June 27-July 3, 2022.


🔎 Sometimes criminals use trickery to get what they want. That was recently the case at a restaurant in Baldwin Hills/Crenshaw. Early morning on July 3, the suspect donned a hat as a disguise, entered the location and pretended to be blind. Using pepper spray to inhibit a 21-year-old employee, the suspect then attempted to rob the business — unsuccessfully.


While the Los Angeles Police Department has recorded mace or pepper spray being used as a weapon in 483 crimes this year, it’s much less common for criminals to pretend to be blind, according to publicly available data. This is the second time in 2022 that a suspect has impersonated a blind person. Since 2015, it has occurred 35 times.


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🔎 Conflicts between landlords, tenants and neighbors have been on the rise since the start of the pandemic. On the evening of June 27, tensions were high when someone threatened to kill their neighbor in a Central Alameda parking lot. While making such a threat is serious, apparently it was done not with a real gun, but a replica firearm.


The crime continues another trend, as replica firearms are on the rise across the country. This is the first time a crime has been logged by the LAPD because of a replica firearm, and the fourth time it has been logged since 2021.


🔎 Hollywood isn’t typically associated with poultry—but in a recent Hollywood crime, poultry was key. At 7:00 p.m. on July 3, a stranger stole from a 36-year-old woman’s yard. While the crime was logged as petty theft of property worth $950 or less, police recorded that cock fighting was involved. It’s not clear if the item stolen was someone’s fighting rooster, or cash or something else. But it was unusual.


The Hollywood incident was the first crime involving cock fighting to be recorded this year. Cock fighting is illegal in all 50 states. Since 2012, it has only been recorded 13 times in Los Angeles. The top crimes where cock fighting have been logged are animal cruelty and burglary, with many incidents involving theft of some sort.


🔎 It’s not always just cute animals that show up at animal hospitals. Recently, someone pretending to be a customer visited a Jefferson Park animal rescue center and vandalized the place. According to the LAPD, the victim was 21 years old and knew the suspect.


This is the fourth crime to be recorded as taking place at a veterinarian or animal hospital this year. Animal hospitals have only been the location of 110 crimes since 2012—with burglary, criminal threats and vandalism being the most common crimes logged at these locations.


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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