The Detective: Crime at the cannabis dispensary

A rundown of recent and unusual criminal activity in Los Angeles

Crime on the rise at cannabis dispensaries


Crime is a constant in the city, though some of the incidents recorded by the Los Angeles Police Department bear an unusual quality or element. The Detective, our data-crawling robot, with help from human assistant Cari Spencer, uncovered a few of the recent anomalies. This period covers July 4-17.


🔎 In the first part of 2022, crimes at local cannabis dispensaries began increasing, perhaps due to the combination of cash on the premises and enticing product on the shelves. Still, an incident at a Canoga Park dispensary stood out. On July 10 at 6 p.m., an unidentified individual broke into the business. The premises were vandalized, and money was taken from the register. According to the LAPD, the shop suffered more than $25,000 in damage.


This is the third time this year that a cannabis dispensary has sustained more than $25,000 in property damage, according to publicly available LAPD data. One of the other incidents where that occurred involved arson. 


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🔎 Door-to-door salespeople are typically innocuous, albeit slightly irritating. Sometimes, however, opening a door to a stranger can be risky. On July 7 at 3 p.m., a man knocked on the door of a 54-year-old woman’s home in Boyle Heights. Details of what transpired are thin, but he pretended to be selling something, and during the encounter he stole unspecified property. 


This is the first police report this year involving someone being conned by a fake salesperson. Last year, there were five recorded incidents. Since 2010, the LAPD has tracked 151 instances of an individual posing as a salesperson to commit a crime. 


🔎 Transactions at fast-food restaurants usually happen quickly. Yet things slowed down at 9:30 p.m. on July 14. That was when police were called to respond to an incident of counterfeiting at an In-N-Out Burger in Northridge. The suspect was not identified, and it is unknown if the individual was trying to use faux cash to finagle a Double-Double from the outlet.


This represents the 18th counterfeiting incident recorded by the LAPD this year. In 2010, there were 129 counterfeiting reports in the city, but the numbers have declined steadily since then. Last year, 29 incidents were reported. 


🔎 Amazon, UPS and other delivery people are ubiquitous these days, and in nearly every situation this is a positive, as a resident gets something she or he ordered. That was not the case in Van Nuys on July 13. Shortly before 11 a.m., a 45-year-old man opened the door to someone posing as a delivery driver. During the encounter, unspecified property belonging to the resident went missing. The incident was reported as petty theft. 


This marks the first time this year that the LAPD has recorded a theft in which a thief pretended to be a delivery person. Since 2010, 87 such incidents have been reported to the LAPD. In 2020, when Amazon and grocery deliveries skyrocketed after the onset of the coronavirus pandemic, 11 reports were tallied, the highest annual count. 


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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