The Detective: A restaurant and a bomb report

A rundown of recent and unusual criminal activity in Los Angeles

Illustration of a bomb on a bench


Crime is a constant in the city, and while every report is serious, some of the incidents recorded by the Los Angeles Police Department bear an unusual quality. The Detective, our data-crawling robot, with help from human assistant Cari Spencer, uncovered a few recent anomalies. This period covers July 18-24.


🔎 Venice is typically a fun and eclectic neighborhood, with an active nightlife scene. On July 24 at 9:40 p.m., there was a different kind of evening activity: A bomb was found near The Pier House restaurant. According to publicly available LAPD data, the person in possession of the device also used force against a 25-year-old woman. It is unclear if a bombing actually occurred. 


This is the fourth incident recorded as a bombing or possession/manufacturing of a destructive device in the city of Los Angeles this year. Since 2010, there have been 199 such reports. Bomb threats, on the other hand, have been reported 1,445 times since 2010. 


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🔎 Almost everyone has been in a situation where they are asked by a stranger to buy something for them. That happened in the morning on July 22 in Hollywood. According to the LAPD, at 8:15 a.m. an unidentified individual either offered or asked for a drink from someone at a fast-food restaurant. Details are thin, but during the encounter the person stole unspecified property from the victim. According to police the value of the stolen goods was under $950. 


This marks the sixth time that a suspect has offered or solicited a drink from the victim of a crime in 2022. There have been 184 incidents since 2010, with 10 of them occurring in 2021. 


🔎 On July 19 at 8 p.m., police were holding a man in custody on Main Street in Historic South-Central. That is nothing unusual, but what happened next is: According to the LAPD, a group of people appeared and illegally worked to help the man escape. The suspects were reported to be gang members.


The crime was recorded as a “lynching,” although the police terminology does not align with the violent and racist act most people think of when they hear the word. As Crosstown reported in 2020, the term “lynching” was removed from California’s criminal code in 2015, but the LAPD still uses it to refer to instances in which a mob removes a person from under the lawful custody of a peace officer. Since 2010, there have been 57 recorded incidents of “lynching,” with 10 in 2020. This is the first case reported this year. 


🔎 In movies, vacant lots are often places where suspicious behavior occurs. Life imitated art on July 21. At 4:52 a.m., an arsonist lit a fire in a vacant lot in the neighborhood of Vermont Vista. It is unclear if any damage was sustained.


Vacant lots are not frequently a location for crime. This year, there have been 38 criminal reports at vacant lots. Since 2010, 735 criminal incidents have been reported at vacant lots. 


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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