The Crosstown Crime Book: August 2023

Retail theft draws attention, and gun violence in Los Angeles continues to decline

Illustration of a scene with gun, smoke, a notebook and caution tape-signed


With the Crime Book, Crosstown examines monthly statistics and trends in criminal activity, using publicly available Los Angeles Police Department data. Here is how things looked in August.


The most notable public safety development last month involved theft. On Aug. 12, a brazen crew of approximately 30 masked individuals stole more than $300,000 worth of merchandise from a Nordstrom in Canoga Park. Five days later, Mayor Karen Bass joined a cadre of local political and law enforcement leaders to announce the formation of an Organized Retail Theft task force


[Get crime, housing and other stats about where you live with the Crosstown Neighborhood Newsletter]


Although most forms of property crime in the city are down this year, according to LAPD Compstat data the category of personal/other theft has increased by 14.9%. Department stores have been hit particularly hard.


There were 941 reports of shoplifting in August. That is a 36% increase over the same month last year. It is also well above August count in the years before the pandemic.


Horizontal bar chart of monthly shoplifting reports in Los Angeles


Although the Nordstrom theft drew attention to Canoga Park, the neighborhood in the city with the most shoplifting reports in August was Sawtelle, where there were 85 incidents. 


During the Sept. 12 meeting of the Los Angeles Police Commission, Chief Michel Moore said the new task force made an arrest following a smash-and-grab theft at a Macy’s in Northridge.


“Since the inception of this task force we now have made 21 arrests,” Moore told the commission. “They have investigated more than 93 of these various instances, and they have a number of other individuals that we have now identified.”


World of wheels

Another trouble point is stolen vehicles. There were 2,310 incidents in August. That was the second consecutive month with more than 2,300 reports, and only the fifth time since at least 2010 that the plateau has been eclipsed. 


Line chart of stolen vehicles in Los Angeles


The August count slightly exceeds the number of reports in the same month last year, but represents a stunning 74% increase over the 1,327 car thefts in August 2019. 


bar chart of stolen vehicles each August in Los Angeles


According to Compstat data, burglaries in the city through Sept. 2 were down 2.7% from the same period last year. However, the 1,317 reports in August was the highest monthly total in 2023.


There were 78 burglary reports in Downtown in August, more than any other neighborhood in the city. The next highest counts were in Encino (44 reports) and Hollywood (43).


Fewer Firearms

A notable development in August was a reduction in homicides and gun crimes (a firearm is the weapon used in about 75% of murders in Los Angeles). The city registered 31 killings during the month, continuing an overall decline in murders this year. As Crosstown recently reported, in July and August there were a combined 60 homicides. Last year in that period the count was 89.


There were 212 reports of shots fired in August. That is a sharp decrease from the same month in each of the previous three years. However, it is above the count in August in the years before COVID-19.


Bar chart of shots-fired reports in Los Angeles each August


There were 83 reports of people shot in August, also well below counts in the same month in the past three years. Additionally, that is the lowest monthly total in 2023.


Bar chart of victims shot each August in Los Angeles


Identity check

Identity theft continued to decline in August, after soaring last year. Thieves had frequently victimized low-income individuals by cloning their EBT cards and emptying their accounts. 


News stories helped spur law enforcement agencies to dedicate more resources to the matter. As a result, reports tumbled. In August there were 629 incidents, a small fraction of the 1,781 reports in the same month in 2022.


Horizontal bar chart of identity theft reports in Los Angeles


Identity thieves were most active in Koreatown in August. There were 24 reports in the community, exceeding the 21 in Hollywood.


How we did it: We examined publicly available crime data from the Los Angeles Police Department from Aug. 1, 2018–Aug. 31, 2023. 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.


Have questions about our data or want to know more? Write to us at