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 November.
As 2023 nears a close, there is concern in the upper reaches of the LAPD. That is because some of the notable decreases in violent crime achieved in the first two-thirds of the year are eroding.
“While we have seen a continued reduction in violent crime in all categories, that reduction has been challenged most recently with an increase in the number of shootings as well as the number of homicides,” LAPD Chief Michel Moore stated at the Dec. 5 meeting of the Police Commission.
The murders of three unhoused men late in the month shocked Los Angeles, but the overall murder rate is causing additional concern. On Aug. 5, homicides in the city had fallen 25% compared with the same period in 2022, according to LAPD Compstat data. Yet on Nov. 25, the year-over-year increase had shrunk to 18%.
There has also been backsliding in gun crimes. On Aug. 5 there was a 17% decline in reports of shots fired. By Nov. 25 that was almost cut in half, to 9.1%.
By some measures November brought progress. There were 230 shots-fired reports in the month. That represents a 20% decline from October.
However, the monthly counts in September, October and November were all above the same month in 2022. The situation is similar with gunshot victims.
There were 22 shots-fired reports in Downtown in November, more than any other area in the city. The next-highest counts were in Historic South-Central (12), and Vermont-Slauson and Westlake (11 each).
According to Compstat data, overall violent crime in the city through Nov. 25 is down 4.5% from the same period last year. On Aug. 5 the decline stood at 8.7%.
Beating the ignition system
Gun violence is not the only crime category drawing concern. The city is also experiencing another increase in vehicle theft.
October produced the highest monthly total of stolen cars since 2004. The November count, with 2,309 missing vehicles, was nearly as high.
Moore has said the spike has been driven by social media videos that showed thieves how to use a USB port to overwhelm the ignition system of many Kia and Hyundai models. In the effort to stanch the practice, the LAPD on Sunday participated in a software update event for Hyundai owners in Van Nuys.
In the period before the pandemic, there were typically fewer than 1,500 car thefts each month.
A persistent problem for stores
The property crime category with the biggest jump in 2023 is what the LAPD labels “Personal Theft/Other,” which includes crimes at retail outlets. Through Nov. 25 there had been more than 30,000 such incidents, an increase of 14% from the prior year.
Department stores have been hit particularly hard, and in August, following a series of high-profile thefts, local law enforcement agencies formed an Organized Retail Theft Task Force. Moore touted its work at last week’s Police Commission meeting.
“They have made more than 346 arrests,” he stated. “They’ve recovered some 20 firearms and conducted 86 search warrants, and recovered more than $1.2 million in property.”
Yet by another metric, the advances are tempered. In November there were 944 reports of shoplifting in the city. That came after two months of decreases.
While below the four-digit counts earlier this year, it is still a historically high total. Monthly reports before COVID-19 were in the vicinity of 500–600 per month.
The Westside community of Sawtelle recorded 102 shoplifting reports in November. The next-highest counts were in the shopping-centric communities of Canoga Park (70), Downtown (66) and Beverly Grove (51).
There were 1,264 burglary reports in the city in June. At the Police Commission meeting Moore warned that thieves have recently been active in San Fernando Valley neighborhoods including Tarzana, Woodland Hills and Encino.
He said that burglars operate during the day and evening hours. When given the opportunity, he added, they “prowl those areas and enter through smashing rear windows.”
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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