Los Angeles sees a drop in homicides, but property crime is up

Preliminary police data reveals a mixed picture in the city in 2023


Was Los Angeles a safer city in 2023, or did the risk of being a crime victim rise? It depends on what category you are discussing.


A preliminary look at publicly available Los Angeles Police Department data reveals results that sometimes go in opposite directions. 


In 2023, violent crime fell by 3.2%, with drops in categories such as murder, robbery and rape.


“In regards to property crime, it was a different picture,” Police Chief Michel Moore said during the Jan. 9 meeting of the Los Angeles Police Commission. “We saw a 3.5% increase.”


Fewer murders

The most notable decline involved homicides, which began soaring at the onset of the pandemic. The peak was the 402 murders in 2021.


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Numbers declined slightly in 2022, and at the Police Commission meeting Moore stated that last year there were “65 fewer homicides, which is a more than 16% reduction.”


Preliminary data puts the 2023 count at 327 killings. Numerous major U.S. cities also saw murders fall last year


Bar chart of annual homicides in Los Angeles over 10 years.


The Los Angeles number could be updated. Moore, who three days after the meeting announced his impending retirement, said full-year statistics will be presented at a Jan. 24 press conference.


He added that a significant factor in the decline is a downturn in homicides of people experiencing homelessness. After 92 unhoused individuals were murder victims in 2022, the preliminary count last year was 56. That’s despite a brutal killing spree of three unhoused men late last year that the LAPD says was the work of one individual. Jerrid Joseph Powell was arrested and charged with murder in December.


The initial crime figures also show an 8.6% reduction in gun violence. Moore said there were 127 fewer shooting victims in 2023 than the previous year.


Thieves hit stores and cars

Even as violent crime fell, the city was shaken by a wave of retail theft. This included a summer string of high-profile smash-and-grab or group thefts from department stores.


The LAPD’s category of personal/other theft, which includes retail crimes, increased by 16% last year, Moore stated. The LAPD responded by partnering with regional law enforcement organizations to form a new Organized Retail Theft Task Force. Numerous arrests were made near the end of the year, and on Dec. 18 the LAPD announced that it had recovered more than 200 “possibly stolen Apple and other electronic devices” in a Westlake storefront.


Another unwelcome increase involved auto thefts. In the first six months of the year, there were 12,015 stolen cars, a drop of 10.1% from the first half of 2022, according to LAPD Compstat data.


Then numbers began spiking, and in October there were 2,425 car thefts, the highest monthly total in at least a decade. By the end of the year the gains had been entirely erased; the latest Compstat data tallied more than 26,500 reports, a 2% increase from 2023.


Line chart of annual stolen-vehicle reports in the city of Los Angeles from 2014-2023


That number too will likely be recalibrated by the Jan. 24 news conference.


Moore also revealed that the number of people killed in traffic collisions had increased. In December Crosstown reported that, for only the second time in at least a decade, there had been more than 300 murders and 300 automobile-related deaths in the city.  


“This last year, we actually saw more loss of life [from] traffic collisions than homicides in the city of Los Angeles,” Moore told the Police Commission. “That is a phenomenon that is occurring across the country.”


Traffic Division Compstat data showed 330 auto-related deaths as of Dec. 23, with 176 being pedestrians struck by vehicles. In the entirety of 2022, there were 314 traffic fatalities in the city.


How we did it: We examined publicly available crime data from the Los Angeles Police Department from Jan. 1, 2020–Dec. 31, 2023. We also examined LAPD Compstat data and LAPD Traffic Division 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 askus@xtown.la.