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Detective: Do not give moving boxes to strangers

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Detective: Do not give moving boxes to strangers

September 16, 2021

Here are some recent anomalies in Los Angeles Police Department data found by the Detective, our data crawler, and aggregated by the robot’s human assistant, Taylor Mills. This period covers 23.-29. August 2021

Boxes can become overbearing during a move, but that does not mean they have to be handed over to strangers with confidence. A 26-year-old woman who moved out of her downtown building learned that lesson on August 28th. Someone she did not know approached her and claimed to have been sent by the building owner to help with her move. She gave him some of her belongings, and the man drove off; the boxes never reached the intended destination.

Having a household packed and ready for transportation provides an easy theft target. According to publicly available data from the Los Angeles Police Department, since 2010, 319 crimes against people have been committed in the middle of a move. The most recent major theft occurred Aug. 16 from a house on Vermont Square.

Normally, burglars take the property and run, but an incident in Westlake followed with further damage. On August 28, a 34-year-old woman found that someone had broken a window on her car and taken unspecified items. However, it was only when she tried to start the car that she discovered a virus in the car’s computer system. It is unclear whether this was implanted by the thief, or was somehow a mechanical malfunction due to the burglary.

There are thousands of car burglaries in Los Angeles every year. This is the first time since 2014 that LAPD data identified a virus in a car system after such an incident.

A 33-year-old man had a scary encounter after a night of drinking. At 3 a.m. on Aug. 29, he was driving in the North Hills when he was suddenly confronted by someone who had been hiding in the back seat. The assailant waved a gun and demanded the man pull out and get out of the car. The thief accelerated. When police arrived, they found that the victim was intoxicated.

Victims are often in the car at the time of a car chase. However, crime rarely involves a hiding place. This is only the 15th robbery where a person hid in the back of the car.

In line with the trend toward car crime, an unusual vandalism took place in Downtown on August 26th. An unidentified person on a bicycle rode up with a driver to offer some kind of information. Details of what happened next are slim, but the interaction escalated to the cyclist breaking one of the car’s windows.

Vandals typically do not interact with their victim at the time of destruction. This is only the third time a case of vandalism was reported after a suspect offered information. The last incident was in 2018.

Here’s how we did it: At Crosstown, we are investigating publicly available crime data from several law enforcement agencies in Los Angeles County. We have a robot on the team called the detective who scans LAPD’s publicly available data for irregularities. LAPD officers mark most crime reports in their system with MO codes for “modus operandi”, Latin for method of operation or style. The MO codes are shorthand to describe what happened in a crime.

Questions about our data? Write to us at [email protected]

Crosstown is a non-profit local news organization based in Los Angeles. They use data to provide significant insights to communities to help people make their neighborhoods safer, healthier and more connected. Sign up for their free weekly newsletter at to get neighborhood-level data on crime, air quality and traffic delivered to your inbox.

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