Los Angeles Car Crime Reaches Record High
Los Angeles car thefts hit record highs in the second quarter of 2020, with some claiming the matter is the direct result of the coronavirus pandemic. Despite LA being infamous for car crime, the general trend over the last decade was a downward one — until very recently. A report from the USC Annenberg School for Journalism’s non-profit analysis publication Crosstown analyzed data from the Los Angeles Police Department, citing a 57.7-percent uptick in vehicle theft between April and June against the same period in 2019.
COVID-19 was theorized to have only been part of the problem. While the study notes that lockdown measures meant more vehicles sitting around unattended for longer periods of time, making them tempting targets for thieves, it also references the California Judicial Council’s passing of new zero-dollar bail policy as a contributing factor. Enacted in April, Los Angeles County District Attorney Jackie Lacey said the measure was taken so courts could set individual bail for those accused of looting. Meanwhile, most non-violent crimes (and some low-level felonies) are supposed to be bail-free, allowing jail populations to be kept at a minimum during the pandemic.
The city also stopped ticketing for parking violations, leaving ample opportunity for cars to enjoy prolonged curbside stays while everyone works from home.
“People are seeing that they’re not going to stay in jail, especially for car theft,” said LAPD Lieutenant Siage Hosea, who works on the Task Force for Regional Autotheft Protection. “So what’s happening is we are seeing repeat offenders.”
The spike coincides with the arrival of the coronavirus pandemic. Although crime in general has decreased since mid-March, when schools were closed and businesses were shuttered in the effort to slow the spread of the COVID-19 virus, vehicle thefts have spiked. As Crosstown reported last month, April saw a 31 [percent] jump in car thefts, and the numbers have only climbed since then.
It’s a stark contrast to the first quarter of the year, which registered only a slight increase over January-March of 2019. Yet in June, there were 2,055 vehicles stolen, nearly double the 1,167 reported in the same month last year. There were more auto thefts between April-June than during any quarter since the LAPD began making its data public over a decade ago.
You’d probably be surprised to hear that crime is down in La-La-Land overall, yet that’s exactly what the LAPD reported this week; statistics show a 8.5-percent drop in overall crime during the first 6 months of 2020 versus the same period in 2019. Some say this paints a confusing picture when police data also shows that car thefts, murders and hate crimes are all up by a significant amount, suggesting minor incidents are simply being ignored.
If there is a silver lining to this, it’s that most of the crimes seem to be opportunistic in nature. Rather than parting these vehicles out for profit, never to be seen again, many criminals seem to be engaging in joyriding. A lot of these stolen vehicles are recovered days later, according to Lt. Hosea — frequently damaged, but mostly intact.
[Image: Daniel Jedzura/Shutterstock]
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