Los Angeles Car Crime Reaches Record High

Matt Posky
by Matt Posky
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.”

From Crosstown:

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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  • Dividebytube Dividebytube on Jul 24, 2020

    I had a 1987 Nissan Stanza hand-me-down from my dad. This thing was cherry with only (a lot of) highway miles on it since he traveled roughly 40k miles a year for business. Well one day I decided to back out of my apartment parking spot so my GF could put her car there. It was a hot day so I had the door open a crack as I moved it back. The corner of the door stuck on the nearby fence, wrenching the door wider than the hinges went. Also dented the quarter panel doing it. I spent the next year or two parking in ways - when visiting home - so my dad wouldn't see the damage. One time I stood right in front of the dent until he walked by and got in at the passenger side. That same vehicle, a few years later, had the hood pop open, wrap over the roof, and break the sunroof wind breaker (or whatever it is called). My GF-soon-to-be-wife was driving. Drove off the next exit. I found some plastic strips, the kind used for wrapping newspapers, and tied the hood down so we could limp home via the back roads. I then straightened the hood by first removing it, laying it on the ground and then walking over it with a pair of army boots! Bungee cord kept the hood strapped down. It remained a beater car for a few more months before being sold to a friend of a friend who needed cheap wheels after a DUI. And the bungee cord apparently busted, making the hood fly up again, this time smashing the windshield. The car was finally put to rest with over 210k miles on the clock.

  • Kendahl Kendahl on Jul 24, 2020

    Third hand story circa 1970. A couple of friends told me about the Lamborghini Miura they came across at a rest stop on the way to the June Sprints at Road America. When they made complimentary noises about the car, the owner advised them to look at the other side. The sheet metal was wrinkled all the way from front to rear. A Cadillac driver had changed lanes without looking. I could imagine his insurance agent exclaiming, "You hit a WHAT?!!!" My wife is a professional musician who plays mostly classical music on her violin. In the mid 1980s, we had enough spare change for her to buy a good instrument. A high end dealer in Saint Louis sent us several candidates which we hauled to her mother's (also a violinist) for second opinions. All the way there, I kept thinking, "I hope we don't get hit. We're driving a rusty Datsun 810 worth 1% of the fiddles in the back seat."

  • Inside Looking Out "And safety was enhanced generally via new reversing lamps and turn signals fitted as standard equipment."Did not get it, turn signals were optional in 1954?
  • Lorenzo As long as Grenadier is just a name, and it doesn't actually grenade like Chrysler UltraDrive transmissions. Still, how big is the market for grossly overpriced vehicles? A name like INEOS doesn't have the snobbobile cachet yet. The bulk of the auto market is people who need a reliable, economical car to get to work, and they're not going to pay these prices.
  • Lorenzo They may as well put a conventional key ignition in a steel box with a padlock. Anything electronic is more likely to lock out the owner than someone trying to steal the car.
  • Lorenzo Another misleading article. If they're giving away Chargers, people can drive that when they need longer range, and leave the EV for grocery runs and zipping around town. But they're not giving away Chargers, thy're giving away chargers. What a letdown. What good are chargers in California or Nashville when the power goes out?
  • Luke42 I'm only buying EVs from here on out (when I have the option), so whoever backs off on their EV plans loses a shot at my business.