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Car Theft Is Spiking Hard In Los Angeles: Report

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On my way to steal the Declaration of Independence. Wait...
On my way to steal the Declaration of Independence. Wait...
Screenshot: Gone In 60 Seconds

Car theft in Los Angeles is apparently happening at the highest rates in a decade, “with coronavirus likely to blame” according to a report. It might be more accurate to blame “cars being parked for weeks due to people not traveling because of coronavirus,” but, I guess it’s kind of six or a half dozen.

A report from the USC Annenberg School for Journalism’s non-profit analysis outfit Crosstown says that after examining “publicly available LAPD data on reports of auto theft from Jan. 1 2010 – June 30, 2020,” reports of the crime are up significantly right now for the first time in the decade. (Crosstown has a page explaining its data further if you’re interested.)


Of course, that only includes car thefts that were called into the police at all.

From the report:

“In the first half of the 2010s, there were rarely more than 4,000 vehicles reported taken during any three-month period. Figures then began increasing, and in the fourth quarter of 2016 that number peaked at 5,098. Since then car thefts have declined steadily.

Until now. Law enforcement officials say the pandemic has created new opportunities for car thieves, with many Angelenos leaving their vehicles parked on the streets for extended periods.”



“A Crosstown analysis of Los Angeles Police Department data revealed that 5,744 vehicles were stolen from April-June, up 57.7 percent from the same period last year.”


“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.”


Los Angeles has stopped giving street sweeping tickets, there are fewer places to go, and more people are working from home. For all those reasons, cars are sitting static a lot longer and I guess more vulnerable to theft.

Anecdotally, a friend of mine’s nearby neighbor in Marina Del Rey (west Los Angeles) woke up to their Dodge Charger’s wheels being missing one day and noticed their own (unlocked) car had been rifled through. So far, my many street parked vehicles have not been noticeably tampered with during the pandemic.


Maybe nobody wants my junkers...

Anyway, lock your cars, don’t let them sit too long, and consider fitting an old school steering lock if you street-park your machine. With so many cars street parked in a big city, I think any single barrier you can put between a thief and your vehicle goes a long way.