For the first time in at least five years, crime in Northeast Los Angeles is going up rather than down, and the area looks set to end 2012 with close to 2 percent more crimes than 2011, according to Los Angeles Police Department Northeast Community Station Capt. Bill Murphy.
The past two weeks—roughly the first half of December—have been particularly bad, Murphy told a meeting of the Community Police Advisory Board at the LAPD Northeast station on Monday night. About 120 crimes occurred during this period, and “where we lost it was in thefts, including general thefts, such as bicycles, and shoplifting,” Murphy said, adding that Eagle Rock Plaza has historically been a magnet for property crimes.
(According to CrimeMapping.com, a repository of nationwide crime data, there were five incidents of shoplifting in Eagle Rock—four of them in or around Eagle Rock Plaza—from Dec. 2 through Dec. 15. Ten vehicles were stolen or burglarized during the period.)
The FBI, which decides what counts as a crime nationwide, does not differentiate between thefts and homicide, Murphy told Patch. From the purely numbers point of view, therefore, an incident of shoplifting is treated on par with murder, Murphy said. And while shoplifting may appear to be a relatively innocuous crime, too much of it pushes crime stats up, making a given year look particularly bad.
“Last year, we had a bad December for homicides,” Murphy told the meeting, pointing out that as many as three murders were committed in the Northeast area within the last two weeks of the month. Northeast L.A. ended 2011 with a total of 12 homicides, which also happens to the number of homicides that have occurred so far this year.
“If we hold that 12 number through the 31st, at midnight we’d be dead even,” Murphy said. In fact, 12 homicides each in 2011 and 2012 would make those years the fifth-best “homicide numbers” over the past 40 years, Murphy said, offering an interesting sidelight: In 1992, there were as many as 40 murders in Northeast L.A.
“We want to close with some good crime numbers and I need your help,” Murphy said, reminding the CPAB members that Christmas is around the corner on Tuesday. Typically, “a lot of people do shopping and they put their presents in the front seat,” Murphy said.
“You’ve got to avoid that stuff—because criminals know that, too," the captain warned. "They go car by car, even though we’re boosting foot [patrol] beats and putting extra officers” on the streets. In addition, LAPD cadets will be handing out flyers to caution shoppers against being careless.