Rising crime places strain on community


Illustration by Alexa Druyanoff

Reflected in a broken mirror, a dark silhouette lurks at a crime scene.

Lucas Cohen-d'Arbeloff

After a series of high-profile crimes in Los Angeles (LA) during recent months, some community members said they are taking precautions and remaining alert. 

During a Nov. 1 crime briefing, Los Angeles Police Chief Michel Moore said homicides are up 17% this year compared to 2020 and up 49% when compared to 2019. 

Some local news stations, like KTLA and ABC7, also reported on robberies and smash-and-grab break-ins, including an armed robbery at a Pacific Palisades holiday party Dec. 3 and the theft of more than $100,000 worth of jewelry at a hotel in downtown LA on Dec. 4.

Another crime attracting public attention is the fatal shooting of philanthropist Jacqueline Avant during a Beverly Hills home invasion Dec. 1, according to the Los Angeles Times. Beverly Hills resident Kian Chen ’23 said this incident made him more aware of the risks he faces navigating daily life.

“It makes me feel a little bit scared,” Chen said. “I’ve always felt somewhat comfortable in my area and to hear that all these crimes are happening with people being followed when they’re driving home, getting killed or getting held at gunpoint, it is really frightening. I could be coming home from a friend’s house or from school, even, and fall victim to [one of these violent attacks].”

Nearly 18,000 U.S. law enforcement agencies measure statistics for serious crimes, like homicide, rape or robbery, using the term “Part I” under the Uniform Crime Reporting program. West Hollywood Sheriff’s Station Lieutenant William Moulder said in his experience, current Part I crime is not exceeding normal levels but may appear much higher when compared with crime levels during pandemic lockdowns.

“Usually during a month, there are anywhere from 180 to 220 Part I crimes that occur,” Moulder said. “Last year, March and April were the lowest with about 84 in the lowest month. Of course, after the [pandemic] reopening, the number of Part I crimes has gone up, but we’re still really low. We’re below the averages, which is a good thing.”

Illustration by Sydney Fener

Sherman Oaks resident and The Buckley School parent Lisa Holiday said an unknown individual broke into her car and stole many of her family’s personal belongings Dec. 7.

“My husband accidentally left [the car door] open, and the next morning, a lot of my daughter’s school stuff was splayed out on the street,” Holiday said. “They took our registration, which is a little scary because now they know where we live. They took the insurance card, and they took some of her clothes and makeup that were stored in the side of the compartment. Nothing like this has ever happened in the 20 years we’ve lived at this address.

Studio City resident Maddie Morrison ’22 said many of her neighbors have been disturbed by the presence of crime in nearby residential areas.

“Although I haven’t experienced any crime myself, I know that people living in Studio City are particularly on edge recently,” Morrison said. “People in Studio City tend to assume that their neighborhoods are especially safe or protected because they’re primarily residential, but I think the past couple of weeks [have] been a reminder to be careful and take care of themselves, their houses and their kids as well.”

Hancock Park resident Nicole Lee ’23 said there is little citizens can do to stamp out the root causes of crime, as the issue is strongly influenced by poverty. She said public safety is largely in the hands of law enforcement and elected leaders.

“It’s just that people have all sorts [of] different motives,” Lee said. “They don’t commit crimes just for the thrill of it, you know? It’s because they need something, and we can’t really get rid of that need.”