Crime once again rose in Downtown Los Angeles, with a 4.2% increase in 2019 over 2018, according to data from the Los Angeles Police Department. The rise marks the sixth straight year of increases.
The LAPD’s Central Division, which is based in Downtown and covers most of the area, recorded a total of 7,850 Part I crimes, which counts violent and property crimes, compared to 7,536 in 2018, as of Wednesday, Jan. 22. That includes a rise of 60 violent crimes over 2018, from 1,935 to 1,995. This comes as violent crime fell overall across the city.
LAPD Central Division Capt. Timothy Harrelson, who took over running the division in early 2019, said that nearly 50% of Part 1 crime takes place in Skid Row, with other trouble areas continuing to be the Historic Core, and the Seventh and Fifth streets corridors.
“Downtown has a pretty historic trend and pattern and it stayed consistent,” Harrelson said. “We have Skid Row. Generally speaking approximately 50% of our Part 1 and violent crime, especially more violent crime, will occur in Skid Row. The rest is scattered throughout.”
The biggest driver of the overall increase in crime was property theft, specifically grand theft person. Harrelson said most of that was in the form of phone or purse snatches. In part, that’s because more people are coming into Downtown, be it tourists or people coming for events, shows or to Downtown’s restaurants. He added that the property theft has been exacerbated around the Metro rail station at Fifth and Hill streets and the Seventh Street/Metro Center station. The speed in which people can get in and out of Downtown via Metro trains and buses, helps spark crime around the stations. Visitors and tourists can quickly travel into Downtown, but so can thieves.
“That’s a major point,” Harrelson noted. “It’s a major hub of activity; thousands of people come through daily. They can come in and do whatever crime and be on a train and be out.”
Blair Besten, executive director of the Historic Core Business Improvement District which operates clean and safe teams around the neighborhood, said that they have noticed an increase in shoplifting from businesses along the Fifth Street corridor. She agreed that the Fifth and Seventh streets Metro spots have been trouble areas for the Historic Core.