Westwood Village saw an increase in theft and burglary as well as a decrease in robberies and aggravated assault from 2018-2019, according to a Los Angeles Police Department report.
The LAPD shared a four-month summary report to the North Westwood Neighborhood Council at its May 1 meeting indicating a 37% increase in part one crimes when compared with counts from Jan. 1, 2018 to May 1, 2018. Part one crimes include armed robberies, aggravated assault, burglaries, grand theft auto, burglary theft from motorized vehicles and armed thefts, said Christopher Ragsdale, an LAPD officer.
The Village reported increases in theft and burglary theft from motorized vehicles, Ragsdale said, with 21 more instances of theft in the Village in 2019 than 2018. There were also 17 cases of burglary theft from motorized vehicles in the 2019 four-month report, as opposed to six in the report from 2018, he added.
Ragsdale said the increase in reported crimes may be due to a system LAPD developed which allows community members to report theft, burglaries and robberies online. However, the system does not allow users to report violent crimes because they must be reported in person, which Ragsdale said may account for why the report did not show an increase in violent crimes.
Despite an increase in theft, the Village also saw a decrease in robberies and aggravated assaults, Ragsdale said. In 2018, LAPD reported four cases of both robberies and aggravated assault, respectively. Both counts are down to two for 2019. Ragsdale said all other crime counts have remained constant.
Ragsdale said larger retailers in the Village have been the target of theft rings in the last year. Instances of theft were reported at Urban Outfitters, CVS, Victoria’s Secret and Target across multiple LA locations, including Westwood.
Ragsdale also shared the report to the Westwood Village Improvement Association on May 8.
Andrew Thomas, the executive director of WVIA, said the association would like a police officer patrolling in Westwood at all times. He added the association is working with LA City Councilmember Paul Koretz, who represents Westwood and surrounding areas, to increase police presence in the Village.
Thomas said the association was aware of the thefts in the Village, and is unsure if the spike in crime will persist. He added he thought many of the reported instances were crimes of opportunity, which include petty theft of phones or purses that are left unattended.
Michael Skiles, president of the NWWNC, said he thinks the increase in crime makes visitors feel unsafe and is a call for a greater police presence in the Village.
“Unfortunately, LAPD has taken the presence of UCPD as license to generally ignore the area until and unless there is an emergency call,” Skiles said.
Skiles said the council is looking into a proposal to implement surveillance cameras in the Village to aid police investigations. The proposal will address privacy concerns as well, he added.
Ragsdale said LAPD has been discussing strategies and working with UCPD to combat increased crime in Westwood. Some strategies include employing undercover officers along with uniformed officers, Ragsdale said.
LAPD officers are currently finding ways to work with affected businesses.
“It’s kind of a partnership,” Ragsdale said. “We are working with the targeted businesses and going out and meeting with the managers and owners to address these issues and see if there’s anything we can improve.”