Los Angeles is scrambling to combat a surge in crime in some of its most popular celebrity haunts and tourist destinations, including Hollywood.
Amid spiking homicides, flash mobs of looters, and “street takeovers,” crime has risen across the city, but now it’s seeping into some of the areas known for nightlife and tourism.
In Hollywood, homicides have spiked 100% since last year, and shootings have risen by a third. Robberies have risen 16% to over 400 robberies so far this year, burglaries are up almost 5% to nearly 400, and car theft is up 11% to over 600 incidents. Since 2020, violent crime overall has risen 35% in the Hollywood area.
Across Los Angeles County, homicides have risen 30% since 2020 to more than 200 homicides so far this year, as of the end of July. Shootings are up 43% since 2020 to nearly 800.
To combat the rising crime, the LAPD is sending hundreds more officers to neighborhoods like Hollywood that have seen significant crime surges.
In August, the Los Angeles City Council responded to citizens’ concerns by approving an extra $216,000 for more police officers to patrol the Hollywood area.
Councilman Mitch O’Farrell, who represents the Hollywood area and introduced the motion for more police funding, said his message is that, “If you plan to come to Hollywood to commit crime, you are not welcome” and those who do will be arrested, prosecuted, and jailed.
It remains to be seen whether O’Farrell can back up that threat though as criminal justice enforcement has been a challenge in Los Angeles in recent years.
The culture of lawlessness in the city has led to some eye-popping crime sprees.
This month, a flash mob of about 100 looters swarmed a 7-11 convenience store and made off with whatever they could carry, including snacks, cigarettes, and lottery tickets. Those suspects are still at large. The incident happened just after midnight during a so-called “street takeover.” The same group allegedly blocked a nearby intersection so they could do donuts with their cars.
A similar incident happened several weeks prior when a mob of looters overran a liquor store in the city, filling duffle bags with bottles of alcohol before fleeing. A similar scene happened at the Nordstrom store in Century City Mall where 14 people rushed into the store around 8 p.m., stealing armloads of high-end purses and other items.
Police officials have said they want to crack down on these types of group theft incidents.
“We really want to prevent this from becoming a new trend, where they think that they show up and take over a street or a freeway, or any part of the city that they’re just going to be able do whatever they want, come into a store and take what they want, and we’re here to basically say that’s not going to happen,” LAPD detective, Ryan Moreno said at a press conference in August.
Earlier this summer, the LAPD issued a community alert due to an increase in violent street robberies. Police reported a string of crimes in which victims were followed home after leaving trendy shopping areas or nightclubs and restaurants and then were held up at gunpoint.
At least one man was shot in the chest after an armed robber demanded his phone and wallet.
This sense of lawlessness is what led to the recall effort against Los Angeles District Attorney George Gascon, which so far has not been successful.
The recall effort submitted more than 715,000 signatures, but nearly 200,000 of them were ruled invalid, about a 28% rejection rate, so the recall will not be on the ballot.
A source from within the district attorney’s office said the recall committee is attempting to get a review of those rejected signatures, but for now the recall effort has failed.
Gascon avoided the recall by about 40,000 signatures.
Recent polling from UC Berkeley and the Los Angeles Times suggests Gascon would likely have been recalled if the measure made the ballot. In that poll, 41% of respondents supported the recall, compared to just 20% who opposed it.
The 28% signature rejection rate for Gascon’s recall campaign is the highest on record compared to past recalls. When Governor Gavin Newsom faced a recall in 2021, the rejection rate for those signatures was about 20%. Back in 2003, California Governor Gray Davis was successfully recalled, the first in U.S. history. The rejection rate for that signature drive was about 15%.
However, an investigation by RedState showed there were serious concerns about the contractor charged with collecting the signatures in the first place, which may account for the high rejection rate.
San Francisco residents voted overwhelmingly in June to recall progressive District Attorney Chesa Boudin over his failure to control crime in the city. Other cities that also have progressive district attorneys such as Philadelphia, which is struggling with gun violence, have floated ousting them as well.