Risk of Being a Victim of a Violent Crime Increased in Public Spaces Since 2020

Using crime and cellphone data, researchers found that the risk of street crime victimization rose by nearly 40% in early 2020, then dropped to a still-elevated level for the rest of the year.

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Criminologists who examined crime trends between 2019 and 2020 found that people were more likely to be the victim of a violent crime while in public after March 2020 -- than they had been in previous months.

Key takeaways from their research:

  • The risk of victimization while a person was out in public rose by nearly 40% by April, 2020, even though the overall street crime rate nationwide had begun to decline
  • The risk remained between 10 and 25% higher than it had been in 2019 during the remainder of 2020
  • The criminologists used crime reporting data from Los Angeles, Chicago, and New York and merged it with anonymous cellphone location information to draw new conclusions about the trends

The researchers examined crime reporting data, national victimization survey results, and anonymized cellphone location information to show the places where people were being victimized over the study period.

"While analyses of traditional crime data show discrete drops in offending, we find that, in 2020, the risk of outdoor street crimes initially rose by more than 40% and was consistently between 10 and 25% higher than it had been in 2019 through the remainder of the year," study authors Aaron Chalfin and Maxim Massenkoff wrote in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

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LAPD task force set up to catch follow-home and follow-away robbers:

More Than 100 Arrests by Special Task Force for Follow Home Robberies

LAPD Arrests Four Men on Murder and Robbery Charges in Connection With Follow-Home Crimes

The LAPD reported in November that the number of robberies recorded has climbed by more than 15% since 2020, and Chief Michel Moore said a large number of them were being committed with firearms.

Street and follow-home robberies have been the focus of an LAPD task force set up in Nov. 2021 to try to catch individuals or groups who were responsible. More than 100 arrests have been made by the group's detectives.

“We feel we’ve been effective, not just in reducing the number but actually holding the people accountable who are committing these crimes,” LAPD Robbery-Homicide Division Lt. Kirk Kelley told the NBC4 I-Team in October.

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