April 23, 2022
Ask Angelenos where they want to go for a day of shopping and you’ll likely hear answers ranging from Melrose to The Grove to Beverly Center and Downtown. But when it comes to shoplifting, thieves often head to another neighborhood, and one that might be unexpected: Canoga Park..
Last year, the San Fernando Valley neighborhood was the site of 336 shoplifting reports, more than any other community in the city, according to publicly available data from the Los Angeles Police Department. Canoga Park also tops the list for most shoplifting reports in the first three months of 2022, with 115 incidents.
Where the community really stands out are incidents of shoplifting in which over $950 worth of merchandise is taken, qualifying as grand theft (which is a felony in California). From January 1 to March 31 of this year, the LAPD filed 30 shoplifting reports at Canoga Park. The other most victimized communities, with 10 reports each, were Beverly Grove, Century City and Panorama City.
Since 2010, Canoga Park has been the No. 1 neighborhood in Los Angeles for cases of grand shoplifting every year except for the pandemic year of 2020. The peak was 151 reports in 2019.
The 106 reports of grand theft shoplifting in Canoga Park last year were more than double the number in Sherman Oaks, the second most victimized neighborhood (40 reports).
Hit the mall
There’s a reason Canoga Park gets so many shoplifting reports: it’s home to Westfield Topanga & The Village, a mall with over 200 stores, including many high-end outlets.
The mall was the site of 91 major shoplifting in 2019. Duke Dao, the LAPD’s senior senior officer for the area, said the magnitude of the number of people passing through the complex of 2.1 million square feet increases the possibility of people making missteps. which can lead to a crime.
“Since there are so many customers or customers shopping at the mall, they are likely to lose a wallet or purse and leave things unattended,” Dao said. “It becomes a very target-rich environment.”
Yet some of the shoplifting incidents have resulted in far more losses than a misplaced wallet. Dao said thieves recently hit the mall’s high-end Saint Laurent store, stealing more than 25 luxury handbags worth more than $26,000.
The mall has also been the scene of high-profile incidents. In November, police responded to a smash-and-grab at the Nordstrom outlet. According to media reports, a security guard was sprayed with chemicals and a team of robbers made off with high-end handbags, jumping into a waiting car.
A similar incident occurred at a jewelry store in the mall in January. In this case, however, the store owner stepped in and fired a shot. Nothing was taken.
Dao said the Westfield Topanga & The Village has limited on-site security, requiring individual store owners or managers to determine whether they will hire a guard or take other security measures.
The highest number of shoplifting incidents in Los Angeles in the past decade occurred in 2016, when the LAPD filed more than 7,000 reports. Last year, the total number of incidents was less than 4,000.
Although shoplifting is non-violent in nature, incidents can spiral out of control and lead to greater danger. Such was the case at the Mall of Victor Valley in Victorville on Tuesday. When shoplifters attempted to rob the Sole Addicts store, the owner pulled out a gun and fired. He missed the robbers, but hit a 9-year-old girl who was waiting to pose for pictures with a mall Easter bunny. She was shot twice in the arm and is expected to recover.
how we did it: We looked at publicly available crime data from the Los Angeles Police Department from 2010 through March 31, 2022. For neighborhood boundaries, we rely on the boundaries defined by the Los Angeles Times. Learn more about our data here.
LAPD data only reflects crimes reported to the department, not the number of crimes actually committed. To perform our calculations, we rely on data that the LAPD makes public. The LAPD may update old crime reports with new information or recategorize old reports. These revised reports are not always automatically part of the public database.
Do you have questions about our data or want to know more? Email us at email@example.com.
Crosstown is a local non-profit news organization based in Los Angeles. They use the data to provide essential information to local communities to help people make their neighborhoods safer, healthier and more connected. Sign up for their free weekly newsletter at xtown.la to get neighborhood-level data on crime, air quality, and traffic delivered to your inbox.