With a few days left in the year, the number of murders in the city of Los Angeles has crept up and will likely surpass 300 for the first time since 2009. It's not a big increase — so far LA's homicide toll for 2012 is just three over last year's — but it may reflect that overall crime numbers across the country are starting to tick back up after a decade of declining crime reports. Los Angeles crime as reported by the LAPD will be down about two percent, the tenth year of decline, the LA Times says. "The fact that Los Angeles has continued to decline, especially when several factors haven't been as good as they could be — it's remarkable, frankly," said Charis Kubrin, a criminologist at UC Irvine. "I'm puzzled."
From the LAT:
The statistics showed significant fluctuations in crime within neighborhoods. There were 51 homicides in the area patrolled by the LAPD's 77th Street Division — a roughly 70% increase over last year.
The adjacent Newton Division, however, saw a dramatic decrease in killings. Such spikes and drops are often attributed to particular gang rivalries or other frictions in an area, [Chief Charlie] Beck said.
The figures also underscored the stark geographic disparities of where crime occurs in Los Angeles. In the wealthy Westside neighborhoods patrolled by the LAPD's West L.A. Division, there were 276 violent crimes, while the neighborhoods of South L.A. experienced about five times that number.
The LAPD, meanwhile, said it collected 2,037 weapons at Wednesday's gun exchange at the Sports Arena and in Van Nuys. Those not reported stolen and returned to their owners will be melted down. And this: a suspect was taken into custody for allegedly buying alcohol in a Walgreens at Van Nuys Boulevard and Sherman Way, pouring the liquid on a sleeping homeless woman outside and lighting her on fire.