Lazarus joined the department in 1983, a year after she graduated from UCLA with a degree in sociology, LAPD and university records show. After several years as a rank-and-file patrol officer, she was promoted to detective and, in 2006, landed a high-profile assignment with Hrycyk tracking stolen artwork and forgeries. There are references in department publications to Lazarus earning public commendation for her work.
She hardly shunned the spotlight. In a recent LA Weekly profile, Lazarus joked that all she knew about art was that it "hangs on the wall" and that "after working here and seeing all the phony art, I said, 'I can do that.' " Lazarus, who according to police has a young daughter and recently married another LAPD detective, told the newspaper that she had started taking oil-painting classes and had first become interested in art when she visited Europe as a teenager. Last year, she gave interviews after helping capture two men convicted of a string of art thefts in the Wilshire area and in Beverly Hills.