For car thieves working the streets of Los Angeles County, few stretches of pavement are more attractive than the two blocks of Alondra Boulevard that run from the 605 Freeway to Studebaker Road. At least 20 vehicles were stolen there in a recent six-month period.
Across town, a block of Wilcox Avenue just north of Hollywood Boulevard has been the scene of more than a dozen burglaries. And the Mid-Wilshire neighborhood, which typically sees three violent crimes a week, had a recent spike of nine assaults and robberies.
These crime hot spots were culled from a new database and crime-mapping program built by the Los Angeles Times that contains information on all serious crimes recorded by the Los Angeles Police Department and the Los Angeles county Sheriff's Department, the two agencies that patrol the vast majority of the county.
Both agencies, like many other police departments throughout the country, have long used computer mapping programs internally to detect crime patterns, develop strategies and determine how to deploy officers. In recent years they have been experimenting with ways to make crime data available to the general public in bulk, electronic form — often hiring outside companies to build online crime maps or, in some cases, posting raw crime data online that can be downloaded.