Touched by Crime – DTLA Violence & Mayhem Where You’d Least Expect – and How Best to Prevent It

The secret’s out. Crime in downtown Los Angeles has shattered any sense of security, casting downtown’s trendy reputation under a dark and unpredictable shadow. While downtown’s treasure of award-winning restaurants, art galleries, luxury living, and nightlife entertainment hubs persists, make no mistake, our fearless leaders are working around the clock to restore the grand reputation downtown held in the year’s just before COVID.

Just Another Routine Jewelry Heist

Surveillance footage showing daytime robbery at Hill Street Jewelry in Downtown LA


A brazen robbery resulted in over half a million dollars in stolen merchandise at Hill Street Jewelry. Although the Jewelry District is known for countering crime with armed security at almost every door, on June 1, 2024, three violent criminals were able to subdue the jewelry store’s security upon arrival. Surveillance footage shows the owner trying to stop the diabolical crew dressed in dark clothing and surgical masks. However, it seemed his defeated attempt only left a buffet of gold, platinum, and diamonds for the thieves to enjoy. With armed security, surveillance cameras, and the frustrations of being stalled in a downtown traffic jam seemingly becoming the least of the thieve’s worries, moving forward, jewelers have been advised by local law enforcement to convert to appointment-only policies and keep entryways locked to deter these types of recurring crimes.

Tap Twice on the Metro

Los Angeles County Metropolitan Transportation Authority, aka Metro, has seen an astonishing rise in crimes against riders and drivers in recent months, with the most current incident being a bus driver pepper-sprayed as a follow-up to a string of recent stabbings to add to its daily pandemonium that even had the Mayor, who doubles as Chair of the Metro Board of Directors, publicly admitting she didn’t feel safe while riding the system. Quickly, springing into action, the company dedicated to moving millions of people via trains, lanes, and automobiles vowed to improve safety, increased their security personnel on each line, added protective shields for drivers, and debuted a new tap-in-tap-out program, along with adding homeless outreach programs to their list of stops.

Obscure DTLA


Free Parking for Level 8 Employees

Inside Edition captures images of Downtown LA March for Justice for slain actor, Johnny Wactor


After former employee and General Hospital star Johnny Wactor was tragically killed after leaving his job at Level 8 rooftop bar on May 25, many believed the incident could have been avoided if the bar had honored its original promise to offer free parking for its late-night employees. Following the famed actor’s tragic death, June 12 witnessed one of the city’s first public marches in demand for safety by the Downtown community, friends, family, and political leaders crowding into City Hall to demand #JusticeforJohnny. Councilmember Kevin DeLeon gave his heartfelt condolences, while DA George Gascón was met with “booes” at least twice during the hearing. No word if the multi-venued Level 8 will be offering free parking for their employees, however, in a statement made to the media a week following the tragedy, a spokesperson did state that the nighttime adventureland would explore new ways to boost employee safety.

Added Flavor at Starbucks

Instead of revealing a new delicious iced latté in time for the summer, Starbucks was forced to introduce a new flavor of security guard to their Historic Core location on 6th and Spring. This came after years of putting up with daily shenanigans and furniture theft. Since its grand opening in 2010, the location has become less and less convenient for the usual wi-fi caffeine combo, with the community witnessing limited use of the bathrooms and phone charging stations to prevent loitering inside and outside the location.

Smash’n and Grab’n at the Burlington Coat Factory

COVID-19 side effects brought on a rash of shoplifting at the Burlington Coat Factory on Broadway and 7th. Since then, the multi-level department store has been forced to change its entire setup. Closing the 7th Street escalator that had once been used to access its basement level since its opening in 2015, the store now offers one way in and one way out, with short interruptions denying access until gaining the permission of the two sentinels stationed at the Broadway entrance. 

Sticky Fingers at Figat7th

Still one of DTLA’s most vibrant open-air malls, Figat7th still finds itself grappling with transients who hardly miss an opportunity to become a source of disruption. Due to the many entry ways of the multi-leveled facility, security stays vigilant, but there’s only so much that can be accomplished with strict laws encouraging “hands off” communication. In November of 2022, a mentally ill transient stabbed a 9-year-old, which led to the shooting death of the perpetrator inside the mall’s Target store, witnessed by dozens of shoppers. Shoplifting still appears to be rampant, as evidenced by a recent sting operation in February 2020 that led to the arrest of nine shoplifters nabbed with a variety of stolen merchandise, from designer perfumes and colognes to athletic wear, sneakers, and backpacks. Etc, etc…

The Ribbon of Light and Darkness

Plunged into darkness – 6th Street Viaduct falls victim of copper wire thieves

The Ribbon of Light has unofficially been renamed to the Ribbon of Darkness after construction oversights saw its grand opening with the omission of safety boundaries, which may have prevented the tragic end of a minor who, unlike other unwarranted climbers, accidentally fell off one of the arches and died. To add to the morbidity, the bridge has attracted street takeovers, graffiti vandals, and the wrong kind of current as copper wire thieves continue to strike, relieving its arches of thousands of feet of copper wire. Perhaps better securing the viaduct’s easily accessible areas and/or redesigning the electric boxes to make the copper materials less accessible could be a step towards reclaiming this architectural marvel and saving tax payers a whopping 2 million dollars.

Bacon Wrapped Riots at LA LIVE


Over the years, LA LIVE has not only been the epicenter of some of the world’s largest entertainment, but it’s also seen its fair share of wild mayhem. Despite fan riots, gun violence, and recent stabbing of an illegal street vendor, DTLA’s largest sports, dining, and concert destination continues to bring in thousands of content visitors each and every night. However, for over 10 years, corporate heads have been battling illegal vending. When signage proved fickle to stop the set-up of hundreds of illegal vendors, disobeying vendors expanded their offerings of bootleg merch from Pico to 9th Street to include a variety of street-made food and discounted alcoholic drinks. The passage of recent vendor laws has promoted the expectation of permitted vendors only, allowing the county to make dozens of arrests, relentlessly confiscating thousands of bacon-wrapped hotdogs, chips, elotes, and tacos from the unlicensed independent peddlers in just the past few months. Sources at LA LIVE note that superstars scheduled to perform at CryptoArena have been known to drop the dime on bootleggers long before they arrive as well, in hopes of “curbing” illegal vending efforts.

Echoes of Mayhem at Walt Disney Concert Hall


The Walt Disney Concert Hall, a place usually associated with musical excellence and celebration, echoed with the sounds of fear and rage as a graduation ceremony on June 14th turned violent. The event, intended to be a joyous celebration for graduating students, attempted to mix a group of graduates with juvenile detention students. The recent spectacle located in one of the most prestigious districts of Downtown Los Angeles, known for the Broad Museum, high-end eateries, and Grand Performances on Bunker Hill, has the world questioning if there’s any place left sacred in downtown. The altercation continued outside the venue, with reports of gunfire. Needless to say, it’s mostly likely, the groups will not be invited back.

Graffiti Towers Becomes a Tourist Attraction


Early 2024 witnessed one of the largest street art collaborations known to man as dozens of graffiti artists from far and wide converged on the abandoned Oceanwide project. Seen from miles around, the four towers, now covered with enormous tags, have become one of DTLA’s most-called-about tourist attractions, with merchandise, media blitz, and onlookers abound. The failed project that stood abandoned for years with no finish date now comes complete with an almost $40 million price tag for tax payers, promising added security, and has since seen constant police presence replaced by a perimeter completely surrounded by a highly, razor-sharp barb wired fence. For now, the location, which seems out of space for use as a canvas, hasn’t seen any additional graffiti; however, it still managed to see a few base jumpers and tight rope walkers.

As downtown’s uptick in crime continues to ignite calls for increased security and a return to a safer downtown, local councils, committees, and neighborhood organizations will continue to work to their best abilities to ensure such random incidents of violence and mayhem become a thing of the past.

If you have ANY information regarding these crimes, please contact the LAPD at 213.486.6606or their anonymous tip hotline at 800.222.8477 or visit LAcrimeStoppers.org

Author: Jamie Herrera

Writer l Father of many | Master of none l events@dtla-weekly.com