How long does it take for LAPD to retrieve a stolen vehicle?

About two weeks ago, my sister noticed something odd in the street outside a house we rent in Los Feliz. A strange guy who wasn’t a familiar face in the ‘hood drove up in front of the house and parked this big shiny late-model pickup truck with a huge dent in the side… and no plates. No plates on the front, no plates on the rear.

He parked it in such a way that the trash cans for this building couldn’t be removed from the side of the house and placed out on the streets for collection — so, because it was in the way, and because it sat there for days, and because the no plates thing was weird, we called the parking enforcement line and the police non-emergency line. Four times. Each time we were told that an officer would be sent out, but nobody came.

Finally, 7-10 days after the initial call, a parking enforcement officer shows up today, runs the VIN (vehicle identification number), and — suprise — yep, it’s a stolen vehicle.

But here’s the punchline. “Don’t expect LAPD to show up and tow right away, because there aren’t enough cops in LA to make nonviolent crimes like this a priority,” he tells me. “If the police aren’t here by, say, Tuesday, I’d suggest you call again.”


So we have a stolen truck sitting in the street for almost two weeks, and a witness who saw the suspect park it, and even after the crime has been identified, we should anticipate another 48 hour delay before LAPD responds? What if the thief decides to come back to our house, say, late tonight when nobody’s looking, and drive the truck away? The owner never gets their truck back, and there will no longer be any chance of nailing the thief.

The fact that stolen property has been sitting in front of *my* property for this long — and the fact that the thief knows it’s a safe place for him to dump his shit — man, that gives me a nice warm fuzzy safe feeling. I mean, I just want to run out into the street and HUG some motherfucker right now, it makes me feel so good.

The parking officer was a really nice guy, and he’s doing his job as best he can — as are many of the LAPD, I’m sure. But something’s seriously broken in this city if it takes two weeks for a stolen vehicle to be retreived and reported, after multiple proactive calls from concerned residents. We need more cops. If anyone’s capable of fixing this, it’s Bratton — but fixing this is all about more cops on streets.

Update: A friend suggested calling the local precinct to talk to an officer responsible for our ‘hood. I did, and asked to speak to a supervising officer… after a few rounds of discussion and a few short hours’ time, I’m very happy to say that The Man towed the vehicle away and filed a report. Sweet! Turns out it’s been missing for months, and belongs to some dude in Stockton. I kinda want to rig up a little hidden wireless cam on the spot in case the thief comes back. I’d love to capture the look on his face when he returns to discover that his stolen truck has been “stolen.”

13 thoughts on “How long does it take for LAPD to retrieve a stolen vehicle?”

  1. I just finished reading that Vanity Fair article about the Bel-Air Burglar and the raft of burglaries in the rich ‘hoods. If Those People (outside of Beverly Hills proper, where their own force responds to the calls) can’t get the LAPD to respond in a timely fashion, I tremble to think of what would happen in my shitty burg.

    Oh, wait–I guess I already know.

    To be fair, it seems that L.A.’s police force is stretched ridiculously thin. In the article, former NYC and now L.A. police commissioner, William Bratton, says NYC had the same high crime problem in the 1990s, which was only solved when the city voted to increase the size of the police force.

    To give some frame of reference, NYC now has a force of 35,000. According to Bratton, taking into account L.A.’s size, we’d need 18,000 police officers…and we have 9,000.

  2. Not to thread jack this post but this is pretty much exactly what I was talking about the other day with that Guns in LA post. It’s a proven fact that if citizens have the right to carry guns that crime goes down, most of the Police Chiefs in the country will back that up – yet here in LA where we don’t have enough cops on the streets to respond to burgler alarms, or to come pick up stolen cars, the people who make the rules would prefer if they are the only ones who can carry guns around legaly. It’s nuts.

    But back on topic – close to the same thing happened over by us after Sunset Junction and it took litterally a month and a half for it to get picked up. Kick ass!

  3. I don’t have a VIN handy to test what info you get, but Carfax has a car record test form here, which takes a VIN as input. Might produce contact information you could use?

  4. When my car was stolen a couple of months ago (here in West LA), the officer at the local station put me on hold for over 20 minutes before he could take my info and start the LoJack tracking. He explained that he was the only one there, so he was dealing with several things at the time. I sure wouldn’t want his job!

  5. One thing that helps with response time, not to mention overall safety:
    To begin with, it forces the residents to get more in tune with the local PD, and vice versa. Your neighborhood watch program will eventually get friendly with a couple officers, and it will help expedite the red tape.
    One of the problems police have is the number of erratic, silly phone calls from paranoid citizens, who call in suspicious activity that more reasoned people might dismiss.
    Having a point person in your neighborhood to call, who in turn can contact an officer assigned in your area, will help a lot.

  6. Damnit, I wish you posted sooner. I could have “taken care” of your problem. We needed a car to some “liqour store robbing” research in.

  7. Right, and on the other hand, a website with the domain is a perfectly fair and balanced source of gun research.

  8. Sorry Jen, as Mr. Brownstone pointed out it would be shocking if stats on the Brady website said anything other than less guns = less crime, otherwise they wouldn’t put them up there. Unfortunately they are talking about a widely discredited study. The problem is they only used fatalities in the study, basically saying people who are killed by guns have much more chance of dying than people who aren’t killed by guns. This is the same thing is doing a study about driving being safer than flying and only including people who are killed by planes in crashes, and completely ignoring people who survive crashes or who ride on planes that don’t crash.

  9. In order for crime to go down in areas where carried weapon permits are more easily available, it needs to be widely known by the criminal element that more citizens might be packing.
    In short, there is no other benefit to loosened gun control laws besides being a “deterrent”.
    But more guns more easily accessible will have the equivalence of having more sharp objects around.

  10. Hey Xeni. I’ve been dealing with a similar situation in front of my house with an abandoned van. Next time, you can also call 1-800-ABANDON. That’s the LAPD’s abandoned vehicle hotline. I got a pretty fast response, though they tell you to give it a week or so.

  11. When I started reading Xeni’s post, I thought, wouldn’t it be cool if there was an online database of stolen vehicles, where any citizen can run plates or VIN to determine if a vehicle is stolen. I would be interested to know if Carfax has that info.

    Then, when a citizen locates a stolen vehicle, there can be some sort of simple notification of the owner, insurance company and police. Heck, throw in a finder’s fee and you can have every citizen who needs a few extra bucks combing the streets looking for stolen vehicles.

    Why should a highly trained, sworn, gun-toting police officer have to get involved in routine vehicle recovery?

    Why rely on the city — and taxpayers — to provide a service that interested parties — the owner and insurance companies — would be willing to pay for.

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