Do L.A. Celebrity Burglaries Get Preferred Police Action?

Los Angeles police officers dusted for fingerprints when sports figures and Alanis Morisette reported burglaries, but only 21 percent of buglary calls overall result in prints being collected.

Thieves who crept into Alanis Morissette’s home in February made off with a stash worth $2 million, including the singer’s treasured vintage jewelry. A week later, someone broke the window of former Los Angeles Lakers guard Nick Young’s house and stole a safe stocked with $500,000 in valuables. At both crime scenes, Los Angeles police investigators meticulously dusted for fingerprints. They did the same after a burglar stole valuable watches and jewelry from Dodger Yasiel Puig and after former Laker Derek Fisher reported a loss of $300,000 at his home, reports the Los Angeles Times. Not every burglary victim gets the same treatment. Because of a shortage of crime lab analysts, only about 21 percent of burglary calls result in fingerprints being collected.

The LAPD said the lack of resources means detectives must make difficult decisions to prioritize cases. As a result, the vast majority of residential burglaries face strict limits on the number of fingerprints they can send to the department’s crime lab. Officials said they give priority to break-ins they believe are part of a crime series or committed by professional burglary crews. They also prioritize big-ticket cases where unique items, such as art work or jewelry, are stolen or where security cameras capture prowling suspects and offer a good chance at making an arrest. “It’s not the [victim’s] name that matters,” said Assistant Chief Michel Moore. “However, the value of items taken certainly is an influencer and would prioritize them.” Peter Bibring of the American Civil Liberties Union of Southern California said he was troubled that detectives would use the value of stolen items in deciding what resources to allocate to a burglary. Doing so, he said, raises concerns that wealthier residents will get better treatment from police.