There’s no place in the Los Angeles suburb of Torrance thicker with thieves than the Del Amo Fashion Center, the city’s largest mall. You wouldn’t know that if you looked at the crime map published on the city’s website, reports the Los Angeles Times. Launched last year, the city’s map promised to use cutting-edge technology to notify residents of the latest crimes in their community.
A Times review found that the Torrance Police Department deliberately withholds information on hundreds of crimes across the city, including some of the most serious. More than 150 theft reports filed at the mall after the map launched are missing. So are eight rapes recorded by police and scores of other crimes that the department deems “confidential.” Sgt. Jeremiah Hart, police spokesman, said crime information can be omitted from the map for a variety of reasons. Officials don’t report shoplifting because they believe it is a “crime of opportunity” that doesn’t reflect a particular trend and is unrelated to personal safety. Such crimes occur so frequently that preparing them all for publication would require more staffing. Rape reports are omitted to protect the privacy of the victim. “For us, it’s a balancing test,” Hart said.