Local Gumshoes Report Back: Studio City Small Town Crime

Behind every L.A. crime big and small there’s a reporter with a notepad. We asked local gumshoes to share the most memorable headlines from their own backyards. Here, Studio City Patch editor Mike Szymanski recalls his top three.

How Can a Body in the Back of a Burning Car NOT Be Considered Homicide?
A body found in a burning car defies expectations.

Truly one of the most bizarre crimes I’ve covered so far at Patch was when the LAPD North Hollywood division was covering an incident of a guy found dead in the back seat of a burning car. We were talking to the detectives and they said, “We’re not calling it murder.” 


No, really, they said there was evidence that the guy was out partying with friends, he died of a drug overdose, and his friends put his body in the trunk and set it ablaze. Some friends! It took police a while to sort it out, but suddenly it was simply an arson investigation. No one else followed the story. No one else cared.


A Few Hours Later, 2 Ducks Were Hit in the Same Spot 2 Girls Were Struck
In March of last year, a car struck two 11-year-old sisters crossing the street. That evening, Szymanski witnessed two ducks get hit at the exact same intersection.

Had it not happened to me in person, I would not have believed this story.

I had been scrambling all afternoon to find out which school two twins that had been hit in a busy intersection in Studio City attended. Turns out it was where my sister teaches, and I got an exclusive with the assistant principal who rode to the hospital with them.

Later in the afternoon, on my way to a community meeting, I stood and watched the intersection to see how fast the cars were going, when these two ducks waddled right into the street. I wasn’t going to write about it, but when I went to the community meeting, I found myself entertaining a big crowd of people who said it had to go up on Patch.

Now the intersection has a crosswalk and signals. 


Posting a Garage Sale Sign? Lost Dog Flier? Well, She’ll Tear It Down
A Studio City resident wages campaign against what she sees as paper blight, much to the dismay of neighbors hosting a yard sale, or searching for a lost pet.

 I inadvertently turned one of the local gadflies who attends the Studio City Neighborhood Council, whom I like very much, into the nation’s meanest old lady—at least for a week—because the Huffington Post and other outlets picked up this story.

Yes, taping those signs to a post or worse, nailing it to a tree, are crimes in the city of Los Angeles. They are rarely prosecuted. 

She had a justified gripe: the blight of sign postings all around Studio City. We’ve had a recent proliferation of coyote sightings too, so lost dog and cat posters were all around. I guess this heartless quote struck a nerve: “One recent sign I took down from a cat those was lost for three months,” she concluded. “Those people should realize that the coyotes got that cat a long time ago.”