1.17.2022

The Biden economy sucks so bad that it's brought back train robbery....

It’s ugly out there’: Rail thefts leave tracks littered with pilfered packages
Stolen packages litter train tracks - Packaging debris and items stolen from rail cars litter train tracks Saturday in Lincoln Heights, drawing scavengers. (Irfan Khan / Los Angeles Times)

By Rachel Uranga, Irfan Khan, Richard Winton Jan. 16, 2022 5 AM PT 

 

".....The scene was a stretch of railroad tracks in Lincoln Heights on Saturday: A blizzard of torn plastic wrappers, cardboard boxes and paper packaging attesting to a wave of rail car thievery that officials say has been on the rise in recent months.

Several scavengers picked through the debris, hoping to find electronics, clothes or whatever valuables thieves left behind.

“Everything comes on the train — cellphones, Louis Vuitton purses, designer clothes, toys, lawnmowers, power equipment, power tools,” said a 37-year-old man who declined to give his name. He said he comes to the tracks regularly and once found a Louis Vuitton purse and a robotic arm worth five figures: “We find things here and there, make some money off of it.”

Thieves are pilfering railroad cars in a crime that harks back to the days of horseback-riding bandits, but is fueled by a host of modern realities, including the rise of e-commerce and Southern California’s role as a hub for the movement of goods.

The images have generated national attention and revealed tension among rail operators, government officials and authorities over what can be done to reduce the thefts.

Union Pacific has reported an alarming 160% increase since December 2020 in thefts along railroad tracks in L.A. County.


Later Saturday, approximately 17 cars on a Union Pacific train derailed in “the same area where the vandalism has been occurring,” said Robynn Tysver, a Union Pacific spokesperson. The crew was not hurt and the cause is under investigation, Tysver added.

A bottleneck in the supply chain and the presence of homeless encampments near rail lines have contributed to the thefts, officials said.

“Organized and opportunistic criminal rail theft ... impacts our employees, our customers in the overall supply chain industry,” said Adrian Guerrero, a director of public affairs for Union Pacific.

Guerrero estimates that about 90 cargo containers a day are compromised, sometimes by an organized group that has halted trains and recruited people living on the street to ransack the containers.

Union Pacific is deploying more drones, has brought in extra security and enlisted the Los Angeles Police Department, California Highway Patrol and the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department to combat the thefts, Guerrero said.

“It’s ugly out there,” the LAPD’s Hurtado said.

In a letter to Dist. Atty. George Gasc√≥n, Union Pacific’s Guerrero estimated that more than 100 people have been arrested but they “boast to our officers that charges will be pled down.”

The ports of Los Angeles and Long Beach handle about 40% of the nation’s maritime imports. The majority of the nearly $450 billion in goods moved at the ports eventually lands on a train.

Dumping, trash and encampments around railroad tracks last year prompted Los Angeles Councilman Joe Buscaino to call for the city to declare them a public nuisance. But the effort was dropped after Union Pacific cleaned up a swath of tracks, said his spokesperson, Branimir Kvartuc.

Still, Buscaino said, Union Pacific needs to hire more agents to patrol the tracks. “It’s no surprise we are seeing the additional crimes,” he said in a text, adding that the problems had been “unabated for years.”