Cargo train thefts in Los Angeles have more than doubled in last year says railroad company

Union Pacific says thefts cost it at least $5m in 2021

Graeme Massie
Los Angeles
Monday 17 January 2022 22:15

Thieves loot goods trains in Los Angeles with impunity

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Cargo train thefts in Los Angeles have more than doubled over the last year, according to a railroad company.

Union Pacific says that over the last three months, exacerbated by the busy holiday season, it saw more than 90 of its cargo containers in the city raided every day.

And the company says that the thefts, which are up 160 per cent, cost it at least $5m last year.

“Organised and opportunistic criminal rail theft ... impacts our employees, our customers in the overall supply chain industry,” Adrian Guerrero, a director of public affairs for Union Pacific told The Los Angeles Times.

A cargo train derailed over the weekend in the area near the downtown Los Angeles, where the tracks have become littered with ransacked boxes and debris left behind by the thieves.

Multiple cars of the Union Pacific came off the tracks in the city’s Lincoln Heights area on Saturday, with the cause of the accident now under investigation.

Union Pacific now says it has launched an “aggressive response” to the thefts, with more security officers on duty and drones watching over the tracks.

The company says that although its agents have detained hundreds of people in connection with thefts, less than half were booked by police and some were released within 24 hours.

Workers cleaning up the tracks told KTLA that the thefts were even taking place in broad daylight.

“Doesn’t matter what time it is. It could be broad daylight and they just don’t care,” Union Pacific subcontractor Louis Barosas told the news station.

The company sent Los Angeles County District Attorney George Gascón a letter in December, asking for action to deal with “the spiraling crisis of organised and opportunistic criminal rail theft.”

“Even with all the arrests made, the no-cash bail policy and extended timeframe for suspects to appear in court is causing re-victimization to UP by these same criminals,” the letter read.

The company says that as a result of the thefts, customers such as UPS and FedEx have diverted rail business to other areas.

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