Union Pacific kicked off 2022 with bad news: His freight trains were raided on the tracks in Los Angeles Lincoln Heights neighborhood. Thieves ripped the packages open, leaving trash and items they couldn’t resell littering the tracks.
In January, images of packages strewn across train tracks infuriated Americans who are still desperately struggling with supply chain issues. UP admitted that rail car thefts have increased by 160%. More than 90 shipping containers have been compromised every day thanks to easy-to-break locks and a reduction in security personnel on the tracks. The train operator said it cleans up debris at least once a month, but discarded packages and boxes are piling up faster than it can remove them.
To combat the robberies, LA police formed a special task force, which executed more than 700 arrests and 49 search warrants in its crackdown on train robberies, according to the Los Angeles Time:
During the months-long operation to combat railroad robbery in Los Angeles County, a task force made more than 700 arrests and recovered millions of dollars in stolen property, including handbags from creators, power tools and a pair of empty caskets, authorities said.
“It required a dedicated series, and it also required law enforcement resources outside of the LAPD, California Highway Patrol, Sheriff’s Department, law enforcement,” said Los Angeles Police Chief Michel Moore, during an afternoon press conference. “People’s willingness to buy something at a discount and seek it out fuels receivers’ greed to go find individuals who will go out and commit burglaries.”
I’m just trying to imagine a group of thieves running off with not one, but of them coffins. Also, very nice of the Los Angeles Police Chief to blame the people who unwittingly bought the stolen goods while looking for a bargain as the cause of these thefts. It’s a whole new stage of blaming the victim.
While some suspects worked alone, police charged 22 suspects with burglary, cargo theft and receiving stolen property as part of two different train robbery rings, according to the Hill. The two rings of organized thieves used four warehouses to store stolen goods before fencing them out of state. Police also found illegal drugs and assault weapons stored with stolen goods.
While UP initially blamed the Los Angeles prosecutor for the rapid rise in theftsthe rail operator was also managing a small team thanks to cost-cutting and profit-increasing measures such as staff reduction. Rail operators manage their own security on the tracks, although they frequently collaborate with law enforcement. UP said in a statement to Hill that it has tightened security at its Los Angeles facility, both via technological surveillance and an increase in staff.
Freight train operators across the industry have reduced their role in employments during the pandemic, leading to a sharp increase in profits but also a multitude of underpaid, over-working union members. All cost reductions in favor of shareholders workers go home to roostas freight train unions appear to be heading for a general strike, which could cost the US economy $2 billion a day.