Looters targeting LA trains leave sea of discarded packages


(NewsNation Now) — It’s a wild sight in Southern California.

Thieves have been raiding cargo containers aboard trains near downtown Los Angeles for months, leaving behind tracks blanketed with discarded packages.

Packages addressed to locations all across America can be seen strewn for miles and miles in both directions, and it has gotten especially bad over the last three months at the height of holiday shipments.

Trains have to go very, very slowly when they cross through the area just because of the sheer amount of debris that’s in the way.

The items in the boxes ranged from family portraits, boots and medications to COVID-19 rapid tests, swabs and PPE. Among the pricier items spotted was a box of Humira — an arthritis medication that can cost patients more than $6,000 alone.

It’s a new type of crime that the railroad is desperately trying to get ahead of.

The Union Pacific Railroad told NewsNation it has 1,600 employees covering 275 miles of track throughout Los Angeles. The railroad also said it has increased the number of special agents, drones and trespass detection systems in the LA area as well.

This comes after thousands of packages have already been taken off trains by thieves and found scattered across tracks in East LA, a crime Union Pacific says has increased 160% in the city this year alone.

“The locks are real easy to break, to pick,” Adam Rodriguez, Union Pacific sub-contractor, said. “Screwdriver. Pliers. Yeah, these aren’t heavy-duty bolts or, you know, locks on these containers. That’s how they’re getting in.”

Union Pacific police say they’ve arrested hundreds of suspected looters, but they claim that less than half of those they capture are booked and most are released after 24 hours.

The company is urging Los Angeles County District Attorney George Gascón to strongly prosecute arrestees to deter these types of railway thefts.

“It doesn’t matter what time it is,” said one Union Pacific worker said of the thefts. “It could be broad daylight and they just don’t care.”

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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