Every day dozens of freight cars vandalize the Los Angeles Railways taking advantage of train stops to loot packages bought online, thousands of boxes and goods that will not reach their destination.
Many large U.S. mail orders and courier companies such as Amazon, Target, UPS and FedEx are being harmed, according to a tag obtained by an AFP team on a track near the city center on Friday – which was easily accessible from nearby streets. Theft, which has exploded in recent months.
The thieves wait until the long freight trains are immobile on the tracks and then climb into the freight container, the locks of which they break easily with the help of bolt cutters.
They then help to parcel themselves, any product that is difficult to remove or resell, or very cheap, such as the Covid-19 test kit, furniture or medicine.
Thefts in Los Angeles County have increased by 160 percent since December 2020 by Rail Operators Union Pacific.
“In October 2021 alone, there was a 356 percent increase compared to October 2020,” UP told local authorities in a letter, AFP observed.
The letter said the explosion of looting was accompanied by “attacks on UP workers and armed robberies who were performing their duties on the train,” the letter said.
The phenomenon has recently increased with the peak of activity associated with Christmas shopping.
In the last quarter of 2021, an average of more than 90 containers were vandalized per day in Los Angeles County, according to figures reported by UP.
To counter the trend, Union Pacific says it has tightened surveillance – including drones and other detection systems – and deployed more security personnel to its tracks and convoys.
Police and security agents have arrested more than 100 people for “infiltrating and vandalizing” Union Pacific trains in the last three months of 2021.
A spokesman for the rail operator said: “When criminals are caught and arrested, the charges are reduced to a misdemeanor or a minor offense, and the person returns to the streets in less than 24 hours after paying the nominal fine.”
“In fact, criminals are proud of our officers and there are no consequences,” he said.
Union Pacific wrote a letter to the Los Angeles County Attorney’s Office in late December asking it to reconsider a tolerance policy introduced in late 2020 for such crimes.
The operator estimates that the amount of damages from such thefts in 2021 will be approximately 5 million, adding that the claims and the amount of damages “do not include the respective losses of our affected customers” or the impact on Union Pacific’s activities and the entire Los Angeles County supply chain.
(Except for the title, this story was not edited by NDTV staff and was published from a syndicated feed.)