Dozens of cargo trains are broken every day in US Los Angeles by thieves who loot packages bought online leaving thousands of gutted boxes that will never reach their destinations. According to the AFP news agency, companies such as Amazon.com, FedEx, UPS, Target are being hit by thefts that have exploded in recent months.
The thieves wait until the long freight trains are immobilized on the tracks, and then climb onto the freight containers, break their locks with the help of bolt cutters. “They then help themselves to parcels, ditching any products that are difficult to move or re-sell, or are too cheap, such as Covid-19 test kits, furniture or medications,” the news agency said.
According to the Union Pacific rail operators, there has been a 160% rise in thefts since December 2020.
In October 2021 alone, the increase was 356% compared to October 2020, the rail operator added.
The Union Pacific said that the explosions in looting are accompanied by an upsurge in “assaults and armed robberies of UP employees performing their duties moving trains”. Over 90 containers were vandalised each day on average in LA County in the last quarter of 2021.
As a result, the rail operators have strengthened surveillance measures — including drones and other detection systems — and recruited more security staff for its tracks and convoys.
The police have arrested more than 100 people in the last three months of 2021 for “trespassing and vandalizing” Union Pacific trains.
“While criminals are being caught and arrested, charges are reduced to a misdemeanor or petty offense, and the person is back on the streets in less than 24 hours after paying a nominal fine,” said a spokesman for the rail operator.
“In fact, criminals boast to our officers that there is no consequence,” he said.
The operator has written a letter to the Los Angeles County attorney’s office at the end of December asking them to reconsider a leniency policy introduced in 2020 for such offences. The Union Pacific estimates that damages from such thefts in 2021 amounted to some $5 million. The amount in claims and losses “does not include respective losses to our impacted customers” or the impact on Union Pacific’s operations and the entire Los Angeles County supply chain, it added.
Never miss a story! Stay connected and informed with Mint.
our App Now!!