In case you did not see it, during the past week a journalist published an article complete with dramatic photographs showing hundreds of packages looted and opened from rail-carried shipping containers in Los Angeles. The images are so striking that it is hard to understand how this could have happened without law enforcement stepping in to put a stop to it. How did we get to this point in areas of our Nation where this type of large-scale theft goes without consequence?

On January 16th, Union Pacific posted on their website an article discussing the issue, with the following selected excerpts:

  • “Union Pacific agents have made hundreds of arrests, but less than half are booked and some are released in less than 24 hours. ”
  • “In addition to Union Pacific efforts, partnership with local and state law enforcement and elected public officials is essential. Over the past year, rail thefts have increased by 160% in Los Angeles County and have spiked in the past three months during the holiday peak season. In October 2021 alone, thefts from Union Pacific trains increased 356% compared to October 2020.”

In its posting, UP noted a letter was sent to the LA County District Attorney asking for help. The letter included the following: “Criminals are caught and arrested, turned over to local authorities for booking, arraigned before the local courts, charges are reduced to a misdemeanor or petty offense, and the criminal is released after paying a nominal fine,” said the letter. “These individuals are generally caught and released back onto the streets in less than 24 hours. 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 Union Pacific by these same criminals.”

In its letter to the County DA, UP stated the following:

Specifically, just over the past three months of intermodal peak season in preparation for holiday shopping, UP has had the following experience in Los Angeles County:

  • On average, over 90 containers compromised per day.
  • In partnership with Los Angeles Police Department (LAPD), Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department (LASD), and California Highway Patrol (CHP) we estimate over 100 arrests have been made of active criminals vandalizing our trains. UP alone making several dozens of arrests.
  • With our law enforcement partners we have deterred hundreds of individuals from trespassing and vandalizing our trains.
  • Of all those arrests, however, UP has not been contacted for any court proceedings

UP further indicated it is “contemplating serious changes to our operating plans to avoid Los Angeles County.”

We are not experts in politics, but it just doesn’t seem logical that these thieves are banding together to provide a strong voter support base to the DA and other elected officials in the County. If they aren’t, why on earth would the County operate this way? It defies understanding.