Discarded packages, shredded boxes: Photos renew focus on Los Angeles cargo theft | California

Recently released photos and videos showing train tracks littered with discarded boxes have drawn attention to the theft of packages from cargo containers crossing Los Angeles in recent months.

On tracks near downtown Los Angeles, a team from Agence-France Presse found packages Friday with labels from most major U.S. mail-order and courier companies. On Thursday, CBSLA reporters found boxes from retailers including Amazon, REI and others. CBSLA reported that Union Pacific, the railroad operating the freight trains, cleared the area of ​​the tracks where the boxes were found three months ago and again about 30 days ago.

A Union Pacific freight train navigates tracks littered with boxes and shredded packages stolen from freight containers stopping to unload in Los Angeles. Photography: Irfan Khan/Los Angeles Times/REX/Shutterstock

In a December letter to Los Angeles County Attorney George Gascon, Union Pacific said it had seen a more than 160% increase in criminal train robberies in Los Angeles County since December 2020 and that on average, more than 90 containers were compromised every day. In several months during this period, the increase over the previous year exceeded 200%, according to the company. For the month of October 2021, it estimated the increase at more than 356% compared to the previous year.

In the letter, Union Pacific said it had increased the number of Union Pacific special agents on patrol and was exploring the use of tools such as drones, specialized fencing and intrusion detection systems.

Boxes, packages and shredded debris are strewn along a section of the Union Pacific train tracks in downtown Los Angeles.
Boxes, packages and shredded debris are strewn along a section of the Union Pacific train tracks in downtown Los Angeles. Photo: Ringo HW Chiu/AP

Luis Rosas, who makes about $20 an hour working for a company contracted by Union Pacific to recover objects from Los Angeles-area tracks, said thieves use bolt cutters to break lock containers and load vans or trucks with the stolen items. merchandise.

Los Angeles has been the scene of major maritime issues in recent months as the global supply chain crisis hit the ports of Los Angeles and Long Beach. The ports, which together form America’s busiest shipping complex and serve as a key gateway for goods imported from Asia, have struggled with a large backlog that has left shipyards cluttered with towering containers and dozens ships at anchor waiting to unload.

Thieves target trains approaching downtown Los Angeles, leaving packages and boxes behind.
Thieves target trains approaching downtown Los Angeles, leaving packages and boxes behind. Photo: Ringo HW Chiu/AP

Thousands of workers have been working around the clock for months transporting goods in trucks – long lines of which stretch into nearby residential neighborhoods – and trains. The growing volume of cargo at the ports, which handle 40% of container imports into the United States, shows no signs of slowing down, putting pressure on workers and residents who live nearby.

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