Photos and videos showing train tracks littered with discarded boxes have cast fresh attention on the theft of packages from cargo containers crossing through Los Angeles, The Guardian reports. On tracks near downtown Los Angeles, Agence-France Presse on Friday found packages with labels of most major U.S. mail order and courier companies. Reporters from CBSLA found boxes from retailers including Amazon, REI and others. The network reported that Union Pacific, which operates the cargo trains, had cleaned up the area of tracks where the boxes were found three months ago and again about 30 days ago.
Union Pacific told Los Angeles County District Attorney George Gascon it had experienced a 160 percent increase in criminal rail theft in Los Angeles County since December 2020 and that on average, more than 90 containers were compromised each day. For the month of October 2021, the company estimated the increase to be 356 percent above the year before. Union Pacific said it has stepped up the number of agents on patrol, and was exploring the use of tools like drones, specialized fencing and trespass detection systems. Luis Rosas, who makes $20 an hour working for a company subcontracted by Union Pacific to salvage items from the tracks in the Los Angeles area, said thieves use bolt cutters to break the locks on the containers and load up vans or trucks with the stolen merchandise.