Thousands of torn packages litter the ground at a segment of Union Pacific train tracks in downtown L.A., as thieves target cargo containers carrying packages to and from people from all over the country. The trains stop in the area to unload, and that’s when the thieves strike, taking packages from online retailers like Amazon.
COVID-19 testing kits, as well as other items not deemed valuable enough to take, dot the landscape among the trash left behind.
According to CBSLA, the Los Angeles Police Department does not respond to reports of train robbery unless asked by Union Pacific.
An unnamed source told CBSLA Union Pacific had cleaned up the area three months prior, and again about a month ago.
In a statement to CBSLA, Union Pacific said they are “very concerned about the increased cargo thefts in California, and we have taken several steps to address this criminal activity … We have increased the number of Union Pacific special agents on patrol, and we have utilized and explored additional technologies to help us combat this criminal activity. We also will continue to work with our local law enforcement partners and elected leaders.”
Shifting the Blame and Playing Cowboy
As of Jan. 17, cleanup crews have been hard at work clearing the debris as politicians, law enforcement and Union Pacific leadership try to shift the blame on each other.
“This is a multi-billion dollar corporation with their own police unit, their own police force so they really have to step up,” L.A. City Councilmember and mayoral candidate Kevin de León told NBC Los Angeles.
Union Pacific, for their part, puts the blame squarely on L.A. County District Attorney George Gascón whose policies lead to criminals being released after their charges are “reduced to a misdemeanor or petty offense.”
Union Pacific employs their own police force as allowed under federal law, but former employees and law enforcement say the company slashed its security force due to budgetary concerns. However, Union Pacific says they’re working with the LAPD, California Highway Patrol and the L.A. County Sheriff’s Department to tackle the spike in thefts.
The scene has also attracted the attention of Mike Ancheta, a former MMA fighter who has taken it upon himself to play cowboy and guard the tracks while filming himself.
“You should expect to see a lot more right-wing nut jobs engaging in wayward ‘vigilantism,’ documentary maker Vishal P. Singh tweeted after sharing Ancheta’s video.