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'We're Paying The Price As Consumers,' Union Pacific Rep Says Of Increased Train Robberies In LA

SAN PEDRO (CBSLA) - The Los Angeles Police Department and Union Pacific Police worked together this weekend to stop train package thefts. Saturday, officers took two people into custody along the tracks, though one was cited and released.

train tracks packages
(credit: CBS)

In recent weeks, thieves have broken into train cars and stolen thousands of packages from trains in Lincoln Heights.

About 40% of all products that come into the United States come in through the ports of LA and Long Beach. After making it all the way here from across the ocean and around the world, much of it is put onto trains that are getting looted here in Los Angeles.

"I have never seen this situation happen to us, happen anywhere in Los Angeles. So, this is just unheard of," said Union Pacific Spokeswoman Lupe Valdez.

RELATED: Thieves Raiding Cargo Containers, Stealing Packages On Downtown Section Of Union Pacific Train Tracks

The images are jaw dropping, the Union Pacific train tracks in downtown LA trashed, covered with shredded boxes and envelopes, deliveries that have been rifled through and picked over.

Rail leaders said train robberies in LA have skyrocketed in the past six months, by 356% from October 2020 to October 2021, as thieves raided cargo containers on the trains that stop along the Lincoln Heights area tracks to unload.

RELATED: Union Pacific: Train Robberies Up 356%

Train 2
JAN. 15, 2022

On Saturday, cameras captured looters being taken into custody, though it's not confirmed what they were taken in for exactly. Even with stepped-up patrols and enforcement, rail leaders are wondering how soon the thieves will be back?

"What my officers tell me on the ground is many times people come back and say, 'I just got out and I'm back. They can't do anything to me,' which I think is insane in terms of our situation, with what we're faced with," Valdez said.

Union Pacific has reached out to the District Attorney, blaming lenient sentencing laws for part of the problem, saying its private police force arrested more than 100 people in the last three months, but never got called to testify in a single case.

Meanwhile, the company is working with its clients to enhance security, testing drones and other high-tech tools. Until something changes, however, rail leaders say it's consumers that are paying the price for these crimes.

"We're paying the price as consumers. All of us shop online these days and this is something we're also paying the price for," Valdez said.

The issue has gotten so bad that companies like FedEx and UPS have looked into diverting their routes so that they don't come through LA County.

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